The negatives which form
the collection were all either taken by Lilian Ream herself or by members
of her staff. The Lilian Ream Studio recorded local people, places,
It was very much a commercial
operation and the variety of scenes reflect the variety of customers
which ranged from both local newspapers, to shops, factories, sports
teams and individuals who wanted to record their family, home or some
major happening in their lives.
Portraits were the bread
and butter of the business and form about seventy percent of the
collection. They illustrate not only changing fashions in clothes but
also the way people saw themselves, their families and their place in
No one knows just how many
negatives existed when the firm closed down as all the records have
disappeared but many were lot before the surviving negatives, numbering
between 150-200,000, were acquired by Cambridgeshire Libraries in 1981.
The negatives were sorted
with the aid of a MSC project sponsored by Fenland District Council
and later a number of local exhibitions were held thanks to sponsorship
by local businesses.
Unfortunately many of the
negatives are in very poor condition and are deteriorating all the time.
Cambridgeshire County Council were unable to provide the funds needed
to save the collection and, in 1993, handed them over to a newly formed
haritable trust in the hope that it would be better able to raise the
finance required. The trust has continued to make more of the collection
available to the public but progress on conservatiion is extremely slow.