Back our bid to preserve snapshots of the past

Lichfield-Street

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The Express & Star is applying for Heritage Lottery Fund support to digitise its entire photographic archive, dating back more than a century.

It is a huge task, which will preserve the photos for future generations. It involves scanning every old photograph and uploading the captions that go with them into a digital archive that can be searched online, free of charge, by the general public.

There are an estimated 750,000 photographs involved. In a project supported by Wolverhampton University and WAVE: The Museums, Galleries and Archives of Wolverhampton, Britain’s biggest regional newspaper is trying to create an online archive that will be available to the community, ensuring the photographs are accessed by local people for many years to come.

The Express & Star has been at the centre of local life for generations, documenting events across the region every day with news reports and photographs.

With a heritage dating back to the 1880s, the Express & Star has old pictures from not just the great events like the First and Second World Wars and the Coronation, but the small local events that our photographers have been covering for our pages.

Unfortunately, many of the photographs have begun to deteriorate over time. Our library shelves are stacked with black and white and colour pictures.

You name it, it’s there – people, buildings, fashion, show business, street scenes – all the little triumphs and tragedies of life. We are trying to create an online archive that will be available to the community free of charge so that is why we need your support.

If you would like to support the project, please send a letter of support to: Chris Leggett, Brand and communications manager, Express & Star, 51-53 Queen Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1ES. Or email: chris.leggett@expressandstar.co.uk

The Express & Star is looking for a small army of volunteers willing to help scan the photographs and inputting information. Full training will be given. If you are interested email chris.leggett@expressandstar.co.uk

Tool from derelict Wolverhampton cinema, 1959
Tool from derelict Wolverhampton cinema, 1959

Support us so future generations can benefit

Tom Graham, Editorial executive, Midland News Association: "The Express & Star’s bid for Heritage Lottery Fund money to preserve its photo archive is a major step towards ensuring this priceless collection is available for future generations.

"By making Britain’s biggest selling regional newspaper’s photographs available to the public in a digital format, local people will be able to enjoy this unrivalled document of the past for many years to come.

"The Black Country has undoubtedly one of the richest histories in Britain. We want future generations to be able to share that history by having access to amazing photographs from through the centuries.

"The trust established by the Express & Star means people have let the newspaper record their lives through photography for almost as long as photos have been taken in this region.

"My family is proud to have owned the Express & Star for more than a century, having been involved with the newspaper since the 1880s.

"It is a Black Country success story, growing from its origins in Wolverhampton to be a leading light in newspapers in this country.

"As we move into the digital age, it is reassuring to think that the Express & Star’s collection could be preserved forever and enjoyed by generations to come."

Dudley Zoo elephant keeps cool in heat wave, 1979
Dudley Zoo elephant keeps cool in heat wave, 1979

Patricia Cooper, Associate Dean Operations and Enterprise, School of Art+Design, University of Wolverhampton: "I am really proud to be a part of the Express and Star’s philanthropic project to digitise their vast photo archive and open it up for public consumption.

"It is vital that we preserve this collection to conserve the Black Country’s diverse heritage for present and future generations to experience and enjoy.

"Without digitisation the archive will progressively deteriorate and we will be at risk of losing a valuable resource with all the memories and stories from our personal histories which it holds.

"The project will provide valuable employment and volunteering opportunities that will both ignite and sustain interest in our heritage and

encourage skills that can be transferred to future employment.

"The University of Wolverhampton is pleased to offer our technical expertise with regards to the digitisation of images, meta-tagging and archival. Our students will have opportunities to volunteer and our staff will be offering their expertise with the archive itself.

"On a personal level I am really passionate about the project, and as a Black Country local, the thought that this archive could be lost is insurmountable to me. It’s an archive of memories of our society, for our society, by our society."

Corinne Miller, head of culture, arts and heritage, WAVE: The Museums, Galleries and Archives of Wolverhampton: "WAVE is delighted that the Express & Star have offered their photographic collection to the archives where it will be preserved in our outstanding facility, once the Molineux Hotel, a popular landmark on the ring road.

"This archive will be available for people to view alongside copies of the original newspaper articles and related material.

"As such it is a vital part of our heritage that we need to preserve as it tells our story; what makes us in the Black Country a distinctive community with a shared history."