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Regional daily to digitise archive of 750,000 photos

A regional daily is bidding for money to digitise its entire photographic archive of around 750,000 images.

The Wolverhampton-based Express & Star is applying for Heritage Lottery Fund money to help it preserve its photos for future generations.

The project aims to make the whole archive, which dates back to the 1880s, available for people to view for free and the paper is being backed by Wolverhampton University and Wolverhampton Museums and Archives.

Under the plans, the title is also trying to recruit an army of volunteers to help scan the photographs and input caption information.

Announcing the plans for the online archive, Tom Graham, editorial executive at Midland News Association said: “The Express & Star’s bid for Heritage Lottery Fund money to preserve its photo archive is a major step towards ensuring this priceless collection is available for future generations.

“By making Britain’s biggest selling regional newspaper’s photographs available to the public in a digital format, local people will be able to enjoy this unrivalled document of the past for many years to come.

“The Black Country has undoubtedly one of the richest histories in Britain. We want future generations to be able to share that history by having access to amazing photographs from through the centuries.

“The trust established by the Express & Star means people have let the newspaper record their lives through photography for almost as long as photos have been taken in this region.

“As we move into the digital age, it is reassuring to think that the Express & Star’s collection could be preserved forever and enjoyed by generations to come.”

The archives range from major events for the country, like the First and Second World Wars and the Coronation, down to local events covered by its photographers over the decades.

Patricia Cooper, from the School of Art and Design at the University of Wolverhampton said: “I am really proud to be a part of the Express & Star’s philanthropic project to digitise their vast photo archive and open it up for public consumption.

“It is vital that we preserve this collection to conserve the Black Country’s diverse heritage for present and future generations to experience and enjoy.”

The university will assist in the project by providing technical expertise and students will have opportunities to volunteer.