Back in 1990, Ordnance Survey transferred six boxes of photograph albums to the Greater Manchester County Record Office(GMCRO). The albums contained a series of photographs of minor revision points which were taken in the 1940s and 1950s. A minor revision point is a permanent physical feature in the landscape which is used as an anchor point for mapping – it can be a building, wall, hill – or if there is no physical feature, a marker in the ground. The boxes were carefully stored in the strong rooms at GMCRO and then moved to Archives+ at Central Library in 2014. A conversation between the archives staff and Ordnance Survey saw the spark of an idea: cataloguing the accurate location of a photograph can be incredibly difficult to do, but what if you had a set of photographs which were already accurately located? A set of photographs like those in the minor revision point albums…? This was an opportunity to do something clever with one of the Archives+ photograph collections, GIS and app technology, and Timepix is the result. Around 40,000 images are currently live, with many more to be added. They currently cover the city of Manchester and some of the Greater Manchester towns including Rochdale and Stockport, with plenty more to come.
Although it the accuracy of the photograph locations is remarkable, almost the most exciting thing about the photographs is the the fact they capture everyday life. The photo on this post is perfect case in point. They also capture a really interesting time in the history of Greater Manchester. Many of the photographs cover a time of great change in the post war period. There are photographs which incidentally capture adverts about the end of rationing, and the building of new homes. You never know, you might find your house, or even a relative!