10:00AM, Thursday 31 October 2019
A digital archive launched today (Thursday) will allow people to delve into the pages of local history, some going back more than 200 years.
The Baylis Media Ltd ePaper and Archive is an online portal which holds printed editions of the Advertiser from 1870, the Windsor Express from 1812 and the Slough Express from 1950.
It has been created by digitalising newspapers held on microfilm, processing more up-to-date editions of the papers held in PDF format and scanning the occasional bounded printed copy.
Jason Baylis, chairman of Baylis Media, and the company’s production and IT director, has been managing the three-year project, which has cost £38,000.
“We had a significant library of microfilm here at our main office and we thought it would be a fan-tastic resource for our community to have all this digitalised,” he said.
“We already had a fantastic online page-turning tool that was provided by a company called Pagesuite, and we had been using that for quite a few years for our online readers, so we’ve worked with them to develop and build an archive incorporating this page-turning service.”
He added: “The best part of this is you can browse any week, any month, any year, or you can do word or phrase searches.”
From how the world wars were reported on locally, to finding an article, or picture, featuring a loved one, the archive is the place to look.
Jason said: “We’re missing a couple of years of the Advertiser which we’re still trying to find – the British Library are helping us with that at the moment – and we’re missing a number of Express editions, all of which are listed on the website.”
There is no obligation to subscribe to the archive without searching for what you are looking for first – if you do find it then subscription options include a single edition, seven days, monthly and annual options.
To give people a flavour of the archived editions, there is a sample selection to browse.
Jason said: “This is to give people some comfort about how to use the reader before they spend the money.”
Clicking on the sample editions will enable users to use some of the key features of the page-reading tool, including zoom, bookmark, download, and print the pages.
Jeremy Spooner, chief executive officer of Baylis Media, said: “We are very proud of our new online archive which allows the community that we have served for over 150 years the opportunity to take their own step back in time, for whatever reason that may be.
“Local newspapers have been the custodians of a community’s history through its print archives and this initiative allows us to share that archive with the public.
“We will be allowing charities and educational establishments to have access without charge. Those interested should contact Jason.”
To view or download the archive go to www.baylismediaarchive.co.uk
Educators to have free access
The Louis Baylis Trust contributed £20,000 to The Baylis Media Ltd ePaper and Archive so it would be free for colleges, universities, schools and charities to access.
Peter Sands, chairman of the trust which owns Baylis Media, publisher of the Maidenhead Advertiser, the Windsor Express and the Slough Express, said: “We were in favour of digitalising the records because Maidenhead, Windsor and Slough are defined by their history really, and we’re in an age where the access is via the internet, so the principle of it being accessible to all was great – but our focus as a trust was that the education arena could have access free of charge.”
Mr Sands said he will probably be accessing the archive himself too.
He said: “There are occasions when I thought ‘I wonder what happened then’ or ‘is there a record of this?’.
“It will also include public notices which are interesting as well.”
He added: “We are in a fast changing world, but I think sometimes we can do well to reflect on our history.”
Free archive access for schools, colleges, universities and charities is available on request.
Libraries help to fill in the gaps
Libraries in Maidenhead and Slough played their part in creating the ePaper and Archive by loaning microfilm copies that were missing from the Baylis Media archives.
Barbara Story, museum, arts and local studies officer for the Royal Borough, believes that, given people’s interest in local history, the archive will be a great success.
She said: “I shouldn’t think there’s a day goes by when there’s not one or two people looking at the old Maidenhead Advertiser.
“People are often looking at their family history, something that happened in their street, sometimes they’re looking for their parents’ golden wedding anniversary.
“They want to see if their wedding was in there, and sometimes people are writing books – you’d be surprised.”
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