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November 2017

Mollie has been busy scanning pictures to add to our Flickr photo albums.

I am Mollie, the Archive Assistant Trainee. As you can see from some of my past blogs, while I have been working at the BMIHT Archive I have also been undertaking the distance learning Masters in Archives and Records Management with the University of Dundee. As part of my last module, I was asked to write a report on an outreach activity I would like to undertake as part of my day job. I've become really interested in outreach and, as I've spent a lot of time working with our extensive photographic collections, I decided to advocate the use of Flickr to promote some of our lesser known images. Gillian, the BMIHT Archivist, was keen to implement the idea and so this has become one of my latest projects.

The BMIHT Archive has a vast collection of images from the Longbridge, Canley, Cowley, Pressed Steel, Wolseley, Rover, Lucas and Dunlop factories. These images show many aspects of factory life, from the production lines to staff parties and everything in between. As the negatives of these images cannot be viewed in our Reading Room for conservation reasons, we thought that the best way to share some of them would be online. Flickr is an interactive photo sharing website which allows anyone to comment on the photographs and tag their favourites to view again later. The page we have set up is doing extremely well with over 157,000 views to date; at the moment our most popular image is the Austin A40 body drop at 808 views.

The Longbridge production line in 1948, showing an Austin A40 Devon body being carefully lowered onto the chassis.

As we reported in September, we are currently working with the Business Archives Council to deliver a project to create an electronic catalogue for the Lucas Collection, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to share some of the wonderful images it contains. Alison, the Lucas Archivist, has picked out a wide selection of some of her favourite images, from family portraits of the Lucas family to advertisements and social clubs. My particular favourite from the album shows the members of the K2 steering controls department dressed up as medical staff to demonstrate the cleanliness of the department.

Dr C Lapworth and his 'medical staff' in the K2 steering controls department with 'George' the skeleton.

As well as the Lucas Collection, we have created albums for the Longbridge, Canley and Wolseley Collections. All four Collections show Birmingham, Coventry and the surrounding areas at different time periods and are an excellent source for social history. The Wolseley Collection contains the oldest images and is one which is very close to my heart as I spent a good year sorting through the glass plates and putting them in archival sleeves and boxes. This album contains pictures images relating to the First and Second World Wars as well as glamorous pictures of the 1930s and 40s. Unfortunately we did not have a negative register so the descriptions have been put together by one of our volunteers (with the odd addition from myself). Therefore any knowledge anyone has would be extremely useful. My current favourite is of a party in the canteen; however, I don’t know the date or the occasion!

A party in the Wolseley factory canteen, which from the dresses would appear to date from the post-war 1940s. Unfortunately the lack of a catalogue means we don't know any more than this.

The Longbridge and Canley albums contain more modern images, which means that you may be able to spot yourself or someone you know. If you do, let us know! We constantly stumble across interesting and unusual photographs and will continue to add to the existing albums as well as creating new ones. You don't need a Flickr account to view the images but you can create an account to comment and contribute your own experiences and add to our descriptions. We would love it if you could join in and help us identify people and places which have been long forgotten.

So please pay a visit to our albums on... https://www.flickr.com/photos/bmiht/albums/with/72157688661748495. All images that we post on Flickr are available to buy through our photographic service. Many of them can be found on our online photographic shop at www.motorgraphs.com. If you don't see the image you want there, then just email our photo library at photo@britishmotormuseum.co.uk with the reference number of the image you want to buy and we will upload it for you. We look forward to meeting you on Flickr!