North Devon Athenæum press photo archive online

The North Devon Journal recently carried news of the completion of the North Devon Athenæum's project to digitise 6000 images from its 1950s North Devon Journal collection.

Taking a digital trip down memory lane (December 15th) reports:

For decades a treasure trove of photographs of North Devon has lain untouched in cupboards and store rooms.

They are the surviving record of an age of photography receding fast in the new digital age.

Some were accidentally dumped, others have suffered from breakage and damp.

But thousands were preserved, more were rescued, and now they are seeing the light of day again.


Now the North Devon Athenaeum has opened a collection of 6,000 digitised pictures made from the negatives covering a decade from 1949.

Thanks to a grant from the Bideford Bridge Trust, the entire collection has at long last completed the digital process.

Massive interest in archive of negatives reports briefly on the response. The collection of press photos, digitised from glass slide negatives, is searchable from the North Devon Athenæum home page, and returns medium-resolution index images.

As its site describes, the North Devon Athenaeum was founded in 1888 by the local philanthropist William Frederick Rock to replace the Barnstaple Literary and Scientific Institute he had set up in 1845, and designed to be a free library and museum for the local area. It has since diversified to become a wide-ranging research resource and service for local and family history, with a large general collection, with specific archives including the North Devon Journal Archive, the Harding Collection (left by the antiquarian, Lt. Col. Harding), the John Gay Collection, and the William Richard Lethaby Collection.

The Athenæum's full catalogue is also online.

- RG