From Paper to Pixels

The Plans Go Digital!

(See example plans of historic ships now in our Vessels gallery)

Technically speaking, most of the general arrangement plans in our Cook, Welton & Gemmell archive are actually made from tracing cloth rather than paper, but hopefully you get the idea – our volunteers have succeeded in converting original hard copies into accessible digital images; a sample of which is now available on our Vessels gallery.

With the original ships plans being preserved in our strongrooms here at East Riding Archives , viewing them can be difficult if you can’t easily make a visit to the Treasure House in Beverley.  Now that some of those plans have been digitised by our volunteers, (thanks to the new high quality camera equipment paid for by the National Lottery Heritage Fund ), accessing and getting the copy you want will be so much easier.

“…the volunteers have smashed our target, with 131 fully digitised plans (and still counting).”

DDCO-5-1-648-1 'Foremost 93'
‘Foremost 93’ Steam Tug (Yard 648) Launched 12.09.1938 (Copyright: East Riding Archives)

The achievement of the volunteers is nothing short of remarkable.  Under our Conservator Kat Saunt’s guidance and supervision, the volunteers (some of whom had never used photo-editing software before) took on the enormous technical challenge of stitching together complex engineering drawings (sometimes up to 9 separate sections) to make a whole digital image.  The challenge was so difficult that we admit to having had initial doubts about whether this task was too much to handle and, with a target of producing 100 plan images, we certainly had our work cut out.  However, we were quickly proved emphatically wrong, and the volunteers have smashed our target with 131 fully digitised plans (and still counting).

“…they were hand-drawn, and hand-traced, with obviously no computer aided design…”

Kat will tell us more in due course about the work that’s been going on behind the scenes but, for now, why not have a trawl through our Vessels gallery of historic ships and admire the technical brilliance of these plans.

DDCO-5-1-912-1 steel lightship
(Inverted) ‘Burcom Sand’ Twin Grab Hopper Dredger (Yard 875) Launched 20.04.1954 (Copyright: East Riding Archives)

It’s worth pointing out that they were hand-drawn, and hand-traced, with obviously no computer aided design, but thanks to digital technology we can and have manipulated the original, and inverted each image in order to give a more contrasting view and bring out the technical details.

With special thanks to our volunteers:

Chris Wood,  Kris Dunham,  Claire Day,  Sam Kneeshaw,  Phil Pick,  Lesley Coupland,  Vicky Calvert,  Naomi Peach,  Gary Saunt,  Judy James,  Victoria Broughton,

and of course, Kat Saunt (Conservator).

Thanks also to volunteers Martyn Mawson and Kathryn Knight for supplying details about each vessel.

All of the copies in our Vessels gallery will now be added to the Digital Archive for permanent preservation.

Sam Bartle:  Digital Archivist, and Project Co-ordinator

(East Riding Archives)


2 thoughts on “From Paper to Pixels

  1. Hi,
    Is the work on digitising ship plans complete yet? In particular, do you have any hull lines available for any of the trawler GAs that have already been digitised? Many thanks for your time.


    1. Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your message. Many of the GAs are now digitised, and it’s hoped that these will eventually be uploaded to our digital archive online. However, it’s still possible to order copies via . As regards the lines drawings, these are only digitised on case-by-case basis, at cost, so again you would need to email us with your requirements. Hope this helps.
      Best wishes.


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