Museum display of 1,155 postcards to pay tribute to town’s historian

Thetford historian and author David Osborne, who died last year. Photo: Sonya Duncan

Thetford historian and author David Osborne, who died last year. Photo: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

A much-loved historian has been given a fitting tribute in a new museum exhibition of hundreds of postcards he collected over his lifetime.

A postcard from David Osborne's collection, which will be exhibited at the Ancient House Museum. Pho

A postcard from David Osborne's collection, which will be exhibited at the Ancient House Museum. Photo: Ancient House Museum - Credit: Ancient House Museum

The collection of more than a thousand postcards, dating back to the 19th century, was put together over 40 years by the late David Osborne, Thetford’s local historian, who died last year.

Mr Osborne, who was born in Thetford, began collecting picture postcards in 1979, when he first started taking an interest in the town’s history.

The earliest postcard in his collection is an invitation to the opening dinner for the Bury St Edmunds and Thetford Railway in 1876.

His passion for the town’s history also led him to publishing around 20 books.

A postcard from David Osborne's collection, which will be exhibited at the Ancient House Museum. Pho

A postcard from David Osborne's collection, which will be exhibited at the Ancient House Museum. Photo: Ancient House Museum - Credit: Ancient House Museum


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Now, with the support of V&A Purchase Grant Fund, Breckland Council Community Match Funding Scheme through the Norfolk Community Foundation, The Lady Hind Trust, Friends of Thetford Museum and Thetford Town Council, the Ancient House Museum has been able to purchase Mr Osborne’s 1,155 postcard collection to preserve and share his work.

Mr Osborne’s wife, Joy Osborne, said: “David’s wish was that post cards stayed in Thetford and used for the people in Thetford. It was hard to part with them, but that was where he wanted them to go.”

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Curator Oliver Bone 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.

“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.”

Thetford historian and author David Osborne, who died last year. Photo: Sonya Duncan

Thetford historian and author David Osborne, who died last year. Photo: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

Each album contains cards from different areas or streets of the town or different themes, such as local publishers, the Great War and military, football, Burrell traction engines and more.

There will be a permanent display at the museum, on White Hart Street in Thetford, including an information board about Mr Osborne and a screen to show a selection of images.

Chairman of Breckland area museums committee, councillor Robert Kybird, added: “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 has contributed to this special collection through their match funding scheme.

A postcard from David Osborne's collection, which will be exhibited at the Ancient House Museum. Pho

A postcard from David Osborne's collection, which will be exhibited at the Ancient House Museum. Photo: Ancient House Museum - Credit: Ancient House Museum

“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.”

A postcard from David Osborne's collection, which will be exhibited at the Ancient House Museum. Pho

A postcard from David Osborne's collection, which will be exhibited at the Ancient House Museum. Photo: Ancient House Museum - Credit: Ancient House Museum

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