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The Andor Gomme Collection

Almost 2,200 photographs from the Andor Gomme Collection are now available. The catalogue records can be searched via the Historic England Archive website.

Austin Harvey Gomme (1930-2008), known as Andor, was Professor of English Literature and Architectural History at Keele University. He wrote a number of works on architectural history and from 1988-1991 was Chair of the Society of Architectural Historians.

archive black and white photograph of a gaslamp in a narrow alley
An old gas lamp beside weatherboarded buildings in a Braintree alleyway, Essex. Gomme was interested in the details in a streetscape; as well as street lights, he photographed telegraph poles, bus shelters, traffic bollards and road signs. Photographed by Andor Gomme in June 1957. © Historic England Archive GOM01/01/0457

During the 1950s Gomme travelled widely across the country recording the built environment. The photographs he took at that time, now held by the Historic England Archive, depict the towns and villages of England during a period of rapid change. This change was driven by a combination of factors; the after effects of the war, the growing importance of the motor car and a drive to modernise. The collection reflects this, providing a record of traditional market towns and modern urban centres.

archive black and white photograph of a hand-cart near a street corner.
A hand-cart parked on Elder Street, Spitalfields, London. The houses seen in the background are on Folgate Street and contain upper storey windows typically found in weavers’ workshops. Apart from the white house to the extreme left of shot, all of the houses shown here have been demolished. Georgian style terraces have replaced them. Photographed by Andor Gomme in 1957. © Historic England Archive GOM01/05/060/32

Gomme was also attracted to the ‘New Towns’ erected as part of the post-war reconstruction programme. Amongst other locations he visited Harlow, Basildon and Hatfield. Photographs illustrating the boom in local authority housing are a recurrent theme throughout the collection, with Gomme typically recording the traditional buildings in a town centre and the new council estates springing up on its outskirts.

Swindon 1957

When Gomme came to Swindon in March 1957 he recorded the ‘Old Town’ and the Victorian town centre. He also visited Walcot and Park South where he photographed the newly constructed Local Authority estates on the town’s eastern boundary.

archive black and white photograph of a quiet street scene
High Street, Old Town, Swindon, Wiltshire. With the exception of the former Town Hall tower, visible behind the Mason’s Arms, few of the buildings seen here remain today. Photographed by Andor Gomme in 1957. © Historic England Archive GOM01/05/029/23
archive black and white photograph of a suburban street under construction.
Council houses on Leighton Avenue in Park South, Swindon, Wiltshire. The spire of Christ Church in Old Town, is just visible on the horizon. Photographed by Andor Gomme in March 1957. © Historic England Archive GOM01/05/028/05

The records

Gomme mounted his photographs on card, arranged alphabetically by county and location. Many of the cards include annotated, hand-drawn maps indicating not only the spot from which each was taken, but also the direction in which the camera was pointing.

archive card with annotated map and contact prints of photographs
The sketch map Andor Gomme produced as a record of the photographs he took during his trip to Bradford-on-Avon in March 1958.

Andor Gomme Collection Photo Gallery

Please click on the gallery images to enlarge.

  • archive black and white photograph of shoppers, wheelbarrows and dustbins displayed on the pavement in front of shops
  • archive black and white photograph of a street scene with people and vehicles
  • archive black and white photograph of a busy street scene with people on the pavements
  • archive black and white photograph of a pavement with pedestrians
  • archive black and white photograph of a busy street scene with people and vehicles
  • archive black and white photograph of a double-bayed house on a street corner with a pedestrian crossing the road in the foreground
  • archive black and white photograph of a building with vehicles parked and a sign
  • archive black and white photograph of three gasholders with caravans in the foreground
  • archive black and white photograph of a busy street scene with people and vehicles
  • archive black and white photograph of street furniture including traffic bollards, no-entry sign and a streetlamp.
  • archive black and white photograph of a street scene with parked vehicles
  • archive black and white photograph of  a busy street scene with people and vehicles
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