Black and white archive photograph of a busy street scene.

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George Street, Plymouth 1893. The collection contains a number of street scenes, often recording urban vistas lost in later redevelopments. One example is this photograph which shows a busy George Street in Plymouth on 5th July 1893. This area of the city was largely destroyed during the Plymouth Blitz of 1941, although the Neo-Classical Theatre Royal, on the right of the frame, had already been demolished and replaced with a cinema in the 1930s. Today, only the clock tower and former Lloyd’s Bank building, now The Bank public house, survive. Historic England Archive CC76/00446

London Midland and Scottish Railway Collection

Comprising over 1,600 glass plate negatives from the archive of the London Midland and Scottish railway, this collection has now been conserved, digitised and catalogued and the images are available to view on the Historic England Archive website.

The London Midland and Scottish Railway Ltd was formed in 1923 as a result of the 1921 Railways Act which saw the grouping of 115 railway companies into just four. Emerging as the largest of these four, by 1938 LMS reportedly operated almost 7,000 miles of railway line, running through 32 of the 40 English counties. The company had interests all over the country and, at one time, was considered the largest joint stock company in the world. With the 1947 Transport Act the railways were nationalised and the LMS became part of British Railways.

Dating from the 1880s through to the 1930s, the photographs in our collection were taken for advertising and marketing purposes by both the LMS and its constituent companies. They showcase the towns, cities and countryside served by their railways and range from interior views of railway depots in Liverpool to panoramic shots of the Derbyshire Dales; from busy street scenes in Manchester to golf courses in Somerset; and from grand cathedrals to ramshackle thatched cottages.

Black and white archive photograph of a woman in a cloak standing on a snow-covered spit of land between two streams, with a church in the background.
Miller’s Dale, Derbyshire c1890. This atmospheric shot captures a particularly frosty day in the hamlet of Miller’s Dale. The Miller’s Dale railway station, which was unusually large given the size of the settlement, was opened by Midland Railway in 1863 and served as an important junction for passengers heading to Buxton from London or Manchester. The station closed in 1967 but the two railway viaducts that carried the line over the River Wye remain. Historic England Archive DD76/00040
Black and white archive photograph of a building under construction, encased in scaffolding, with workmen in the street outside.
Midland Adelphi, Liverpool, 12 June 1911. This photograph shows the Hotel under construction. The building, designed by Frank Atkinson, was to be the third hotel to occupy the site, previous versions having been constructed in 1876 and 1826. In 1892 the hotel had been purchased by the Midland Railway, who were looking for a hotel close to their Liverpool terminus, and had been renamed the Midland Adelphi. Railway hotels, like the Adelphi, had become increasingly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as railway companies saw the business potential in offering convenient and comfortable overnight accommodation for their passengers. At its height LMS operated nearly 30 railway hotels across the country, serving an estimated 50 million customers annually. The new Adelphi hotel was completed in 1914 and was regarded as one of the most luxurious hotels in the country. Historic England Archive CC78/00201
Black and white historic photograph of an elderly woman in the porch of a small cottage.
Lower Lodge at Bifrons in Patrixbourne, Kent 6 July 1909. It is not only busy street scenes and grand public buildings which were captured by the railway photographers. Here an elderly woman sits in the porch of the Lower Lodge on the Bifrons Estate in Kent. A good example of a 19th century cottage orné, the lodge still stands, although the main house was demolished in 1948. Historic England Archive CC76/00487
Archive black and white photograph of workmen in a barrel vaulted store-room.
Salford Goods Station, Salford, 1927. Whilst trains do not make much of an appearance in the collection, depots and warehouses at goods stations served by the LMS railway do – perhaps unsurprisingly as an estimated 60% of the company’s revenue came from goods services! Here an employee is photographed moving a ceramic toilet in the Rowson, Drew and Clydesdale depot at Salford Goods Station. Other depots featured in the collection include those of Hartley’s, Mcdougalls, Rowntrees, Lever Brothers, Heinz and Triang. Historic England Archive CC80/00093
Black and white archive photograph of a man and woman on a path leading to a ruined castle.
Scarborough Castle, North Yorkshire. This photograph was taken on 22 September 1897 and captures a man and woman stopping to chat as they pass on the nearby lane. It is not often that we are able to date photographs of this age so specifically but a detailed register is available for this collection. This records information such as the size and date of the negative, as well as what it shows. In some cases the department which commissioned the photograph is also noted. Whilst a full entry is not available for every negative, the register is an invaluable resource when researching and cataloguing the images. Historic England Archive CC76/00637
Black and white archive photograph showing children in the sea playing with boats, with a beach, hotels and a pier in the background.
New Brighton, Wirral, 18 August 1933. Seaside scenes feature heavily in the collection, perhaps unsurprisingly, as many of the visitors would have relied on the railways to make their trip to the coast. The seafronts at Burnham-on-Sea, Bournemouth, Scarborough, Blackpool and Great Yarmouth are among those captured by the railways’ photographers, recording the changing face of the British seaside from the 1890s to the 1930s. New Brighton on the Wirral Peninsula is just one example of how the development of the railways transformed small working towns into bustling seaside resorts, in this instance for the people of Liverpool and the industrial towns of Lancashire. Historic England Archive CC80/00455
Black and white archive photograph of a golf course with golfers in play.
Burnham on Sea, Somerset, 26 June 1898. Catching a golfer mid-swing, this image of Burham and Berrow Golf Course was taken just seven years after the course opened. Given the geographic focus of the LMS railway, the southern counties tend to be underrepresented in the collection but Burnham-on-Sea is one of the exceptions, with thirty-seven photographs showcasing the town and its attractions. This is probably because Burnham-on-Sea railway station was a terminus of the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway, a line, which after 1923, was held jointly by the LMS and Southern railways. Historic England Archive CC025340
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