The history of South Tyneside in 20,000+ images - South Shields library volunteers celebrate 16 years of work

Volunteers have captured tens of thousands of images covering the history of South Tyneside to make them available to them all.

The Digitisation Group was formed at South Shields Library in 2003 by the Local Studies librarian at the time, with the aim of computerising the vast amounts of images showing the borough over the decades.

The volunteers set up in the basement of the former South Shields Library in Prince Georg Square, off Fowler Street.

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A successful application for Lottery Funding provided funding for the digitisation of the extensive photographs, maps, calling cards and pamphlets that make up the local history archives.

The Digitisation Group.

Margaret Hamilton, a member of the group, said: “The first volunteers received digital photographic training in October 2003 and by 2004 more volunteers had been recruited and trained to start the process of digitising the archives, thus ensuring their safety and to make them widely available to the public for research and personal use.

"The Digitisation Group was a small group of nine people who met once a week and have been responsible for putting more than 20,000 images on the local history web site over the past 16 years. Unfortunately due to the Covid pandemic work had to stop in March 2020.

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"The website www.southtynesidehistory.co.uk is considered one of the best in the country thanks to the hard work and dedication of these volunteers.”

Margaret said the 20,000 photograph mark was reached several years ago and the group continued adding more images from the archives.

They also received pictures donated from The Shields Gazette archive, along with other public donations made to the library until the first Covid-19 lockdown, when their work had to stop.

Margaret said: “During the Covid pandemic work on the project was stopped and unfortunately it was decided by the library personnel to end the work of the group once the restrictions were lifted."

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To mark their achievement and willingness to go the extra mile over the 16 years, the Supporters of South Tyneside Libraries committee unanimously agreed to celebrate the work of the group by funding a celebratory afternoon tea at Coffey by Name in South Shields.

The group members, in alphabetical order, are Eileen Burnett, Margaret Hamilton, Janet List, Pat McLernon, Pam McTaggart, Joy Parker, Richard Purvis, Pauline Shawyer and Terry Turnbull.