Beckenham Photograph Library - Negatives & Finding Aids

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Wellcome Foundation Ltd
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Collection contents

About this work


The Beckenham Series was most closely related with Research & Development, and includes images of mould, experiments and tests, production of drugs, polio, penicillin, Diphtheria and Retrovir. There were also images of sites taken - predominately Beckenham but included sites other than Beckenham. There were also images taken for Foundation News of staff functions and social events - e.g. sports, football, retirements etc. Photographs were also commissioned by Coopers so there are some veterinary scientific images.

The negatives include glass negatives and transparencies, in colour and black and white, of various sizes up to 5x4 inches. All were numbered sequentially on the sleeve and were retained in reasonable order in card boxes. Therefore the negatives are ordered chronologically.


These can be found toward the end of the series. They are reasonably comprehensive and the Indices in particular should be used by researchers if interested in a particular subject area.

Photographs were 'commissioned' by departments or individuals and these details were entered, chronologically, in a register. There are 7 Registers, detailing reference number, date, individual, number of photographs and an indication of topic. Unfortuately the Registers are incomplete covering negs 117-12869 only.

As well as the registers there are 7 boxes of card indices. These were broken down by subject, for example 'Fungi' or 'People' and then arranged alphabetically. One image could have 3 or 4 index terms. Terms included as headings: Accidents & damage; Safety; Albums; Apparatus & Instruments; Berkhamsted; Bacterial Moulds & Colonies; Buildings; DMS. C.A.R.D.; Chemical Formulae; Composites; Chromatograms; Conferences and Meetings; Clinical cases; Copying Diagnostic Reagents; Drug Safety; Estate; Wellcome world magazine; Foundation News; Fluorescent; Fungi; Guinea pigs; Historical; Interferon; Kymograph/Trace; On loan-negs; Metabolic Pathways; Molecular structures; Occupational health centre; Passports and Portraits (photographs of people/staff arranged alphabetically); Portrait Groups; Pathology; Pharmacology; Photo-Micrography; Photographic Dept.; Posters; Quality Control; Retirements and Presentations; Sheep; Starch gels; Sports & Social Club; Titles; Training Centre; U/V Gels; Veterinary; Virus; Videos; Visits; Wellcome Sites UK and abroad; W.L.T.N.; X-Ray;

There is also a section of 'Historical Negatives' including subject headings: Anaerobic Building; Bio-chemical Science. Biochemistry; Cattle; Cytology; Digitalus; Entomology; Epivax; Ergot; Exploratory Research; Foetus; Frozen Sections; Headings; Letraset; Marivax Production; Measles; Mycology; Pirbright; Polio Unit; Poultry Vaccines; Stables; Ticks; Animals; Apparatus; Biochemistry; Botany; C.R.L. Epivax; Ergot; Estate; Mansion; Groups; Penicillin; Photographic Dept; Polio; Portraits; Precision Engineers; Physiology Lab; Production; Serum Concentrat Lab; T.B. Unit; Toxin Laboratory; Stables; Vaccines; Veterinary Laboratory; Virus Department; Yellow Fever.

The majority of the early negatives date from the 1950's.

'C' preceding a number indicates that it is a colour image, no 'C' indicates black and white.

The Series does not cover Dartford which had its own photography under the Advertising / PR Department in the early period. Laurie Hole joined in 1971, most of the photography had been science based, but Hole had an advertising background so some different material came in. From c1960s/1970s Beckenham carried out the photography for Dartford and the other sites, with the negs held at Beckenham. 1996 the D negs were extracted from the main series and sent to Dartford. (about 6 drawers at 300 per drawer) Also some historic copy negs (c1890)

When the Berkhamsted site was sold off, the negatives for entomology went with the sale. There are some site photos in the Beckenham series.

A set of the most frequently used images from this series was maintained in the form of photographic prints, arranged by subject. These are catalogued as WF/M/I/BP.



Physical description

99 boxes

Copyright note

Copyright assigned to the Wellcome Trust

Finding aids

Generally good. There is a card index which gives details in numeric order. There is also a card index by main subject or person, (some negs are indexed in more than one way). There are also subdivisions, for example People/Passport photographs, or Vaccines. The Index should be used by researchers in the first instance as it is surprisingly comprehensive. There are also a number of registers which indicate which photographs were taken for which member of staff, this may prove useful for some of the technical photographs. Unfortunately the set is not complete and the registers were filled out to varying degrees.

Ownership note

The Beckenham Photograph Studio and Library was established c1945 and was headed by Alan Jones (1945-1983). From 1983-1993 it was headed by Ed Kentish. The Series runs until 1996, at which point the Glaxo and Wellcome Photograph Departments merged - 6 months or so after the actual company merger.

The records were moved to Greenford c.1996 where they were stored in the Records Centre. They were managed by the Image Library based at Greenford - Denis Blandford and Rob Brooks who maintained the system once the series was closed. By 2002 the series was no longer being used and WT was approached for its transfer that took place in Dec 2003.

Rob Brooks had been a WF employee and provided useful information about the history of the series and the finding aids which is given in the main Description.

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