Welcome to the Express & Star photo archive website

Thank you for visiting the Express & Star photo archive website, home to historic photographs from the number one newspaper for the Black Country and surrounding areas.

Express & Star publisher the Midland News Association, 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.

1990: Malcolm Woolley putting a copy of the Express & Star into a time capsule at the Hulbert Group, Dudley

1990: Malcolm Woolley putting a copy of the Express & Star into a time capsule at the Hulbert Group, Dudley

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.

Its journalists have documented all aspects of life in the region, sharing the stories of the communities it serves.

The partners shared the aim of ensuring the photographs held by the newspaper at its offices in Wolverhampton could be digitised for free access.

First collection

To launch the website, photographs from the industry section of the collection were prioritised as they matched the 3,000 photograph limit set for the initial digitisation project.

The photographs are primarily from the 1970s through to the mid-1990s, which was when digital photography began to be more widely used by Express & Star photographers.

Not all of the photographs have been retained.

The archive was a working facility, where photographs were placed and removed on an hourly basis in the pre-digital age.

The photos that are left today total around 1m but they are only a fraction of those featured in the newspaper for more than a century.

The selection you can view today are the fruits of the efforts of a group of volunteers, who sifted through the shelves of the collection to prepare the images for preservation.

The digital Express & Star Photo Archive will see historical pictures of the public, architecture and events in the Black Country and beyond preserved safely online.

The project, which involves sifting through shelf after shelf of files to organise images for digitisation, has been transformed through the help of the volunteers.

Betty McCann, Kathy Hughes, Patricia Hughes, Christine West, Brian Lester, Ann Eales and Jackie Harrison, were among those who gave up a combined total of 260 days of goodwill time to help organise our physical archive ready for its transition to digital.

Back in 2014, little detailed information was known about our archive, which had become disorganised and in need of restructuring for transfer online.

So far, 65,000 photos have been sorted, mainly around the categories of war, changing landscape and industry thanks to the volunteers. See also: Archive future bright thanks to volunteers

The initiative aims to continue this vital archiving work to digitise the collection and make the photographs available through this website, allowing free online public access to the unrivalled images of local events, momentous and everyday, for the first time.

Woodfield junior school pupils Cameron McGregor, 9, and Eleanor Dosanjh, 10, during a 2013 visit to the Express & Star photo archive, Wolverhampton

Woodfield Junior School pupils Cameron McGregor, 9, and Eleanor Dosanjh, 10, during a 2013 visit to the Express & Star photo archive, Wolverhampton

Quality journalism

Chris Leggett, MNA Media director of marketing and communications, said: “On behalf of the MNA and its partners at the City Archives and the University of Wolverhampton, we are delighted to welcome you to view the photos from the historic past of the Express & Star region.

“It has taken a huge amount of time and effort by so many people in so many different organisations that it is impossible to thank them all.

“We are especially grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for their support in getting us to this stage, which we hope will be the first of many opportunities for photos which have been hidden for years to be made available to the public.”

The quality of the photographs is testimony to the talents of the photographers of previous generations, he added.

“When these photographs were taken they were meant for one purpose only, sharing the latest news with the readers in the next edition of the paper,” he said.

“The images come from a pre-digital age, which makes the technique and composition of each photo all the more impressive for modern audiences.

“The Express & Star continues to hold a high reputation for quality journalism, building upon the work of the photographers featured on this site.

“Finally, we have a lot of reasons to thank our volunteers. The project is based upon their incredible efforts which have kept the project going forward.”

Go next: https://photo-archive.expressandstar.co.uk//explore-the-collections/