Day the blacksmith shod an elephant

A unique photographic archive of life in North Devon, featuring more than 8,000 images dating from between 1870 and 1940 has been put on online. They were collected by well known local photographer James Ravilious, who gave them to the Beaford Centre. Man

A unique photographic archive of life in North Devon, featuring more than 8,000 images dating from between 1870 and 1940 has been put on online.

They were collected by well known local photographer James Ravilious, who gave them to the Beaford Centre.

Many people know of James Ravilious' own work for the Beaford Archive.

But fewer are aware that he also collected older photographs of North Devon at the same time.


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Now Beaford Arts has made this 8,000-strong historical document available online as a searchable database.

"James felt the Beaford Archive should be available for everyone," said Mark Wallace, director of Beaford Arts, "and we hope this is a good first step".

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Searchable by place and by subject, the new digitised database is the most comprehensive pictorial record of farming life in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

As well as detailed records of ploughing, harvests, weddings and holidays - often naming the person and place featured - the Beaford Old Archive also features such oddities as a blacksmith shoeing an elephant in High Bickington, and a 68ft whale beached at Hartland Point.

Recollections

James Ravilious built up his collection by asking local people if they had any old photographs. He then re-photographed them with the help of George Tucker.

As well as searching for old images of their village or their family, users can help build an even better historical record around the images.

Each picture has an "Add Information" button and users are invited to add their own recollections to the details listed, which over time will build James' collection into an even stronger historical resource.

And for the amateur historian and genealogist, for the first time all images are available to order as prints.

The Beaford Old Archive Online is at www.beafordarchive.org.uk

Beaford Arts is supported by Arts Council England and Devon County Council.

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