The Express & Star photo archive is the culmination of a long-term partnership project to preserve historic images from the UK’s leading regional newspaper.
Recording local life from the 1880s through to the digital age, the Express & Star is published by The Midland News Association Ltd (MNA) with different editions covering the Black Country and Staffordshire.
The newspaper has a private photographic collection estimated at 1 million images, an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 of which would be copyright of the MNA.
Over decades it amassed a collection of prints, with the associated news article clipping glued on the reverse of the majority, dating from around 1935 to 1995.
We believe the oldest is of a large crowd gathered outside the Express & Star Offices awaiting a telegraph on the outcome of the 1907/8 FA Cup Final (Wolves beat Newcastle 3-1). Post 1995 photographs are digital and an additional 3.5 million have been created.
The MNA, Wolverhampton City Archives, and the University of Wolverhampton came together in a partnership in 2008 to preserve this collection and make it freely accessible to the public.
We have garnered support from local residents, community and heritage groups and businesses through our outreach activity and we were successful in gaining support from Heritage Lottery Fund in 2014 to digitise a number of photographs and produce this website.
The collection is a substantial historical primary source; it is a mass of local personal stories. The newspaper has been an institution in the region for generations and has had immeasurable access to the daily lives of local people.
As a daily record of Black Country life over 100 years, the collection has significant historical and social relevance for the West Midlands and the nation. Spanning the majority of the 20th Century, it documents major shifts in society and landscape resultant of changes in politics, ideology, economics, culture, immigration, science, technology etc. These shifts are documented from the perspective of ‘ordinary’ people.
In a survey, conducted autumn 2013, many respondents believed the collection was “our” or “my” history related to “my friends”, “my family”, “my life”.
A survey respondent from Walsall, stated; “The Express and Star has always carried fantastic pictures of local events. Making the archive available would give thousands of people access to a unique record of the history of the Black Country.
“This is ordinary history, not the big events that are so well documented everywhere, these are fleeting glimpses, there for a moment and in danger of being lost for ever.
“Faces, fashions, housing, work, play, sports, education, the history of all these.
“Making the archive available would be one of the single greatest contributions that could be made to the glorious history of the Black Country.”
It is not possible to thank all those involved but this project would not have been possible without the following
The Midland News Association Ltd, publisher of the Express & Star: View website
The University of Wolverhampton, Faculty of Arts: View website
Wolverhampton City Archives: View website
National Lottery Heritage Fund: View website
Sita Brand, HLF mentor to project: View website
Orangeleaf, website partner: View website
Tricolor, heritage development and design partner: View website
Black Country Society: View website
Friends of Wolverhampton Archives: View website
Volunteers: Michael (Mick) Pearson, Ann Eales, Jackie Harrison, Patricia Hughes, Kathy Hughes, Claire Darke, Betty McCann, Paddy Davies, Priyesh Kumar Mistry, Chris Forrester, Kynan Cummings, Christine West, Brian Lester, Ned Williams. See also: Archive future bright thanks to volunteers
Worcestershire County Council digitisation service: View website
The National Archives: View website
And to everyone else who has helped us along the way