Heritage Lottery Funded Western Morning News Project Review
In 2007, the Plymouth Barbican Association successfully acquired Heritage Lottery funding to undertake a project to preserve and digitise a collection of glass plates and transparencies which were passed on to the Association by the Western Morning News. Over two million individual items form part of the collection of which a target of 20,000 were to be catalogued by the grant expiry date of 30th June 2009.
In September 2007, an Archive Manager was appointed to oversee the project, acquire and train volunteers in using state of the art digital equipment and archival software and to undertake a programme of outreach work thus engaging interest from the public. A public access search room was set in February 2008 to provide members of the public with a means by which to access the collection.
Our website was set up in May 2008 which has allowed us to exhibit selected images from the WMN collection for all to enjoy. We have also made use of the website to promote various SWiB exhibitions and other outreach work.
In October 2008, upon reaching our HLF target to catalogue 20,000 items, we continued to work with the WMN collection and have to date catalogued around 29,000 items from that collection. We also started to work on other photographic collections which continue to be deposited by members of the public, local history societies and from local businesses eager to preserve the provenance of their collections.
On Friday 24th July 2009, we held a formal celebration to mark the successful completion of our HLF project. The event was attended by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, representatives from the HLF, the Herald, The Western Morning News and Devon Life, Alison Seabeck MP, the Directors of the Association and SWiB Volunteers and individuals we have engaged with throughout the two year project. Here are some photographs taken on the day by SWiB Volunteer Paul Thompson.
1) Charlie Sells, model maker, with the completed pre-war model of Plymouth presented to SWiB 2) Gloria Dixon, Old Plymouth Society 3) Maureen Beardsley and Christine Davis, SWiB Volunteers
1) Pip Critten with Mr Morris and Ms Waring 2) Denise Bailey, Christine Davis and Emma Taylor, SWiB Volunteers 3) Barbie Thompson with Stacey Dyer, SWiB Archive Manager, Douglas Fletcher, Director of the Plymouth Barbican Association & Kate Wood, Devon Life
1) (Back from left) Douglas Fletcher & Vic French, Directors (PBA) with Ed Keast, Property Manager (PBA), Bill Hodges, Director (PBA) & Sam Hunt, HLF (Front from left) Stacey Dyer, Archive Manager, Chris Robinson, Director (PBA) with Claire Hyne and Kelly Spry-Phare of the HLF 2) Gloria Dixon (OPS), Brenda Buckley, SWiB Volunteer with the Lord and Lady Mayoress, Alison Strawbridge, SWiB Volunteer with Doreen Mole and Derek Hiscock, SWiB Volunteer
1) View of venue, Plymouth Arts Centre Batter Street Studio 2) The Lord Mayor with Brenda Buckley and John Pawley, SWiB Volunteers 3) Chris Robinson, Director with Sam Hunt, HLF and Stacey Dyer, Archive Manager
The greatest achievement we have seen throughout the two years has been working alongside our wonderful team of volunteers. Our volunteers have grown steadily since first beginning the project; 26 individuals are now on board with us ranging from local history enthusiasts, local photographers, university and college students who have chosen to undertake their work experience placements with us and individuals with learning difficulties who are benefitting from skills development opportunities through their work with SWiB. We have also provided consultancy to other establishments in the region looking to initiate similar projects including the Tavistock Photo Archive, Royal Cornwall Museum and the Stoke Damerel School Photographic Archive Project.