About SWiB

First Steps:

Following the war, a committee was set up to challenge local authority proposals to demolish many of the historic properties in the City. Combining forces with members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce and ‘The Old Plymouth Society’, the committee formed the Plymouth Barbican Association (PBA) in 1957 which was renamed the Plymouth Barbican Trust (PBT) in 2011.

To celebrate their fiftieth anniversary, and armed with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the directors of the Trust set up the ‘South West Image Bank (SWiB)’, a community based photographic archive. We began our work in the ground floor of one of the Trust's grade two Elizabthean properties on Looe Street, but owing to expansion of the archive and development of our services, we are now housed in a larger one of the PBA’s restored properties on the 'Parade'**.


SWiB actively seeks to provide an accessible means by which the public can engage with images relating to the people, and places of the regions past. At present we have 30 volunteers who are busy cataloguing, scanning and preserving our main collection under the supervision of a full-time qualified Archivist.

Currently, SWiB holds the largest collection of photographic records in the region and is recognised by the Community Archives & Heritage Group as an official point of contact for those looking to set up community archive projects in Plymouth. Visit the Community Archives Network website to view the complete directory.

Our Core objectives:

1) To acquire, preserve and digitally restore photographic collections pertaining to the region for present and future historical research and enquiry.
2) To work with similar heritage-based initiatives in the community towards the mutually beneficial exhibition of our collections, further complemented through our online galleries, on-site public search room delivery, and other outreach activities.
3) To create a digital archive of our collections via in-house cataloguing and scanning work onto a searchable database, allowing for world-wide access to our collections.

SWiB Statistics:

Total images catalogued / all collections (available via onsite search room or external request) 52,000
Total images scanned / all collections (available via onsite search room or external request) 31,000
Total images available on website 10,000
User statistics - on site (Feb 2008 - Nov 2010) 2,645
Individual volunteering/work based learning opportunities supported to date 42
Individual presentations/talks given to external groups to date 33
Individual exhibitions/projects delivered to date 17/8 (25)

Find out what people are saying about our work via our feedback page.

Further Links:

- About the Plymouth Barbican Trust
- The SWiB Team
- Policies/Credentials
- Feedback
- Acquisition and Preservation
- Cataloguing and Scanning
- Digital Restoration
- SWiB Outreach and Learning
- Access and Enquiries


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