The Beaford Old Archive

As well as building his own "endless tapestry" of rural north Devon life from 1972-1989, James Ravilious also initiated a project to collect older images of the same area.

Inspired by a local Women's Institute meeting exhibiting members' photograph collections, James began to ask his subjects whether they themselves had any old photographs of the area which they might like to have included in the Beaford Archive.

He collected these images by rephotographing them, working closely with his colleague George Tucker to build what they called the "Old Archive". Documentation relied upon the memories of those supplying the images; their recollections were carefully recorded, but often partial.

Additional images were accessioned by successive Beaford archivists, who also curated Old Archive exhibitions aimed at collecting the hidden histories in the images. The Old Archive now contains over 7,000 images, most of which date from 1880-1930 and predate the arrival of the Brownie camera in the region.

Searching the Old Archive

This site contains digitised images of the entire Beaford Old Archive, indexed according to the keywords in the catalogue. So, for example, the image of a ploughing match in Marwood in November 1906 can be reached either via a search for 'Marwood' or for 'Ploughing Match'.

Preserving our history

Do you know more about the subjects of Old Archive images? On each image page you'll find a link to "Add Information". Please click on it - you'll be able to send us your comments and help uncover the hidden histories of life in rural north Devon.

Buying prints 
You can order copies of any print by clicking on "Add to Basket", although these will be as you see them on screen - those that were ragged and ripped when they entered the Archive will reproduce that way! For more information on buying images click on the ‘Buying images’ button