Historic photograph collection catalogue

The collection comprises approximately 270,000 negatives, one million prints and 1463 albums, recording every sphere of maritime life. It includes images from the very beginnings of photography with Fox Talbot studio's hazy photograph of Brunel's iron screw-steamship Great Britain taken in 1844 to the present day.

A more-detailed list of the types of images within the collection is available on research guide J1.

Copies are available to the public of all photographs for which there is a negative or where copyright permission can be obtained. Please note a large proportion of the printed photographs in the collection are reference material that cannot be copied due to copyright restrictions.

Search the catalogue

How to use the catalogue

Note: the catalogue does not contain images to view. To find out more about the image or to obtain a print for your research, contact the Picture Library (see details below).

The negative number is listed on the left (usually with a prefix P, N or G) and must be quoted in full. All negatives are black and white, unless the number is has one of the following suffixes:

  • CT – colour transparency
  • CN – colour negative
  • BWT – black & white transparency

You can narrow your search using the following categories:

  • Warships
  • Merchant ships
  • Sailing vessels
  • Topographical (places)
  • People
  • Miscellaneous

A detailed description of the categories is available on the catalogue search page.

Ordering a print

The Museum's Picture Library can provide high-quality reproductions for your home, personal research or commercial publication. For details on how to order an image and the costs involved, see the Picture Library web pages.

For more information or help with finding an image, contact the Historic Photographs Section:
E-mail: plansandphotos@rmg.co.uk