We have recently put online a collection of over 500 historic photographs taken between 1891 and 1919 by the architectural photographers Bedford Lemere & Co.
Founded in the late 1860s, Bedford Lemere and Co are considered as the most productive architectural photographers of their age and they remain to this day a key source for images of the built environment in England from 1870 to after World War II. The photographs in the NMM collection are all large format 12 x 10 inch glass plate negative purchased from the National Monument Record in 1961.
We’re very excited as the Bedford Lemere photographs are the first of our extensive historic photograph collection to go live. They mainly show the interiors and exteriors of passenger liners but a small number captured the various stages of their construction at Clydebank shipyard in Scotland.
The photos are beautiful and visually striking. They are also particularly evocative and they vividly recapture the splendour of the golden age of ocean liners.
Rich and prestigious passengers would have enjoyed dinners in lavishly decorated dining rooms inspired by English or French aristocratic mansions, they would have had access to gyms and indoors swimming pools, and would have enjoyed their cigars surrounded by copies of famous Old Masters. But beyond the luxury of first class interiors, the photographs also show the rudimentary simplicity of lower class accommodations.
This new online addition will no doubt be a useful resource for maritime historians but we are also hoping that it will be of interest to researchers working across other disciplines such as the history of photography, design and architecture.
Barbara (Digital Collections Coordinator)
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