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Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life buys the David Osborne collection of more than 1,000 picture postcards of the town




The Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life, which attracts scores of visitors from across Suffolk every year, has bought a collection of postcards which is thought to be the 'largest and most comprehensive' of its kind.

The more than 1,000 postcards, which convey historic pictures of the town, were collected by local historian David Osborne who died last year.

Oliver Bone, curator at the museum, said: "The postcard collection was David’s pride and joy and I am delighted that we have been able to secure it for public ownership at Ancient House.

A postcard dated 1910 showing White Hart Street
A postcard dated 1910 showing White Hart Street

"This must be the largest and most comprehensive collection of Thetford Postcards in the world. It will be invaluable for sharing the history of the town with our audiences.”

David Osborne collected the postcards over 40 years, after his early research into Thetford's history led him to picture postcards of the town published in the late 19th century and early 20th and 21st centuries which showed historic places, the old town centre, local celebrations and Scouts and Guides groups.

David bought many of the postcards at specialist fairs in East Anglia and London and later he also attended online auctions. Some of the postcards were also given to David by local residents who wanted them to go to a 'good home'.

A postcard dated 1910 which was among David's collection
A postcard dated 1910 which was among David's collection

The museum was able to buy the collection thanks to support from the Victoria & Albert Museum's Purchase Grant Fund, Breckland Council's Community Match Funding Scheme through the Norfolk Community Foundation, The Lady Hind Trust, Friends of Thetford Museum and Thetford Town Council.

Cllr Robert Kybird, chair of Breckland Area Museums committee, said: “David was a personal friend and we miss him dearly, both for his enthusiasm and knowledge of all things Thetford.

"His postcard collection was a particular source of pride and I am grateful that Breckland have contributed to this special collection through their match funding scheme. We are also indebted to the other funders for enabling this key element of local history to become embedded at the very core of the Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life.”

The museum hopes to create a permanent display of the postcards which will also include an information board about David and the making of his collection.

This postcard is dated 1910 and shows Norwich Road School
This postcard is dated 1910 and shows Norwich Road School

Staff also plan to scan the cards into the museum's photographic image library, use them in school history projects and clubs, and post photographs on social media to encourage others to show interest in the town's history.

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