A NEW project inspired by the archive of one of Hereford's best-known photographers will explore the social history of the county.

Herefordshire Life Through a Lens is a three-year project led by Catcher Media in collaboration with Herefordshire Council's Libraries, Archive and Learning and Achievement Services.

It is a three-year film, exhibition and oral history project about the social history of Herefordshire, inspired by the photographic archive of the Derek Evans studio from the 1950s to the 1980s.

The first part of the project explores the history of hop picking in the county, with a film on the topic to be premiered at Borderlines in March next year.

It is being produced by Catcher Media, the same organisation that made Chewing the Cud: Memories from Hereford's Old Livestock Market, in collaboration with Herefordshire Council's Libraries, Archive and Learning and Achievement Services.

Julia Goldsmith, co-director of Catcher Media, and Marsha O'Mahony, an oral historian working on the project, said: "We have been doing a lot of interviewing, going round and talking to a lot of people about hops and hop picking.

"There were people from South Wales who used to come up and pick and people from the Romany community as well as local pickers."

Volunteers are working to digitise some of the 200,000 negative photographs produced by Mr Evans, who had studios in Edgar Street and Broad Street in Hereford. He died in 2009.

"He was seen to have known everybody – he was just one of those old-fashioned hacks," said Marsha.

"The project really is about the social history of Herefordshire. For example hops, that industry, of picking at least, has gone.

"It's on the up again and there are about 25 hop farms in Herefordshire now but at its height there would have been several hundred. Every farm would have grown hops.

"Everyone goes misty-eyed when you talk about it. The film is re-acknowledging this legacy that was already here but we have forgotten about and the role that hop picking played in the county.

"It's been pretty wonderful and nostalgic and there's a sense that memories are being recorded. I think that's important to a lot of people and this project is doing that.

"He documented that snapshot of Herefordshire's social history extensively."

Mr Evans' photographic archive also includes many photographs of Hereford's May Fair, Hereford United Football Club and the Fownhope Heart of Oak Walk.

Herefordshire History are project partners and the images will be made available on their website.

The next branch of the three-year project will be more of an overview of the archive.

Visit herefordshirelifethroughalens.org.uk and the project Facebook page Herefordshire Life Through a Lens for more information.