HMRS Photograph Collection

Our photographic collection continues to grow through donations from members and collectors and also when we occasionally purchase special collections. It covers virtually all aspects of British railways from the birth of photography in the mid nineteenth century to the present day. There are over 50,000 photos listed in our on-line catalogue with thousands more awaiting cataloguing. Scanning and cataloguing is carried out by volunteers and newly catalogued collections are uploaded to the website as they are completed. Of necessity this is a slow process and will continue into the foreseeable future. Some have been donated from either gifted legacies or from the estates of people when their families do not want to keep the collection and we are always pleased to receive further donations from any era. We co-operate with other similar railway societies and some sharing of photos has taken place.

The collection contains black and white negatives, colour negatives, black and white and colour slides as well as some glass plates and both black and white prints and colour prints. Some of our later images were 'born digital' - i.e Camera images stored directly to computer. Many of these are originals but there are also copies made from collections loaned to us in the past. In some cases, there are copies of copies!

For example AAD409 is a black and white image of a Caledonian Railway locomotive shed scene of unknown but pre 1922 date with 4-6-0 & 4-4-0, nos 920, 582 891. Both the location and the date (though pre 1922) are unknown and the quality is not brilliant.

AAD409 Caledonian

In contrast AAD586: was taken around 1994, in colour, of a 32 arch viaduct at Chappel & Wakes, Colne, It was opened in 1849, 1000 feet long and 70 feet high

AAD586 Colne

Bearing in mind the age of some of the photographs, quality can vary from very good to very poor, but we feel that poor quality photos in the collections justify their inclusion in the catalogue due to their subject matter. For many photos we own the copyright, for others we have permission to produce copies for sale but do not own the publishing rights. Where we own the copyright photos may be used in publications on payment of a reproduction fee.

Some further examples of the range of the collection can be seen in the following

AAG820: Is of a coach at Parkside LNWR 7477 D:D315A. This is one of 4 built in 1917, carrying a Liverpool-Newcastle destination board and taken around 1924

AAG820 Parkside

AAU505: Is from 1960 and straight record of an oil tank wagon.  Regent Oil (W1) 22T tank No.375 as photographed at the works

AAU505 Tank Wagon


ABC606: Is from around 1950 and shows Harwich Pier with a track along the quay wall

ABC606 Harwich


ABZ727: LNER 2-8-2 locomotive P-2/1 2001 Cock O the North at Doncaster Works taken around 1935



AEB695: Shows the track bed and part of the platforms at Ellerby station after closure – taken 1968.

AEB965 Ellerby

AEH786: Glossop platform, 1984  with a view along the platform of  EMU M59402M

AEH706 Glossop


We don’t normally charge fellow societies for the use of our photos, an acknowledgement being all that’s required. We also have a working relationship with the National Railway Museum (NRM) and occasionally receive surplus photographic archive material from them. Members of the society help with cataloguing and digitising the National Railway Museum’s vast collection of photographs and with other heritage organisations. We have helped model railway manufacturers over the years with photos of models they wanted to produce.


Preserved railways can and do call upon us for help with photos and drawings when they are restoring old rolling stock. Our website has low resolution scans of many of our photos together with a brief description. This enables you to see what is on the photo before you purchase it. By clicking on the scan an enlarged image can be seen.  To protect our copyright a logo is imposed on the larger scan. The logo is of course not present if you purchase the image.

Digital Files of Photographs

We have introduced a new facility with this website and now a digital image of any of our photographs may be purchased. Please choose the digitial rather than the print option at checkout.  Some people prefer to receive the photograph as a scanned or original digital file which they can either use as a digital file or print themselves. Because of the large amount of storage required on the website to hold all our collection in this way we are unlikely to offer a direct download system. You can now choose the Digital File (as distinct from a printed copy of a digital scan). You will not incur any postage costs for the image (unless of course other items are on your order). When we fulfil the order we will email the file to you at the email address you used for the order. Since the relevant drawing or photograph has already been scanned you are likely to receive these files much quicker than any print sent by surface mail although we do not guarantee this as it still involves volunteer effort. These of course are still be subject to the Trading Terms and Conditions and are for private use only and not for re-use on any public website or publication without prior agreement from the society.


There of course many ways in which photographs are useful. For modellers of a specific vehicle or place at a particular time, a photograph is essential. Many people just like to collect photographs in a particular category. Some require illustrations for publications and historians and researchers like to consider what we can learn from the contrasts between various times and places as well as the engineering involved. The collection holds many examples which can be used for these purposes. These links show a little of that.


An example of modelling from a photograph and outline drawing to create a unique models is described here with a short piece about modelling the Midland Railway Gun Truck. A  100 ton Gun Truck from the first world war era

Alternatively research before modelling may involve comparing how something developed

Consideration of the various LNER types of wagon can be revealed through photographs as here LNER Vans webpage

On our previous website we had some banner images which cycled across the home page from various eras and also which conveyed something about our collections. You can view the images and the details here old website banner images

Why do people still take photographs today – isn’t the railway scene a mere shadow of it’s past glory – why bother? See what motivates one of our Trustees. Link to London Railway Station History