SWiB Success Stories

At SWiB we are delighted to process many copy orders on a weekly basis, some of which being the result of successful searches undertaken of our internal catalogue database or through careful investigation of our uncatalogued collections. This gives us the opportunity to engage with members of the public about their memories and fascinating recollections.

Whilst we enjoy processing all searches and copy orders requested, from time to time, the work we do in supplying images for people sometimes has a deeper impact.

Featured here are a selection of some of the more memorable stories.


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This first image is of particular significance for us being the very first enquiry received by the image bank back in 2007.

A young gentleman (featured in the photograph) ventured in to us seeking an image which was originally published in the Evening Herald showing his late grandfather being celebrated as the winner of a flower festival which took place in the guildhall between 1982 and 1985. He could not give us a more specific date, which his mum may have been able to provide, since he was hoping to give it to her as a Christmas present.

What makes this story particularly significant is the fact that the original copy they had, had been destoryed in a house fire some years previous to his request. Whilst at that time we had yet to begin cataloguing the WMN collection, we had nevertheless produced a chronological index of the entire collection. Following several weeks searching through boxes upon boxes of original negatives, alas we were able to locate the image required enabling the gentleman and his mum to be reunited with the image they had lost.

Needless to say, the gentleman concerned was overjoyed with our discovery!


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This second image relates to an enquiry received from a young lady who was searching for photographs showing her father who had been featured in the papers some years previous along with his children (her siblings). Again, she was unsure of the date in which the article had been published and could only specify an estimated year as being 1998.

Strangely enough, that same afternoon we had received another [unrelated] enquiry for which we had searched through a file of negatives for 1998, the file had yet to be returned to the strong room. Upon browsing through the same file, incredibly, we happened upon the image she was after.

The lady came straight in to the image bank to pick up the printed image. It was only during her visit that we discovered the photograph would be used as a basis for her fathers memorial service which was taking place the next day.


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A few moths ago we received a visit from an elderly gentleman who had been overjoyed at seeing one of our images - the one displayed above - which had been used in Chris Robinsons 'Looking Back' feature in the Plymouth Extra (See our Plymouth Extra Feature page).

The photograph captures a now long-gone scene; Belle Vue Corner at the junction of Cobourg Street with North Road East during the 1960s. For the gentleman concerned however, the main focus of the image is the side of the house in the background on the left. This is the place he had called home during the 1960s before moving away from the area. He could even tell me the colour of the walls in the bedroom which we can just see through the window!

Sadly, upon his return to Plymouth, he discovered the entire area had been demolished to make way for North Cross Roundabout. For twenty years or so, he had been searching for a photograph of this house without much success. What is particularly fascinating about this story, is that he had not even had time to read the Extra that week and had simply placed it in a bag destined for the recycling bin. The said bag happened to fall from the work surface in which it had been placed revealing the page in which the image above was featured!

Having realised one ambition, he is now working on finding another project to keep himself occupied for the next twenty years!


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