High Bickington is the focus for the first in a series of showcase events revealing never-before-seen pictures from the Beaford Archive

This Sunday sees the launch of the Hidden Histories project and the unveiling of countless unseen pictures of North Devon communities.

The first focus from the Beaford Arts initiative is High Bickington, with a special exhibition of photographs from the village’s past available to view at the Community Centre from 2-5pm.

Hidden Histories of Rural North Devon: Opening up the Beaford Archive features around 10,000 unseen black and white photos by the prolific and well-known local photographers James Ravilious and Roger Deakins.

The vibrant and unique three-year project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and will see the images from the photographers’ archives digitised and publicly available on a new website.

Hidden Histories - Silver Jubilee celebrations, High Bickington, June 1977. Picture: Beaford ArtsHidden Histories - Silver Jubilee celebrations, High Bickington, June 1977. Picture: Beaford Arts

The late James Ravilious took literally tens of thousands of pictures of North Devon life after moving to the area in the 1970s, capturing all walks of life and immortalising them forever as part of the Beaford Archive, which is now recognised as a nationally important collection.

In the coming weeks there will be a series of free events across the region to celebrate the launch of the Hidden Histories project.

A host of volunteering opportunities are on offer to assist with the digitisation, cataloguing, and preservation of the images, as well as the collection of oral histories from people with special insights into the photographs.

Members of the Hidden Histories team will be on hand to share information about the volunteering opportunities and what to expect in the forthcoming months and years of the project.

Writer Pearl Springer telling stories to school children, High Bickington, June 1986. Picture: Beaford ArtsWriter Pearl Springer telling stories to school children, High Bickington, June 1986. Picture: Beaford Arts

An oral historian will be in attendance and looking for people interested in becoming trained in oral history techniques, to help support in the ongoing collection of stories and memories.

In association with Beaford Arts the Gazette will be bringing you more snapshots of North Devon life from different communities as the project tours the area.

The following event is at Woolacombe on April 23, again from 2-5pm.

Hidden Histories of Rural North Devon: Opening up the Beaford Archive has been further supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Elmgrant Trust, Fullabrook CIC, Leader 5 Torridge and North Devon, and the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.