Express & Star photo archive makes the headlines on TV news

Posted Friday, March 8, 2019 by Chris Leggett under News

The historic digital photos from the Express & Star photo archive made the news when they appeared on the BBC evening regional news on Wednesday March 6.

The project, a partnership between the Express & Star, the University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton City Archives and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, was the subject of a four-minute feature on Midlands Today.

You can also watch it on Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10156982365504761&id=21263239760&anchor_composer=false

The project has seen thousands of people view images online dating from the 1970s to the mid 1990s after the website went live.

The 3,000 images published on the website as part of the £60,000 National Lottery project include photos taken during steel industry operations and during the final years of the mining industry.

An archivist, representative from the University of Wolverhampton, project volunteer and a former Express & Star photographer were invited to Queen Street to look at the physical archive and be interviewed by the BBC.

Reporter Joanne Writtle, herself a former Express & Star journalist from the 1990s, visited to look around the archive.

She interviewed former snapper Dave Bagnall, who gave his memories of some of the images featured in the collection, along with MNA director of marketing and communications Chris Leggett, who led the project committee.

The BBC also interviewed city archivist Heidi McIntosh, who picked out her favourite images of people at work across the region.

Volunteer Brian Lester, who was among a group of helpers who gave the equivalent of 260 working days to sift the shelves, was also featured.

And there was a twist in the tail as Midlands Today host Nick Owen surprised co-presenter Shefali Oza with Express & Star archive images of her arrival as a TV weather girl in 1994.

Shefali got her own back by presenting Express & Star archive photos of Nick, dating back to his early days as a television sports presenter.

As a result of the appearance, viewers rushed to the website after seeing it on the TV news.

The number of page impressions generated by users leapt from 450 per hour during the day to 3,000 per hour between 6pm and 8pm.

Chris Leggett said: “The photo archive has captured people’s imagination since the website went live on Monday so it was fantastic for the BBC to report on the historic images in such detail.

“We can already see in the web analytics that people responded by immediately going online to see the photos for themselves.

“Given that the project was funded by a Lottery contribution, it was pleasing to see the public want to know more about their history by viewing images of the region’s past for free online.”

The TV appearance was the second time the photo archive has appeared on regional BBC this week.

BBC WM 95.8 hosts Sam and Daz discussed the photo heritage on the breakfast show on Monday: https://photo-archive.expressandstar.co.uk/photo-archive-takes-to-airwaves-to-promote-launch/

The project partnership was set up back in 2008 by the Express & Star with the University of Wolverhampton and Wolverhampton City Archives to ensure the printed photos taken throughout the 20th Century were made available to the public via an online platform.

Development funding of £59,800 was initially awarded to the partnership in 2014, which includes Black Country community group representatives, to progress their plans.

The Express & Star photo archive has been described as one of the most important regional photograph collections in the country, as it includes photographs of royal visits and speeches by Prime Ministers, through to images of local ways of everyday life which have been replaced in the modern world.

The industrial images were selected after a survey of 750 local respondents by heritage development consultants Tricolor Associates showed the subjects the public wanted to see prioritised were industrial history, the War years and the changing local landscape.

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