• Reference
  • Title
    Fill the Gap Greensand Country Photograph Project
  • Date free text
  • Production date
    From: 2000 To: 2021
  • Admin/biog history
    The Greensand Country Landscape Partnership began in January 2013, as a National Lottery Heritage Funded Programme to deliver more than 40 projects, helping to raise awareness of the heritage value of the landscape and to reverse the gradual decline in the distinct landscape character of an area of Bedfordshire along and beside the Greensand Ridge from Leighton Buzzard to Gamlingay. Led by The Greensand Trust and Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity, the vision was for Greensand Country to be a living and working landscape. Throughout the programme a number of major milestones were achieved, from creating new walking, cycling and horse riding routes, to rebuilding sandstone structures, training apprentices in heritage and landscape skills and a Greensand Country Festival. From the beginning the landscape partnership engaged with Bedfordshire Archives with regard to the heritage aspects of some of its projects and in 2019 Bedfordshire Archives bid for funding to run a project of its own. The Fill the Gap project asked volunteers to take and submit to the archives record quality photographs of the Greensand area. Since the closure of the County Council photographic unit in the late 1990s and the move to digital of commercial photographers the archives service had received almost no quality images recording aspects of life and landscape in the county leaving a significant gap in the resources available to future researchers. The application for funding was successful and recruitment of volunteers began in January 2020. The first workshop was held at Greensand Trust centre at Maulden Wood in February 2020. At this workshop the county archivist introduced the archives service to the participants and explained what makes a good record quality photograph suitable for the archives including the importance of metadata. Participants then discussed the practicalities of specification for the photographs, how the area would be divided between them and permission forms. Participants then had a month to take photographs before the 2nd workshop in March at which they discussed whether they were on the right track to fulfil the brief and how the end of the project would be celebrated with exhibitions during the May 2020 Greensand Country Festival. The week after the 2nd workshop England was hit by the global pandemic of Covid-19 and the country entered a 12 week lockdown where everyone was instructed to stay at home. The 3rd workshop and the Greensand Festival were cancelled. Although restrictions were slightly lifted during the summer and autumn of 2020 it was still not possible to continue the project as originally planned. A second round of recruiting volunteers and workshops planned for autumn 2020 was unable to go ahead as the country entered a 2nd then 3rd lockdown in November 2020 and December-April 2021 respectively. In spite of the difficulties of 2020-21 several of the participants were able to submit photographs to the project in early 2021 and a selection of these photographs was made into a virtual exhibition to coincide with the Greensand Festival in May 2021. Participants were encouraged to continue to submit photographs to the archives service after the project formally ended and to encourage others to consider submitting to the archives in the future.
  • Scope and Content
    Although the aim of the project was to take new record quality photographs of the Greensand Country the project participants were encouraged to consider submitting photographs that they might already have that met the project brief. This became particularly important as, due to the global pandemic in 2020, the photographers were unable to go out to take new photographs as had been planned. One particular photographer submitted a selection of photographs that he had taken in 2000 and, where possible, submitted the same view taken in 2020. This highlighted the need for the project as in some areas there were significant differences between the views taken twenty years apart. The pandemic restrictions meant that the subjects matter of the photographs was more limited than had been hoped at the beginning of the project and participants were encouraged to continue to take and submit photographs to the archives after the project had formally ended once restrictions lifted.
  • Level of description