John Ashton is the Photographic Archive assistant for Bradford Museums and Galleries. He agreed to write a blog for us on whats been happening with the archive recently.
As regular visitors to the Explore page in the Photo Archive section of our website will know, the column which changes most regularly is the one headed ‘Recently Digitised’. It shows a thumbnail and brief description of the very latest images to be uploaded and seen by the world.
Housed at Bradford Industrial Museum, the Archive contains almost half a million prints and negatives, both glass and film, from several collections.
The biggest of these, numbering around 300,000 images, is that of Bradford based commercial photographer, CH Wood. You can read about him and his work in other sections of this site.
Important smaller collections include the images of Christopher Pratt; taken during the early years of the twentieth century, and those of Bradford Heritage Recording Unit; the museum service’s own team of photographers whose work shows how Bradfordians lived, worked and played in the 1980s.
As you might realise, processing such a huge number of images so they can be uploaded to this site and seen by more people is taking some time.
It’s even quite a task selecting which images we’re going to digitise; the choice is vast. Most of the time selection arises from an enquiry by a member of the public. On other occasions images are processed and printed to support an exhibition at one of our museums.
However the choice is made, newly digitised images are uploaded to our website and highlighted in the ‘Recently Digitised’ section. The best of these ‘new’ photographs are also printed and displayed in the foyer at Bradford Industrial Museum under the title, you guessed it: ‘Recently Digitised’.
The Big Screen
Throughout 2015 and continuing this year, the museum service has partnered with Bradford City of Film to present selections of our images on the Big Screen in Centenary Square.
Shown each day at 12.15, images have been grouped under titles including ‘Right Here, Right Then’ – pictures taken over the decades but within a stone’s throw of where the screen is now; ‘Selling The Past’ – a look at shops and sales people over the years; and ‘Bradford People, People in Bradford’ – famous and not-so-famous individuals in various parts of the city.
For our latest presentation we thought we’d highlight the ongoing work with a selection of our latest finds; our Most Recently Digitised images. All CH Wood photographs, taken in the 1950s, they show a wide range of scenes and activities.
The story behind these particular images is quite an interesting one. Many of CH Wood’s early negatives were regrettably discarded when the company moved from premises on Emm Lane in Heaton to a new building on Leeds Road.
We are left with information about them, from original handwritten registers, but not the images themselves, However, this set was donated to Bradford Industrial Museum as prints, shortly after it opened in the 1970s. We were delighted to find that almost all of them were ones for which the negative was listed as ‘destroyed’, making them the only copies in existence.
Since this ‘rediscovery’ we’ve been hard at work scanning the prints so that they can now be seen on our website and, of course, on the Big Screen.
The Big Screen is currently displaying another selection of our images in a theme entitled ‘Winter Days’.
The ‘Recently Digitised’ show opens on 27 January and will be displayed every day at 12.15 until 9 March.