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South West Image Bank

The South West Image Bank is a community-led photographic archive, founded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and maintained by the Plymouth Barbican Trust.

Based in the historic Barbican area of Plymouth, SWIB are the custodians of over 1 million images of the south west region's past.

This year we have worked with the team to raise their profile, develop a sponsorship proposition. This has secured funding that will help the team continue their fantastic work as well as developing a strategic connection with Plymouth Citybus.

Established in 2007 to collect, preserve and safeguard the photographic heritage of the South West Region, SWIB specialises in social history; the stories of ordinary people and how those have come to define the strong sense of place, pride and identity in the South West of England. 

SWIB is run by one part-time Archive Director, supported by a team of volunteers who are committed to providing positive outcomes to the local community through access to over 170 individual collections.

SWIB is the largest photographic archive in the South West:

  • Dates from 1890 to 2009
  • Notable and useable collections including:
    • THE WESTERN MORNING NEWS/ THE PLYMOUTH HERALD Photographic Archive 1950s-2000s; Depicting the largest post war development of the city through to community activities and social events in living memory. Spans Devon & Cornwall.
    • ROY WESTLAKE COLLECTION 1940s-1990s; Commercial photographer whose collection includes; rebuilding of Plymouth after it was devastated in the Second World War, construction of the Civic centre and the Royal visit by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip for the opening in July 1962. Images of Dartmoor and the coast, which really convey the beauty of the South West.
    • THE CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETIES COLLECTION; Spanning the growth of the Co-operative from the early 1900’s to the 1900’s, including many internal store shots, window displays and even Vidal Sassoon in the 1960’s.
    • DINGLES COLLECTION (House of Fraser) 1940s to the 1980s; This collection includes images from the interior and exterior of the buildings, the staff at work, a number of events taking place at Dingles during this period and pictures of the Blitz.
  • Found within our collections other notable events include; Tamar Bridge Construction, Sir Francis Chichester’s return to Plymouth in Gypsy Moth IV after voyaging around the world, Plymouth Argyle and Home Park.
  • Two beautifully preserved collections of Victorian life in the South West dated c1890 and the Ron Andrews Collection covering 1920’s Life and Politics in the South West.  
Royal William Yard, Plymouth