Collection: John Laing Photographic Collection

1880s - 2000
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The John Laing Photographic Collection comprises approximately 213,600 items, including photographic prints, negatives and slides, and 206 albums, relating to building and civil engineering projects conducted by the John Laing group of companies throughout the 20th century. It also includes some material dating from the 1880s, showing projects and people related to the early history of the Laing family and company. In the main, the collection shows completed buildings and construction sites in progress, including road, rail and air transportation sites, power stations, industrial buildings, hospitals, schools and universities, shopping centres, places of worship, leisure centres, offices and housing. Photographs also show Laing employees working on site, people at company events and outings, celebrities and charitable events, a number of which were featured in the company’s monthly newsletter ‘Team Spirit’.

The collection was acquired by The English Heritage Archive in 2012. A pilot project funded by the John Laing Charitable Trust was carried out in 2013 to digitise and catalogue over 1,000 items. In 2019-2020, Historic England made a further 10,000 items available during the Breaking New Ground Project, in partnership with the John Laing Charitable Trust. The Breaking New Ground Project focussed on the themes of industry, infrastructure and innovation in post-war Britain. It made available 10,000 of the best images from the wider collection, showing projects undertaken by Laing across the country from the 1940s up to the year 2000. Within the scope of the project, material was selected to illustrate ten topics: Laing Spirit - People, Family and Community; Industry; Power and Supply; Transport and Infrastructure; Housing and Urban Development; Places of Worship; Leisure and Shopping; Education and Health; Offices; Environmental.

Images were selected to show some of the company’s major construction projects, including: Coventry Cathedral; London Central Mosque; Graythorp North Sea oil platforms; Patons and Baldwins Knitting Factory; Sizewell B Power Station; Coryton Oil Refinery; M1 & M6 Motorways; Second Severn Crossing; Filton Airport; Barbican Complex; Easiform Housing; Bull Ring Shopping Centre; Millennium Dome; Universities (including Nottingham, Southampton and Warwick); Hospitals (including Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, and St Thomas’s Hospital).

Other archives containing material relating to John Laing include Northamptonshire Record Office and the British Film Institute.

This material has not yet been fully catalogued. Date and quantity information for this record may be incomplete or inaccurate.

Archival History

The collection was acquired by the NMR in 2012. The remainder of the Laing Collection is available at Northamptonshire Record Office.


This Collection is divided into 21 Child Series