When did this journey begin?
As an old colleague of mine recounted being pulled over at the side of the road by the Police for a traffic census some years ago (you don’t see the census points these days). The Officer asked “Where did this journey begin?” my colleague answered, “West Ham Maternity Hosptial!” apparently the Policeman did not have a great sense of humour!
Someone asked me how we got started on this journey ending up in the scanning business? Considering I was originally an Electrical Engineer, it’s a strange journey. I was in at the very beginning of the computer age and feel lucky that I grew up with technology from the earliest days when the computers I worked on were programmable controllers. As I started on that part of my career I met a lady who was researching the family name and I got involved in genealogical research way back in the day before there were any personal computers, the internet was 10 – 15 years away then and we used to go to records offices to undertake family history. The nearest thing we had to a scanner was a photocopier. The paperwork involved filled a substantial chest and the card records were a major undertaking until I was able to transfer most of it to a database.
Perhaps 15 years ago I was beginning to use scanners to digitise family documents and photographs but found that the scanners were small and anything above A4 was difficult to work on. I purchased a larger scanner and was able to offer my services to digitise family history documents to start with. As time moved on, the need to document more things such as photographs and photo albums started to gain importance. The business grew up from humble beginnings scanning family history documents to the business as it is today. It is worrying how quickly photographs fade and how fragile they are and scanning them makes sense to protect them from further degradation and in the worse case complete destruction. We had to scan a number of pictures that had been left in a shoe box and some mice had got in. The damage was major and many pictures were totally destroyed, gnawed into tiny fragments. We rescued the remainder and saved them from further damage.
About 5 years ago we made a major investment in production computers, a website, scanners, printers and audio, video and cine transfer equipment so that we could have a professional setup and to retire some of the equipment that had passed their “sell by” date. Growing out of a family history background where over 40 years had been spent identifying circa 3,900 members of the wider family and documenting them back to the 16th Century provided for the experience to run the genealogy side of the business which is a small percentage of the day to day work. We’ve been involved in some really interesting work including War Diary research. The majority of our work is scanning and cine and video transfer. We get some audio work and this year had the great delight in transferring an audio history where the narrator had been involved in WW2 and escaped to the UK.
This is a most enjoyable business to be in as by its very nature you are helping to preserve things for people. Old tapes (both audio and visual), cine films, photographs, negatives, photo albums and all manner of memorabilia – we scan artworks, certificates, handwritten documents and many other things apart from photographic items. It is lovely to see the reaction when old photographs are enhanced and repaired.
So that’s where it all began.