Gardiner Collection of Glass Negatives
Marlborough Museum has been privileged to receive a collection of photographs on glass negatives taken by Winifred Louina Couper (1877-1965) between c.1905 and c.1920. The collection is a special record of social life in the Pelorus Bridge area.
Winifred Couper's work is a unique record. New Zealand women photographers are receiving increasing attention, and these photographs are real treasures.
After her death in 1965 they were picked up by her nephew Sinclair John Couper (1912-1996) and stored in a shed at Rai Valley near Marlborough at the top of New Zealand's South Island. They were subsequently found by his son when the shed was pulled down in 2006. Lesley Gardiner, a first cousin, has recently donated them to Marlborough Museum.
The images have been scanned to digital format, and in some cases there are multiple copies of each image where the scanning process was adjusted to highlight some aspect of the original. A striking factor is the stunning quality of the resulting photographs, particularly given the technology of the time and the storage conditions the plates have endured since then.
If you recognise any of the unknown places or people in these photographs, we would love to hear from you.
High-quality prints of these images are available from the Museum, either in person or via email at the address below.
Would you like to know more?
The Couper family.
Daniel Couper (1819-1907) was born in Leith, Scotland. He married Mary Ann Byrne (c.1825-1908) who was born in Capetown, South Africa. They sailed from Capetown to New Zealand in 1864 via the Victorian goldfields. They had an Accommodation House at Pelorus Bridge, Marlborough.
Their son John Alexander Couper (1847-1925) was born in Capetown. He married Amy Grace Haycock (c.1850-1887) in 1870. Amy died in childbirth. They had a farm at Pelorus Bridge, Marlborough, known as 'The Chestnuts'. They had five sons and one daughter as follows.
1. Daniel James Couper (1872-1942). He married Maud Nesbitt and had: Maurice (1902-1962); Malcolm (1903-1976) and Trevor (1911-1969).
2. William (Will or Willie) Benjamin Couper (1875-1971). He married Ivy Twidle, sister to May, in 1901. Their home at Pelorus Bridge was known as 'Balleyhooley'. They had four children:
Amy Winifred (1903-1995) who married Tom Map and had Lesley (married name Gardiner - donor of these photographs), Janet, Owen and Lloyd.
Rita (1905-1955) who married Eric Francis and had Natalie and Marie.
Una Ivy (1910-2001) who married Tom Noble and had Ivy, Keith, Daphne and Andrew.
Sinclair John (1912-1996, known as Sinclair) who married Ada nee Orr and had Wallace (who married Jenifer Muriel Webber and they had Sally, David and Peter); Neville; Graham; Owen; Danny; Inez; Stephen.
3. Winifred (Winnie) Louina Couper (1877-1965). Winnie is the photographer who took these photographs. She never married and lived with her father, John Alexander Couper (1847-1925). He had a house built on the family farm, The Chestnuts, at Pelorus Bridge in 1916 on the site of the original Couper Accommodation House where he and Winnie lived from then on. Winnie's brother, Lew, lived across the Pelorus road. His home was also built on the family farm, The Chestnuts, in 1916. And across the river from Winnie's new home was Balleyhooley, the home of another brother, Will Couper.
4. Percy Charles Couper (1878-1959) married May Twidle (1882-1957), sister to Ivy, in 1905. They lived at Bulford, Rai Valley, Marlborough. They had no children.
5. Lewis (Lew) Herbert Couper (1882-1945) married Margaret (Maggie) Kelliher who died in 1940 aged 49 years. Lew had a house built on the family farm, 'The Chestnuts', in 1916 which was later lived in by his brother, Will. It is still lived in (2003) by Will's great-granddaughter, Ruth O'Sullivan (daughter of Lesley Gardner who donated these photographs). Lew and Maggie had five children:
John (Jack) Alexander (1916-1987).
Peter (1930- still living 1997).
Margaret (1934-still living 1997) married Joe Jaques.
6. John Sinclair (known as Sinclair 1885-1912). He was accidently killed while watching the shooting at the Canvastown Rifle Range on 20 May 1912. A cleaning rag was left in a rifle and the rifle exploded when fired. Sinclair was hit in the stomach with schrapnel and died at the Cottage Hospital, Havelock the next morning.
Ada Twidle, sister to Ivy Couper (nee Twidle) and May Couper (nee Twidle), married John Wheadon.