Heritage experts signed to shape digital photo archive Lottery plans

Posted Friday, May 1, 2015 by Chris Leggett under News

Plans to digitise the Express & Star’s photo archive have taken another step forward with the appointment of experts to develop community projects to explore the historic collection.

Specialist heritage agency Tricolor has been selected to develop ideas which will get the widest possible usage of the images, which will be digitised and uploaded to a free to access website.

Front from left Tricolor heritage consultant Frank Crosby and MNA brand and communications manager Chris Leggett. Back row from left volunteer Mick Pearson, Lisa George from the University of Wolverhampton, WAVE city archivist Heidi McIntosh, Tricolor heritage consultant Gwendolen Whitaker, volunteer Ann Eales and Scott Knight from the University of Wolverhampton.

A not-for-profit partnership, set up by the Express & Star with the University of Wolverhampton and WAVE: the museums, galleries, archives of Wolverhampton, was awarded development funding of £59,800 from the Lottery board in June last year.

Tricolor will use part of the funding to draw up detailed plans on how the digitised photographs could be used by as many people as possible.

The proposals will include ideas on how the collection could stimulate interest among school pupils, local history groups and people researching their family histories.

They will also look at innovative ideas for reaching groups across the social spectrum, including the elderly, people without internet access and youngsters outside of mainstream education.

Britain’s biggest selling regional newspaper is working with leading local organisations to digitise the images dating back more than a century to make them available to the public for free online.

Cambridge-based Tricolor has a wide range of experience in heritage projects having previously worked for Imperial War Museum, HMS Belfast and Alexandra Palace, all in London, as well as Oliver Cromwell’s House in Cambridgeshire.

They were recruited following an extensive procurement process co-ordinated by the University of Wolverhampton. A number of specialist agencies presented their ideas before the successful applicant was selected.

Tricolor director Frank Crosby said: “My team and I are delighted to have the opportunity to work on such an exciting project.

“The photo archive is like a 100 year time capsule for the region and we will be working with the local community over the coming months.

“We want to make sure they have a say in how it might be made accessible to them in the future.”

The panel behind the project, which also includes Black Country community group representatives, will use another share of the money to recruit specialist IT consultants to develop detailed technology plans which will form the basis for a full Lottery application at a later date.

If the second bid is successful, volunteers will begin vital archiving work, the collection will be digitised and the photographs made available through a single web portal.

Free online public access will be offered for people to view the unrivalled images of local events, momentous and every day, for the first time.

MNA communications manager Chris Leggett, who chairs the project steering group, said: “The appointment of our heritage community partners is another step along the way for a project that we hope will ultimately preserve this unrivalled collection for future generations.”

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