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We Want Your Shoeboxes!

By admin, 2017-04-08
We Want Your Shoeboxes!

There's nothing more frustrating than trying to find old pictures of the UK, especially when you're looking for the views that don't appear on old postcards. Of course, there are lots of pictures of the squares of pretty market towns, and the popular seafronts of the Victorian era, but lots of people desperately want to see the more mundane images - of their old corner shop, or even just their great-gran's street!

We get so many visitors (literally thousands) from the UK and abroad looking for these more 'obscure' views, but what's so frustrating is that although they probably do exist somewhere - in a shoebox, or a photo album or a loft somewhere - but they've never made it to where they can be looked at. Take this amazing picture of the inside of Pennington Mill in Leigh, Lancashire.

Taken by Reuben Edge, and kindly submitted by his family, it was shot just before the mill's demolition, and is arguably one of the last photos of the mill that for nearly 100 years was one of the significant employers in the town. If Reuben's family hadn't heard about what we were doing, there's a good chance the photo would never have seen the light of day again.

You have photos like this - you probably just don't realise it! Perhaps you've inherited them and don't know what to do with them, or you took them, and you've just never quite got round to labelling them. Well, this is your opportunity to help preserve these priceless visual milestones in our nation's local history, and make them available for researchers and the plain old curious.

We're not worried about artistic merit, just the images, a title, some background info, and the ability to locate them on a Google map - do that, and perhaps you can help one of our thousands of visitors find out about the places that are important to them!

Sign up for free; either create a new account, or sign in with your Facebook ID - just follow the link at the top of any page...

Where Do You Think You're From?

By admin, 2017-01-24
Where Do You Think You're From?

What's all this about? Well, this project, named Our Town Story, aims to become a people's archive and local history resource. Members can post photographs, memories, resource and event information for their local area or town - each town and village in the UK has its own profile page ready-made. You can see what a 'populated' town profile looks like here

As an archive of people's own photographs and memories (rather than the ones that made the local history books), we hope the site will appeal to local historians, family historians, schools and students, as well as members of the public reminiscing - a kind of Where Do You Think You're From? , rather than Who Do You Think You Are?

We intend to operate on a not-for-profit principle. One day, we'd like to be able to provide large-format copies of photographs posted on the site to care homes, as well as buying other items which could be used in reminiscence therapy for dementia sufferers and which can be expensive to acquire otherwise. This could also help residents feel more at home when they move to this type of accommodation. We may also develop an app to further develop this integration.

It's an entirely spare-time enterprise at the moment with no budget other than what we pay for ourselves, but we believe it could be a go-to resource for the whole country with a real social benefit.

Curious? Sign up, dig out your old pictures, and share them for the benefit of the community! :)

Our Town Story: First Principles

By admin, 2016-05-16

As it's a while since we've done an update, and we've had a  lot   of new members since then, here's a quick guide to the fundamental principles of Our Town Story...

Almost every item on Our Town Story is 'geotagged' - pinned to a specific location -  whether it's a photo, YouTube video or event. That means that when a user wants to search for one of those resources belonging to a place, they you can find it easily. 

The town's profile page will pull in all the images/videos/events within a certain radius around that place. Therefore, if you don't geotag* your items, they will never show up, and other users will never see them.

So, always remember to geotag your items when you add titles/descriptions, etc.

It's that simple!

You can geotag your items, by going to your gallery (from your own profile page), tapping/clicking on the photo/video in question, and then changing it's settings by tapping or clicking on the 'cog' icon above it. It's dead can see the 'edit' cog in this picture.... :) 


Updated Terms & Conditions

By admin, 2015-08-25

As we hope you know, we want it to be clear that you will always own the rights to the material you contribute to Our Town Story. Following an observation by a user, we've clarified some of the language in the Terms & Conditions. 

T's & C's are inherently complicated, and the difficulty for us is retaining the copyright to the bits of the website we  do own, whilst leaving you with yours. The following paragraph has been added for clarity in Section 3:

"(c) where non-public domain material is contributed to the site by members or users, unless otherwise stated by that contributor, copyright should be assumed to belong exclusively to the contributor and that contributor shall be treated as the copyright holder subject to the normal provisions of copyright law and the licensing provisions in Section 9."

Section 9 outlines the fact that you only grant Our Town Story a licence to actually display your contributions on the website itself (otherwise we wouldn't have a website!). This is really important to us  - click here to find out why other websites may not be so honest with your personal images...

