What we do
We run a contemporary photographic archive dedicated to the people and county of Yorkshire. All images are shot on film by members and are stored and archived to museum standards. The archive is free to use and all images in it are free for non-commercial use (details here).
We're a not-for-profit Company Limited by Guarantee (No.10435444) - our directors receive no direct or indirect remuneration from the project.
How we survive
We don't get grants to keep us going - we want to be self-sustaining, and therefore rely on print sales, commissions, membership and donations. Anyone can join as a member and, if they wish, contribute to the archive. Contributing members pay for their own film but receive free training, free camera loan, reduced developing costs and many more benefits. You can join or donate here.
Who can contribute?
Anyone who becomes a member can contribute. All items in the archive have to be documented to a very high standard - as a member, you'll be given training to do that.
The Westerman family had been running a photography studio in Hebden Bridge since 1892, and Ada Westerman was looking for an apprentice to learn the trade and mind the shop. Alice decided it was worth leaving school early, battling both teachers and parents, to follow her passion.
The remarkable thing is that for the next 70 years Alice Longstaff did just that. She photographed many of the great 20th century changes taking place in the valley: old buildings coming down and new buildings going up. She even took some of the earliest aerial photographs of our towns and villages. Portraits, though, were her stock-in-trade. Her lens captured decade after decade of weddings, birthdays, concerts, carnivals, theatricals, sports events, choirs, outings, and special occasions of every sort. Local businesses, shops and traders all marked their achievements with new images. The latest photograph to appear in the window of what became Alice’s own studio in 1936 was always the talk of the town and her cameras seemed forever to have been at the very heart of the community.
One of the most popular images in the Alice Longstaff Collection, but not taken by her! Photo by the Rev. Heswell.
When Alice died in 1992, she left not only all her own photographic images, but also many of those taken by her Westerman predecessors. Now known as the Alice Longstaff Collection and curated by the Pennine Horizons Digital Archive at The Birchcliffe Centre in Hebden Bridge, this unparalleled continuous photographic record tells over a century of the Upper Valley’s history, and - since everything was taken on film or glass plate - these images will last long into the future.
Alice Longstaff dedicated 70 years of her life to photographing the people of the Upper Calder Valley.
The start of an idea
In early 2015, a group of local amateur photographers got together on a dark, rainy evening in the White Lion pub and wondered if it might be possible to make a modern Alice Longstaff Collection - still shot on film (for its longevity), but taking advantage of technology to make it available to anyone, anywhere.
And so the After Alice Project began: a community project sharing a commonwealth of skills and donated equipment, and dedicated to the resurgence of film photography.
Less than two years down the line, we're there - with this online archive. Over 11,000 images from all over Yorkshire shot so far, and we're gradually documenting them all and making them accessible here.
In 2016, we were awarded the “Best New Community Archive” award by the Community Archives and Heritage Group, a division of the Archives and Records Association. That’s about as near as it gets to an Oscar win for any community archive.
We plan to keep this archive going for at least 100 years. That means training new people, maintaining the cameras and getting out there to all corners of the county with our cameras.
Old photos courtesy of Pennine Horizons Digital Archive - please follow the link for copyright information.
Who uses the archive?
Apart from anyone who lives in or loves Yorkshire, here are just a few of the organisations, publications, exhibitors and websites that have used us:
Hebden Bridge Times & Todmorden News
Hebweb community website
Pennine Horizons Digital Archive
Hebden Bridge Local History Society
Welcome Independent Living
Hebden Bridge Arts Festival
Hebden Bridge Picture House
This project would not exist without the exceptional generosity of so many people who have donated time, equipment, advice, expertise, training, storage and meeting space, as well as boundless imagination and practical common sense. An immense thank you to you all.
A huge thank you to:
The inspirational Alice Longstaff & Ada Westerman (without whom…)
Hebden Royd Town Council
Frank Woolrych and Ann Kilbey (Pennine Horizons Digital Archive)
Jinny Riley (Word of Mouth Art & Craft Supplies, Valley Road, Hebden Bridge)
Les Siddall (and everyone at the Ground Floor Project)
Helen Meller (and the team at Hebden Bridge Arts Festival)
Dr Niamh Moore (Edinburgh University)
Phil Vaughan (our training officer, who sadly died in 2016)
Community Archive & Heritage Group (Archives and Records Association)
Chris Ratcliffe of Hebweb (the UK’s first and finest community website)
Tom Rattray (for far more than you can imagine!)
Diana Monahan (Hebden Bridge History Society)
Lisa (The Coffee Station café at Hebden Bridge station)
Rosie Blunn, Shack and Creedy (Recycle Radio)
Staff and pupils of Heptonstall Junior, Infant and Nursery School
Staff and pupils of Colden Junior and Infant School
The Egg Factory
Kate Rogers (1916 Project)
Issy Shannon (journalist and authority on all things “Alice”)
The White Lion, Hebden Bridge (where the idea of After Alice was born)
Janet Lymer (Heptonstall Village Team)
T & M Pictures (framers at Hebble End, Hebden Bridge)
John Greenwood and Felicity MacNamara (Hebden Bridge Times)
Hebden Bridge Chess Club
Doodson's insurers (for making good use of their old office furniture)
Luddendenfoot Women's Institute
Kate Hanson (Hebden Bridge Steampunk Festival)
Mike Gibbons (Bradford City Council)
The Hebden Bridge shopkeepers who hosted our first exhibition
David Gray (plumber & handyman)
Friendly Landscapes (who built our mezzanine storage)
And of course, our members (past and present)
Julie Rose Clark
Kevin Tynan Bowe
Alex J Brown
And our Steering Group members (past and present)
Jo Hirons - accounts, press officer and wordsmith
Bruce Cutts - lead photographer, commercial liason and exhibitions officer
Kathryn Jenner - lead archivist, curator and meticulous proofreader
'H' Gregg - webmaster, camera maintenance and training
Phil Vaughan - former training officer and greatly missed
Tom Rattray - former technical dude and a brilliant photographer who developed our backup system
Sooze Hodgin - chief librarian and former membership secretary
Darren Pardoe - one of the first steering goup members and responsible for helping with our early aerial shots
Some samples from our archive:
Click on any image to see its details.
On Duke Street, Haworth. In this photo Kimi (REDACTED) (L) and Neo (REDACTED) (R)
A vintage Royal Enfield parked at Oxenhope Station.
Yorkshire ambulance team demonstrating resuscitation techniques on Main Street outside the town hall.
Camping out at Callis Mill and preparing for a proposed cycle trip to Iran.
Hebden Bridge Brownies recreated a 1916 classroom at Hope Baptist Chapel, complete with a very strict teacher and a nit nurse. This was a part of the…
On Hilton Street, Hebden Bridge
The After Alice project's 1000 photo exhibition. Held at the Ground Floor project, Salem Mill, Hebden Bridge. On the left Phil Vaughan.
A day's walk on Whernside in early summer
A heritage open day tour of this fabulous and very popular theatre in Church Street. Run by the Pateley Bridge Dramatic Society (PBDS) is a small…
Street entertainment in Market Square.
View of Branch Road, Batley.
From Height Road. The white patch on the hill is covering over a recently discovered asbestos tip.