Historical collection of 8,000 photos found dumped in a skip has been digitized

Black and white photo of Arthur Cooper
A group of people with cameras, probably members of the press, standing on the tower of the Ruined Cathedral Church of St Michael including Arthur Cooper wearing glasses (Image credit: Getty Images)

More than 8,000 photos taken by UK photographer Arthur Cooper have been rescued from a skip, digitized and shared online by Coventry University. A group of volunteers has spent hours cataloging the images, trying to work out where they were taken and who is in them.

From 1940 - 1960, Arthur Cooper documented the UK city of  Coventry during and after the second world war, capturing the devastating effects of aerial bombings. Many of the photos in this incredible collection show bombed-out churches, marches and protests, as well as everyday life in a central English city.

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The collection was found in a skip on a street in Coventry almost a decade ago and thanks to the Coventry Digital initiative, these historically significant images are finally getting the attention they deserve. The archive was found with no additional information, so project director Dr. Ben Kyneswood has asked local community groups, churches and organizations to help uncover the mystery of the images. 

In the original story posted on BBC News West Midlands (opens in new tab), Martin Williams, the chairman of the Friends of Coventry Cathedral Group said, “As soon as I opened the files I thought, ‘this is just marvelous'. It was when I saw early historic photos that I’d never seen before I got very excited.”

Arthur Cooper worked as a press photographer in Coventry for 25 years, during which time his photos were published by Midland Daily News and Coventry Evening Telegraph. His collection of glass negatives was found after his death and MirrorPix rescued, cleaned and digitized them all. 

With such a huge number of images to sort through, Dr. Ben Kyneswood has invited anyone interested in helping to get in touch. If you lived in Coventry during this time or know someone who might be interested, access to the full gallery can be requested here (opens in new tab).

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.