Barnardo's denies that it ever planned to destroy its historic archive of half a million photographs, but the childrenu2019s charity accepts it must find a new home for thousands of images.

The charity was responding to an online petition calling on the UK Government to save 500,000 original Barnardo’s images and 300 films dating back to 1874, amid fears that the charity is set to destroy them as part of a digitisation plan.

The move followed an article that appeared on the British photographic history website.

The Barnardo’s team responsible for the archive is moving to a new East London base. But the building is not large enough to house all the photos.

The collection includes a visual history of Barnardo’s work in Canada and Australia.

Among those backing the petition was Thelma Eley from Australia.

In a blog accompanying the petition she wrote: ‘There is a direct emotional impact when a person touches a photo of themselves or a family member.

‘It links them back in time directly, far more so than a digitised version or a copy of a photo.

‘There is something different about an original photograph. It is vital that these photos be saved in their original form.’

The petition was drawn up by Geoff Barker of Sydney, Australia and has so far won more than 1,000 signatures.

However, Barnardo’s says the fears on which the protests were based are misplaced.

‘We are not going to destroy our photographic archive,’ insisted a Barnardo’s spokeswoman, who also disputed the numbers involved.

But she accepted that the charity needs to find a new home for 210,000 photographs once they have been digitised, because the new premises are too small and the cost of storing the pictures under climate-controlled conditions too high.

Yet, it seems the pictures may not be left homeless. There may be a happy ending.

Interest generated by the online commotion may help secure the archive’s future.

Barnardo’s tells Amateur Photographer that the petition has led to 40 offers to re-house part of its archive as a direct result of the petition.

  • Bobbie

    Who or what can be trusted to take on such an archive and give it tender loving care? Barnardo’s, not without funds one surmises, we see has decided to abnegate an expensive specialised responsibility of caring for its pictorialised waifs and strays bumped, scratched, torn and scuffed, insensitively or indifferently treated as they may or may not have been – not far removed from the Victorian and Edwardian urchins photographically portrayed had experienced degradation before Dr. Barnardo appeared with his tripod camera and offer of porridge and a bed for the night – which waifs & strays are presently stuffed into inhospitable cardboard boxes or the like – tied, taped, labelled and numbered ready for transportation all over again to an uncertain future.

  • Bobbie

    I have already commented as the first to do so as you request from viewers of this site. Why has my input not been acknowledged?

  • Bobbie

    I thought the Barnardo’s archive was numbered at 500,000 not the 210,000 photographs quoted in the Amateur Photographer article. That huge discrepancy is worrying as, for such a valuable collection, security and integrity of the the archive is paramount to preservation of stories (the whole story) held within the Barnardo’s photos.