Photographic collection captures changing face of city

A collection of more than 6,000 images capturing the changing face of Ripon over the past century is to be preserved, digitised, catalogued and made publicly accessible online thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund support.

Ripon Re-Viewed is the result of many months of work by a group of Ripon Civic Society volunteers investigating the collections of photographic negatives housed in Ripon library. From original glass plates dating from the 1890s through to acetate negatives on a range of formats, these collections document life in Ripon through each decade of the twentieth century – people, places, buildings, industries, major events and everyday life.

A Heritage Lottery Fund award of £59,000 will enable the conservation and digitisation of the images to be undertaken with support from North Yorkshire County Record Office. The professional conservator based at the Record Office in Northallerton will advise on the conservation, cleaning and repackaging of the fragile negatives. The reprographics team will then scan the negatives to make high-quality digital images. Once digitisation is complete, the original material will be stored in the Record Office’s archive strongrooms.

Local volunteers will then have an opportunity to get involved in the work of cataloguing and compiling descriptive information from the collection under the guidance of a project manager.

The images are likely to prompt many recollections from the people of Ripon, and collating accurate, detailed and interesting information will then allow people to search for images that relate to their interest – whether that is a particular street, a school group or an event. They will all be available on a Ripon Re-Viewed website.

In addition to the website, Ripon Civic Society will work with local partners to develop themed exhibitions and presentations over the two years of the project.

David Winpenny, Chairman of Ripon Civic Society, said: “This major project will open a new window on Ripon’s past and preserve important pictures of life in the city for future generations. I am delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded us this grant. Thank you to them and to North Yorkshire County Council, especially to staff in its library service and archive service, who have been very helpful in formulating the idea. Above all, thank you to the dedicated members of the Ripon Re-Viewed project committee for all their hard work. Now the real work of caring for the images begins.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for the Library and Archive Service, said: “The Ripon Re-Viewed project will enable everyone to enjoy and benefit from this fascinating visual record of Ripon’s development through the twentieth century. The project is a great example of how the Library and Archive Service can work in partnership with the community to open up access to previously underused collections.”

Fiona Spiers, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Saving our historic archives is important as they provide such a valuable insight into the past. This project will provide volunteers and the community with the opportunity to learn new skills and find out about what life was like, and how Ripon has changed over the past 120 years.”

Updates on the project will be posted on the Ripon Civic Society website, More information is also available from project chairman Mandy Whitehead at