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 Hidden Histories of rural north Devon: Opening up the Beaford Archive

Hidden Histories of rural north Devon: Opening up the Beaford Archive

Tuesday 13 December 2016 10:54am

Beaford Arts has secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to carry out a major conservation and digitisation exercise that will curate and publish online around 10,000 unseen images that together illustrate the late 20th Century social history of rural north Devon.

The Beaford Archive is a photographic record of people and community in rural north Devon containing more than 80,000 images covering the 120-year period 1870 to 1990.  According to the Royal Photographic Society, it is “…a unique body of work, unparalleled, at least in this country, for its scale and quality”.  However, few of these images are currently accessible to the public. 

Hidden Histories is a three-year project and will include:

•        Digitising, cataloguing, archiving and publishing to the web approximately 10,000 existing 35mm black and white negatives from the James Ravilious and Roger Deakins Beaford Archives

•        Production of a new fully searchable website to provide a showcase for existing digitised work, newly digitised images and audio, and new work as it is produced

•        A programme of oral history, learning and community activity which will create new work and engage people in learning and education


Volunteers will be the backbone of this project, with roles available supporting all areas of work including the conservation and digitisation of the Archive itself, helping to support our community events and education programme, and carrying out the immensely important collection of oral histories from locals connected to the archive.

A programme of workshops will take place in schools throughout North Devon, linking children with their wider communities and local heritage; a series of memory cafes will be held with older members of our communities; a new website will host online galleries of new work created in response to the Archive, as well as opportunities for users to contribute their own memories and knowledge about the newly digitised images.

A series of free project launch events will be held throughout North Devon during 2017, so please keep an eye on the website for more information about these.

If you are interested in getting involved, or would like to know more please get in touch with Beaford Arts at archive(at) or 01769 572573.

Hidden Histories of rural north Devon: Opening up the Beaford Archive has been further supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Elmgrant Trust, Fullabrook CIC, Leader 5 Torridge and North Devon, and the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.