The E. H. Barnden Collection

The E. H. Barnden Collection

In the Depression of the early 1930’s, people came up with ways of amusing themselves and lifting their spirits. Ernest Henry Barnden used the kitchen table in the family’s slab cottage as a workbench. With the tinsnips, pliers and a hammer, he created an increasingly complex range of tin toys and ornaments, cut mainly from tobacco tins, and then painted.

Alas, he had only two colours…olive green and red. And, unlike the Tin Man in the wizard of Oz, Ernest obviously had a heart. The entire collection was delivered to the Mill, each piece separately wrapped in pages from 1930s magazines, so we can assume that when Ernest went off to fight in the war, the family packed them away.