Reach aims to document more inclusive history with free picture archive Memory Lane

Tool contains publisher’s image libraries while encouraging public to upload their own photographs.

Memory Lane: launched by Reach's innovations arm
Memory Lane: launched by Reach's innovations arm

Reach’s innovations division, Reach Labs, has unveiled a free picture archive called Memory Lane, as it seeks to build a more inclusive understanding of UK history.

Memory Lane features an array of images throughout history from the archives of the Mirror and Express publisher, including photographs of Remembrance Sunday, the Windrush generation and the NHS.

The tool, which uses open-source artificial intelligence, also allows the public to upload images that matter to them so that they can play their part in history. Memory Lane colourises photographs for free.

Reach aims to create an archive that is “rich, interactive and nostalgic” and will enable users to search content by location, date, topic and other categories. The tool was already available to users of Reach's local news division, InYourArea, but was on a smaller scale and only allowed users to search from within their postcode.

Supporting the launch of Memory Lane is a campaign fronted by broadcaster and historian Kate Williams, who highlights that existing archives “don’t have the whole picture” and encourages the public to share images to show “the people and the places that don’t always make the history books”.

The work was created by My Perfect Cousin and Reach.

Furthermore, as part of the roll-out, Reach commissioned a nostalgia survey carried out by YouGov that found 80% of Brits have not digitalised all of their photographs. Meanwhile, 67% are looking for something that brings them comfort in the current climate and 33% are looking at old pictures during this period.

Maureen McDonagh, chief customer officer at Reach, said: “Memory Lane is just one of the exciting ways we will be deepening our relationship with our customers through things they cherish and love.”

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