Our Ephemera Collection is a fascinating, and very varied, view of people, places and events in Wimbledon from the late Victorian period onwards, a snapshot of local history. Ephemera are generally printed items that were never intended to be kept or were just retained for a short time, such as menus, calendars, programmes, posters and flyers for events, campaigns, elections, shows, goods and services. Some are the junk mail of their time. Posters and flyers range from the one-off and handmade to the mass produced.

Our small Postcard Collection in some ways stands alone – it includes photographs, messages between people and businesses or members of groups, or social chat. Those that are written on may also be found in other parts of our Collections.

We try to keep the collection right up-to-date by collecting such items as those relating to Brexit, recent elections, COVID-19 in Wimbledon, and even some current junk mail and paper carrier bags.

Wimbledon Theatre programmes form the bulk of the Ephemera Collection going right back to 1910 when the theatre first opened and continue, though not in a complete run, through two World Wars into the 2000s. They give us an incredibly long ‘cast list’ of performers, playwrights, composers and directors.  Successful plays went on to the West End and beyond, some were just local productions, but others have sunk without trace.

Theatre and other programmes, catalogues and booklets often contain advertisements, very much of their time and fun to look at and reflect on the types of  products, services and prices offered by local businesses and shops in the past.

Centrefold of a 1917 Wimbledon Theatre Programme

Centrefold of a 1917 Wimbledon Theatre Programme

It is publicising a forthcoming production of Charley’s Aunt by Brandon Thomas, the renowned actor and playwright, and is one of several that we have featuring productions of this popular world-famous play.

The Museum has a small collection relating to Brandon Thomas and his family – his son Jevan, also and actor and playwright, lived for a time in Wimbledon.

Advertising

Handmade poster or sign on cardboard advertising the Ridgway School of Dancing, probably dating to the 1940s.

Poster

Poster for the Salutation of the Belgian Flag in honour of the Belgians and the Belgian refugees in Wimbledon during the First World War