The collection is the work of the commercial firm Millar and Harris, specialising in architectural photography, which closed in 1981. Comprising some 51,300 negatives and 33,500 corresponding file prints (some colour images), the collection is a commercial record whose purpose varied with the requirements of an extensive client base. Clients include construction companies (often continuous progress shots of major construction projects), architects (including many involved in contemporary modern architecture), industrial engineers (mainly those providing industrial installations in commercial properties), estate agents (generally those specialising in country houses, country estates and large houses in London), interior designers (work of contemporary designers, especially in the 1930s), retail businesses (a range of shops, including Harrods (mainly interiors) and John Lewis Partnership) and images commissioned for the Festival of Britain. The company had two major clients in Knight Frank and Rutley and Mowlem whose work was stored, indexed and managed separately from the others.
The collection was sold to the NMR in 1991 on the closure of the business. It was arranged by client, with larger clients such as Knight Frank and Rutley and Mowlem treated as discrete groups. Colour negatives and transparencies were also stored separately. An extensive card index provided access by client and job. The original number schemes were unique within the principal client groupings, but with considerable overlap (duplication) of numbers between groups.
Between 1991 and 1993 most of the collection was rehoused in archival enclosures by the Collections Management Unit of the NMR. Each negative sleeve was annotated with location, client and date details as well as its original Millar and Harris reference number taken from the index cards; the job cards were also annotated with the number of prints for the job and which, if any, of the negatives for that job were missing.
Item level cataloguing began on 14th July 2004. The principal client-based structure was retained at series level, treating the smaller clients as a single group. In order to maintain simplicity and uniqueness of numbering scheme, the whole collection was re-numbered with EH negative numbers, retaining the original system as alternative identifiers. Details of the archival structure and methodology are detailed in a cataloguing statement for the project.
However, cataloguing was suspended in September 2006 in order to prioritise the cataloguing of the John Gay Collection. At this point three parts of the collection had been fully catalogued at item level: 1. Photographs taken for Knight, Frank and Rutley; 2. Photographs taken for Mowlem; 3. Colour transparencies.
Cataloguing was underway on the largest component of the collection when cataloguing ceased. This was 'Photographs taken for clients other than Knight, Frank and Rutley and Mowlem', aka Small Clients, for which 18772 negatives taken from the 1930s to the late 1950s to early 1960s have been catalogued.
This Collection contains the following materials:
© Historic England Archive
© Knight Frank Limited
© Mowlem plc
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