British Culture Archive

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British Culture Archive
Type of site
Documentary photography
HeadquartersManchester, UK
Country of originUK
Founder(s)Paul Wright

The British Culture Archive is a non-profit organisation and platform for British documentary photography based in Manchester. Its website, community workshops and exhibitions[1] show 20th-century working class history and popular culture. In 2021 the organisation set up BCA21 which highlights 21st Century documentary photography. It has exhibited in London, Manchester and Berlin. Its People's Archive offshoot crowdsources images of everyday life in Britain from the 1930s to 2000.


The British Culture Archive was founded by Paul Wright[2][3] in 2017 as a website.[4][5] It was established to document and highlight the changes in 20th-century British culture, and society through social and documentary photography. Its focus is on documenting everyday life, in particular working class history and British counterculture and fashions of the 20th century.

The British Culture Archive encompasses the work of established photographers, such as Tish Murtha, Kevin Cummins and Peter Mitchell, and that of others whose work documents social change in British society but has not been widely seen. An example of the latter is Heidi Alexander's photographs of Stockport.[6]


  • British Culture Archive, The Social, London, November 2019 – January 2020. With work by Tish Murtha, Rob Bremner and Richard Davis.[7]
  • The People's City, The Refuge, Manchester, January–September 2020. With work by Peter J Walsh, Rob Bremner and Richard Davis.[8][9]
  • British Shorts, Sputnik Kino, Kreuzberg, Berlin, January 2020 – January 2021. With work by Tish Murtha, Rob Bremner and Richard Davis.[10][11]
  • Use Hearing Protection: the early years of factory records, The Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester. June 2021 - January 2022. With work from Red Saunders, Thomas Blower, Luis Bustamante and The People's Archive.[12][13]
  • A Woman's Work, The Refuge, Manchester, March – June 2022. With work by Tish Murtha and Anne Worthington.[14][15]
  • Together As One, The Refuge, Manchester, July - September 2022. With Work from Peter J Walsh and Jon Shard.[16][17] [18]
  • A Celebration Of Life In The North, 1970s-80s, Bury Art Museum, February - May, 2023. With Work from Luis Bustamante, Don Tonge and Thomas Blower.[19]

The People's Archive[edit]

The British Culture Archive crowdfunded its People's Archive offshoot.[5] This was established in 2017 for crowdsourced images of everyday life in Britain from the 1930s to 2000 and the rapid rise of smartphones and social media. The British Culture Archive intends to house this archive alongside exhibitions in its permanent space, set to open in 2023.


  1. ^ "British Culture Archive: The exhibition showing family photos". BBC News. 2019-11-03. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  2. ^ Dazed (2022-06-24). "Lost archive photos from Glastonbury festival". Dazed. Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  3. ^ "Interview: Paul Wright of the British Culture Archive". Oi Polloi. Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  4. ^ Wilkinson, Damon (2019-11-17). "The fascinating photos that capture Manchester in the 70s, 80 and 90s". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  5. ^ a b "Perms, punks and BMX stunts: The People's Archive's snapshots of the UK". The Guardian. 2019-11-19. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  6. ^ Stone, Mee-Lai (2021-01-21). "Bra stalls and cow's udder: The long-lost world of Stockport market – in pictures". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  7. ^ Campbell, Sheena. "British Culture Archive on display | Spectrum Photographic". Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  8. ^ "The changing face of British culture, in photos". Huck Magazine. 2020-01-30. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  9. ^ Maidment, Adam (2020-01-27). "Hulme and Manchester's rave scene remembered in new exhibition". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  10. ^ Stosiek, Sputnik Kino | Andrea (2021-01-26). "Sputnik Kino – Berlins höchstes Programmkino". (in German). Retrieved 2021-01-26.
  11. ^ britishculturearchive. "British Shorts Film Festival". British Culture Archive. Retrieved 2021-01-27.
  12. ^ "Use Hearing Protection: The early years of Factory Records". Visit Manchester. Retrieved 2021-06-20.
  13. ^ "Use Hearing Protection: The early years of Factory Records". Art Fund. Retrieved 2021-06-20.
  14. ^ Williams, Megan (2022-03-08). "A Woman's Work spotlights female documentary photographers". Creative Review. Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  15. ^ "British Culture Archive to present 'A Woman's Work' exhibition". Amateur Photographer. 2022-02-25. Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  16. ^ Gosling, Emily (2022-08-01). "A photographic celebration of Manchester's LGBTQ+ community". Creative Review. Retrieved 2023-01-24.
  17. ^ Maidment, Adam (2022-07-14). "Manchester's 'loud, happy and vibrant' LGBT+ community celebrated in new exhibit". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  18. ^ "Manchester's LGBTQ history: Photos showcase 'iconic moments'". BBC News. 2022-07-28. Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  19. ^ "Extraordinary images at Bury art exhibition celebrates growing up in 70s and 80s". Bury Times. Retrieved 2023-02-08.

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