We asked Express & Star readers to back our drive to make more than 750,000 old photographs available to the general public – and you did us proud.
More than 100 groups and individuals have rallied to back our bid for lottery funding, which would enable the entire Express & Star photographic archive to be viewed over the internet.
Letters of support have come from as far afield as Canada and Australia, and many readers volunteered to give up their time to help with the laborious process of scanning in hundreds of thousands of pictures.
If the bid, which is being put together in partnership with Wolverhampton University and WAVE: The Museums, Galleries and Archives of Wolverhampton, is successful, it will mean anybody with internet access would be able to view our entire picture collection.
And it will not only open up this vast and fascinating collection to a huge new audience, it will also preserve this treasure trove of images for future generations, long after the original prints will have inevitably succumbed to the ravages of time.
Evocative scenes of the last 139 years, such as Winston Churchill addressing crowds at Wolverhampton’s Molineux Stadium, German Prisoners of War clearing snow in Wolverhampton, and the King and Queen reviewing nursing reserves in Dudley are among the photographs in the Express & Star archive.
Hoards of Wolves fans clamouring for the result of the 1908 FA Cup Final, the landmark eight chimneys at St John’s Church and Hospital in Lichfield, and an atmospheric night-time shot taken at rush-hour in West Bromwich are also part of the vast collection. Among the groups pledging their support to our bid are the Landor Society, which celebrates the history of Rugeley, the Black Country Memories Club, and the London Wolves Supporters Club.
Reader Amanda Freeman, from Pelsall, said the cause was dear to her heart, having recently discovered some old family photographs which had belonged to her father.
“We have just been made grandparents for the first time, and the findings of the last few weeks have made me realise how important it is to pass on the family history,” she says.
Clare Rasdell said putting the Express & Star photo collection on the internet was something she would love to see.
“Before my dad passed away, he gave me a newspaper article of my great-grandad – Thomas Price – from November, 1938, as he attended a ceremony for the Festival of Remembrance. It captures much more than I could ever have found out through birth, marriage, death and census information.”
Chairman of the Black Country Memories Club Alan Bickley said: “I am convinced that these old records are not only important for our generation to see, but vital for the generations yet to come.”
Peter Bartlett of the London Wolves Supporters Club said the group’s 300 members – many of them Wolverhampton expats – would be fascinated to see the many historic pictures relating to the football club in the archives.
The bid has also been supported by the Newspaper Society, Wombourne History Group, and the Black Country Urban Industrial Mission.
We offer our profound thanks to everybody who has taken the trouble to write in so far, but we still need your support. If you have not already done so, please contact us at the above address.
Read more on the photo archive campaign, including letters of support, in today's Express & Star