The Hayle Mill photographic archive is the best collection illustrating papermaking in the UK and dates back to 1870. Apart from a large collection of prints on paper, I also own a significant collection of 7 x 7 inch glass plate negatives. Some of these are wet collodion. The detail on them is very fine, despite their age but they are all a moment away from a disastrous accident.
The Salle at Hayle Mill in 1921 © Simon Barcham Green
To both protect the image content against accidents and to enable the images to be viewed through the internet, Kent Photo Archive is in the process of digitising the entire collection. Roger Smoothy scans and cleans the images electronically and Roy Moore loads them on their website. All of the glass plate negatives of Hayle Mill are now on line and work will continue on the prints for many months ahead.
THE WEBSITE - www.kentphotoarchive.com - is a UK based non-commercial site dedicated to preserving old images of the County of Kent in the UK. It is run and maintained by a small group of enthusiastic volunteers interested in restoring , displaying and making digital copies of original material available for the public to view.
It originated in 2004 as part of a lottery funded joint project between the County town's local Museum (Maidstone Museum) and Camera Club (Maidstone C.C). Their project objective was to restore a collection of glass plate images found in the storerooms of the Museum and establish a database record together with high resolution digital scans of each image.
At the completion of the project the 'Kent Photo Archive' website was produced to fulfil the lottery fund requirement to make the images available for public viewing.
The volunteers have continued working with Maidstone Museum, other smaller County Museums, private collectors and local historical societies and, as a result, the site currently (February 2016) contains over 20,000 images of Kent's past with some dating back to the late 1800's.
Many of the old images on the site are accompanied by more recent pictures taken at the same locations giving the viewer a 'then and now' comparison.
All work is ongoing and new collections are added on a regular basis. The images are organised on the site in the collections from which they have come and in many cases you can find images of, for example, papermaking and papermills in unexpected places.
Not many counties are lucky enough to have such extensive photo collections on line and we are very fortunate to be able to benefit from the hard work by the volunteers mentioned.
For more information about www.kentphotoarchive.com you can contact:
Roy Moore - firstname.lastname@example.org
Roger Smoothy - email@example.com
Eric Hartland - firstname.lastname@example.org
Also visit their Facebook pages at 'Kent Photo Archive' and 'Finding Lost Kent'.
The images on the website are deliberately low resolution to discourage copying and to protect copyright. Anyone wishing to use images legitimately from my collection can contact me at email@example.com.