If you have any issues with this change, please let us know below; whilst we can't infinitely adapt the Terms & Conditions, we do want them to be credible and as clear as possible.

What photos are we after exactly?

By admin, 2015-04-27
What photos are we after exactly?

You've probably noticed that we've started adding lots of different images to the site (we call it 'seeding') - these are images that are in the public domain, but are really way more 'mainstream' than is the point of Our Town Story. We're doing that to test the underlying functionality of the site, and make sure all the galleries and mapping functions work properly.

We hope that people will share the pictures that perhaps they might think are a bit more run of the mill, but in fact might well be the ones that people are most interested in.

They could be general shots of the street where you grew up - maybe during big events like jubilee street parties or the coronation, or just ones you took when testing a new camera! They might be pictures of the railway before it closed, or a big local event - essentially the pictures that wouldn't otherwise see the light of day.

Every picture has comments enabled, so you can offer your thoughts on images you remember - you or your family and friends might even be in some of them...

So have a dig about, see what you can find, and share them with Our Town Story, to help tell your town's story!

100 volunteers needed!

By admin, 2015-04-20
100 volunteers needed!

 Welcome to Our Town Story!

There are thousands of images of the towns, villages and cities of the UK that will never see the light of day in the nation's history books. Photos of carnivals, May Day parades, high streets, factories, sports teams and more.

They could be lurking in your loft, garage, workplace or photo albums, and together they recount the social history of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

Our Town Story is a place for those images and their stories to see the light of day, for people to add their own reminscences and recollections, and fill in the gaps in our collective memory.

Join now to share your pictures and tell your stories - or just to look back to the way things were - with a forum and a gallery for over 43,000 locations in the UK, you're bound to find your places, and those of your parents, grandparents and more!

Annual membership will be just £19.99 - a quarter that of Ancestry's - and as a not-for-profit community interest company, Our Town Story will help to use these images for everybody's benefit, including the development of systems to assist in reminiscence therapy for those coping with dementia-related illnesses such as Alzheimer's.


The first 100 users to register will receive free lifetime membership in return for helping us to test our systems and layouts and contributing bug reports, etc. You will need to have relevant images that you have the right to post (ie they're yours!).

To qualify, please use the 'Create Account' link in the top right hand corner. Entry is operated on a strictly first come, first served basis.

There are currently 50+ opportunities remaining!


Why are you doing this? Don't people do this already?

The short answer is, yes, there are some places on the internet where people share old pictures of places in the UK, so it's reasonable to ask why we're doing this.

There's two reasons, really. Firstly, the most popular place for people's old pictures is Facebook. When you upload an image to Facebook - any image - you grant Facebook a worldwide, irrevocable licence to that image, which they can use how they choose . Maybe you and your kids have already been in an advert in Andalucia, or a magazine in Monterey. You'll probably never know.

You grant the same licence to most online photo sites - Twitter, Instagram, local newpapers, etc. - (others may sell your images, republish them in other media, or just happily sell advertising on them) but we don't think that's a very appropriate attitude to your personal memories.

Instead, having established ourselves as a community interest company , we will use any surpluses generated through subscriptions to find ways that the images can be used for the public good. We are particularly keen to see the images used in the reminiscence therapy used to work with dementia sufferers - in particular, Alzheimer's Disease. This may include the development of a specific app for carers, or tablet computers for them to work with.

The second reason we're doing this is for there to be one place to go to to look for old local images and stories. People are proud of their places - they know they're from Edgbaston, not Birmingham, for example - and we wanted every place in the UK & NI to have a home on Our Town Story. 

As generations come and go, and with the pace of redevelopment ever increasing, the backgrounds behind the photos we have will be lost for good, unless we take the opportunity now to tell our towns' stories. Hopefully, we can do it for everyone's benefit.

Oh - and our licence? You grant us a licence to display your images on our website. And that's it. If anyone (us included) wants to do someting else with it, they'll have to let you know.

Following and Followers

By admin, 2015-03-03

To help you stay intouch with the places and people you need to on Our Town Story, we have follower/following system in place.

When you visit the profile belonging to a place, county/local authority or another Our Town Story user, you will see a button labelled 'Follow' to the right of their name. Clicking this makes it easier to stay in touch with the activity in that profile. It will appear in the timeline on your profile page.

It also makes it easy to mark your 'favourite' places - just follow the towns or villages you're most interested in, and then by clicking 'Profiles You Follow' under your user name at the top of any page, you'll be able to go straight to an index of your favourite places and people.

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