When stone age man first discovered he could get a good meal in exchange for a flint axe head, trade became the foundation of society. Later, when he discovered he could get a better meal in the next valley, travel became an essential part of that trade. Eventually, weighed down with all those axe heads and somewhat out of condition due to all the good food, he invented transport. No fool our stone age man!
Today, transport, travel and trade are at the very heart of life as we know it. They are continually changing in response to new demands, fashons and trends. New technologies replace those we grew up with and we probably didn’t even notice it happening.
For tomorrow’s historians, somebody probably photographed the various aspects of the “3Ts”, the roads, shops, factories and the transport that served them.
Every week of every year, somebody, somewhere, throws away those “unwanted” negatives or slides. Perhaps they think they are of no interest? “We have the prints, why do we need these old negatives” Perhaps they can’t find a new home for them? Somebody dies, a business folds, maybe someone simply looses interest. Either way the result is the same and those original images, all those snapshots in time, are lost forever.
So who are we – and why?
The purpose of our archive is to collect together as many of the surviving original images (negatives or slides) as possible, making prints available to anyone with an interest. Since stone age man wasn’t exactly renowned for his photographic skills, we can only cover the last bit from the end of the nineteenth century.
Since 1996 we have collected together thousands of colour negatives and slides as well as tens of thousands of original black and white negatives. We estimate our current holdings to be in the order of 300,000 original negatives and slides of which only a small proportion have been catalogued. (See under “Contents” in left margin.) These photographs have come from both professional and amateur photographers alike, all with one thing in common, that those donating them would like them to be kept together for the benefit of later generations.
We have probably “lost” ten times that number but any success, no matter how small, must be welcome.
To fund our work we sell photos to enthusiasts and occasionally we manage to get something published but it’s never enough to cover the expense of buying conservation materiels and acquiring the more interesting negatives that come to light.
We are strictly a not-for-profit organisation and in common with many others we are always in need of volunteers to help with our work. If you have some spare time and would like to help please get in touch but, for the time being, enjoy the site.