Skip to main content

Farmer Glass Plate Negatives

Prior to the use of photographic film as a capture medium, glass plates were used. To capture an image a light sensitive emulsion of silver salts was coated on a glass plate, which was then exposed to light.

As part of our photographic collections the Parliamentary Archives holds a small collection of glass plate negatives dating from 1895. The original images were taken for the publication 'Parliament, Past and Present - A popular picturesque account of a thousand years of the Palace of Westminster, the home of the Mother of Parliaments', written by Arnold Wright and Philip Smith. The negatives were later held by Edward J Farmer, Commercial and Technical Photographer, who reprinted the images from new negatives made from the old original glass negatives in his possession, and put together the collection as it appears now. Having purchased the collection from Farmer himself, the collection is referred to as Farmer's, despite not being the initial creator of these images.

Digitisation Project

At the start of 2017, the Imaging Team embarked on a new digitisation project which involved digitising our collection of glass plate negatives.

Despite Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin's Houses of Parliament being one of the most iconic buildings in the world. The Parliamentary Archives holds very little photographic collections documenting the history of the building. In fact, Farmer's glass plate negatives is only one of two major photographic collections we hold. The other of which is those taken by MP Benjamin Stone (HC/LB/1/111).

Having completed the digitisation of Stone's photographs last year, it seemed like a natural progression to digitise the Farmer glass plate negatives. Ensuring that both of our major photographic collections documenting the history of the building were readily available to researchers.

Imaging the negatives

Our Digital Imaging Technicians were responsible for the photography and quality assurance of the images. If you would like to read more about the digitisation process then do read our blog Negative and Positive - Digitising Glass Plate Negatives.

Accessing the old and new images

The digitised versions of the glass plate negatives will shortly be attached by our online catalogue.

Alternatively, please do visit our image gallery pages. where we have a selection of the glass plate negative shots.