The material in this collection divides into three main series: work created by Charles Trotter during his photographic career (1948 - 1962), photographs and documents from his parents (predominantly his mother Margaret) prior to 1937 when the family are believed to have returned to the UK, and material relating to Charles's life in Kenya, particularly his involvement in clubs and societies related to his work and hobbies, including documents from his participation in the 1956 and 1960 Olympics. Charles's collection of c. 50,000 negatives are a particularly rich resource for the study of Kenya immediately prior to independence - its landscapes, cities, people, society and industries. Although currently in a poor state of conservation, many of the images are accessible through the large number of prints which form part of this collection and some others have been digitised.
The Trotter family photographs form a fascinating contrast by encapsulating life for a British family in East Africa a generation earlier. They give a particular insight into the opportunities and lifestyle available to Margaret Trotter as a young woman in Africa, and the existence of many of her negatives as well as album prints would enable further study into her recording of this part of her life.
Charkes Trotter had recorded an oral history interview with the Museum in 2002 (no. 948).
This catalogue was produced with support from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives.
Charles Trotter was born in Scotland in 1923, but at the age of three months he and his mother Margaret returned home to Uganda, where his father James worked in the Land and Surveys Department. With a break for war service, James had been with the same department in Uganda since graduating from Cambridge in 1912. Margaret (nee Duncan) had gone out to Kenya as a Post Office clerk in 1918, and was later transferred to Entebbe, where she met James. They were married in 1921 and remained in Uganda for over a decade before transferring to Nigeria in the 1930s. Margaret died in 1962.
For the first 6 years of his life, Charles accompanied his parents on a near-permanent safari owing to the itinerant nature of his father's work. The family mixed almost exclusively within the British colonial community where they enjoyed a busy social life, captured by Margaret who was herself a keen photographer. In 1929 he returned to the UK to attend boarding school, and after serving as a Captain in the Royal Engineers during WW2 he joined the Guernsey Star in 1948 as a junior photographer. After studying for two years at the London School of Photo Engraving and Lithography, he obtained a first-class pass in the City and Guilds exam.
Charles returned to East Africa on the SS Kenya's maiden voyage in 1951 at the age of 28, capturing life on board ship as the first assignment of this phase of his career. He made Nairobi his home for the following 11 years, during which he established himself as a leading commercial photographer. Although his income was derived chiefly from advertising and promotional work, he also captured images of British-Kenyan high society, royal and ceremonial events, industry, safari, sporting fixtures and landscapes, travelling extensively around East Africa. One of his great passions was motorsport, and he was for some years the official photographer of the East African Safari Rally. He also photographed numerous celebrities, including singers and Hollywood actors, who travelled to Kenya, as well as Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh on their tour of Kenya in 1952.
Charles Trotter represented Kenya in rifle shooting at the Olympics in both 1956 and 1960. In 1962, a year before independence, he returned to the UK. Despite having permanently reduced mobility following a 1965 car accident, he carried on a successful shooting career, winning H.M. The Queen's Prize in 1975 and a Commonwealth Games Bronze Medal in the fullbore rifle event in 1982, thus becoming one of Guernsey's most decorated sportspeople. He died in 2003.