Last Friday we joined our University of the Third Age (U3A) Shared Learning Project (SLP) volunteers at The Farrington Inn for a lunch.

The U3A have been helping our team at Downside for well over a year in digitising the vast photographic archives held in the Abbey. The U3A have digitised and catalogued over 10,000 items, some of which date to 1857, which will be accessible to the public via our online catalogue in the near future. The U3A have a large national network and have several local organisations in Somerset.

For many years the photographic archives at Downside have been largely neglected; the U3A have brought the collections to life learning new skills in cataloguing and digitisation supplied by our small heritage team here at Downside. The collective knowledge of Downside that the U3A have gained and shared over the year has been of immense value thanks to the rich collaboration between the volunteers, the Monastic Community and our own staff. There is still much to do, however we would like to thank our friends in the U3A for their continued dedication and fellowship over the year.

The photo archive will be available online at the completion of the project in the Summer of 2019.

The U3A can be followed on Twitter by clicking here.

Further information about the U3A, what they do and how to join can be accessed here.

Below is a small sample of the images scanned by the U3A.