Flickr hosted Preston Digital Archive has now reached a staggering landmark of twenty million viewings by people from Preston and the world over.
Whether the people consulting the archive are Preston residents, ex-pats or those just simply using it for the pleasure of seeing the images or for research, the number of people viewing are in their thousands every day. Preston street scenes, parks, docks, cotton mills, architecture, engineering, famous people, it’s all there to view 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
So what’s the big attraction? If you are a born and bred Prestonian the archive is a must to browse through, even if you have never heard of Preston, you cannot help being seduced by the incredible number of amazing vintage images available to view. In fact, to date there are over 12,300 images stored, all categorised into appropriately named albums for ease of access.
The Preston Digital Archive is the brainchild of Preston born Barney Smith who has always had an insatiable appetite for vintage Preston related photographic images, artefacts, memorabilia and ephemera.
In January 2008 Barney searched for a suitable platform to exhibit some digital images of olden Preston scenes and postcards which he had in his possession and decided to make use of the Flickr website, a popular photo-sharing and hosting service. Within a year or so the archive was beginning to grow exponentially as Barney found more and more images to digitise.
Over time, many people have contributed to the archive since its inception and today it holds an unparalleled set of images and other items of interest which, without a doubt, would take an unprecedented amount of time to view comprehensively.
There are so many uses that people can make of the archive, however, research into Preston’s history has to be one of the most interesting. Some of the oldest photographers of the mid nineteenth century captured many Preston street scenes from their time and a great number of those are exhibited in the archive. There are many scenes where most of the buildings and even the streets themselves no longer exist, swept away and replaced by more modern architecture or even, as often is the case, completely new roads.
BlogPreston recently featured a series of Mystery Photos from Preston Digital Archive which asked readers to see if they could identify the locations or scenes from an unknown collection of images; it certainly kept everyone busy sleuthing their way through each batch of the series. Take a look yourself and see if you can solve some of the mystery photos still without a positive description or exact location.
Currently the World War One Casualty album is proving very popular and the archive staff have been inundated with all kinds of comments and queries. Recently, there has been a number of viewers commenting that this is the first time family members have seen an actual photo of a relative that was killed in action during the Great War! How incredibly wonderful and at the same time so poignant this must have been for the people concerned. Yet another good reason to go and view the archive and see what you can discover for yourself.
A great advantage of the Preston Digital Archive is that it is entirely free to view; all that is asked of you is to only use the images for your own personal or educational purposes. Many of the images are copyrighted and are courtesy of the owners and various establishments who, in their great generosity, have given permission to Preston Digital Archive to exhibit the digitised images.
So, there you have it. Now all that remains is for you to go and delve into the archive and immerse yourself in all those fabulous images just waiting to delight you in many ways.
Whatever your interest, as long as it is to do with Preston, there will be something for you.
…Be warned though, you may well lose many hours while browsing!
Because Preston Digital Archive relies entirely on image donations they kindly ask anyone, who may well have some old Preston photographs stored away somewhere, to contact the team with a view to allowing them to be displayed on the archive. A member of the Preston Digital Archive staff will do any digitising necessary either at a location of your choice or will even collect and return your originals, if you so desire.
If you contact Preston Digital Archive by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org a member of the team will be happy to make arrangements with you for a visit to your home or let you know the image donation procedure for you to send hard or digitised copies yourself.
On behalf of the whole Preston Digital Archive team, Barney Smith would like to sincerely thank all who have donated images over the years and is looking forward to seeing even more of your Preston images in the near future.
What do you think of the PDA and could you donate any old Preston photos? Let us know in the comments below.