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Cash donations save Gazette archive

Historic editions of the Mid Devon Gazette have been saved from an uncertain future.

The Gazette archive, dating back to 1858, which is stored at the Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life, was in danger of being lost forever as the older editions became brittle and began to fall apart.

But thanks to the lottery-backed Newsplan 2000 project, which seeks to preserve fragile collections of newspapers, the archive has been saved.

Editions of the paper between the years of 1858 and 1950 have now been put on microfilm so that they can be accessed for years to come.

The museum had to raise £2,940 to pay Newsplan for doing the micro-filming. The full price would have been about £15,000. Contributions came from Lloyd Maunders Butchers and other local benefactors.

Newsplan 2000 agreed to re-film the old Gazettes after being alerted by editor Mary-Ann Bloomfield to the museum’s appeal.

She said: “This generously-funded work means that the Gazettes chronicling life in the area from mid-Victorian times can live on well into the future.”

Museum curator John Leach said: “The papers got to the point where I couldn’t let the public have access to them any more. The Gazettes are the most used part of our collection – there is a huge demand.

“It is mainly people researching local family history by using the births, deaths and marriages records.

“The problem is, the more they get used, the more they fall apart. Now we can allow people to look at the archive without fear of damaging the paper.

“It is a truly astounding collection.”

A full collection, plus new microfilm reader, is being deposited at Tiverton’s new public library.

The Mid Devon Gazette series now has titles covering Tiverton, the Culm Valley and Crediton areas.

It started life on April 27, 1858 as the Tiverton Gazette and East Devon Herald.

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