Home  / BW192/3


Main Photograph Collection


9 boxes containing 5581 photographs sorted by photographer or source, sorted by waterway, and of canal company seals.



Reference code


Administrative /‚Äč Biographical history

The photographs comprising this collection have been deposited since 1963. The collection started in 1963 with Jack James and the opening of the Waterways Museum at Stoke Bruerne. Jack James was a former narrowboat captain and lock keeper at Stoke Bruerne who collected canal memorabilia, including photographs, during his time working on the canals. James, along with C N Hadlow who was the first curator of the museum and also had a large collection of canal memorabilia, put their items on display in an old mill at Stoke Bruerne which became and still is the museum. In 1988 the collection moved to The Waterways Archive in Gloucester where it has been kept ever since. The collection has gradually increased over the years with people continually donating their photographs, including many who lived and worked on the waterways or had relatives who did.

Extent & medium

9 boxes

System of arrangement

The photographs in the main photographic collection have come to The Waterways Archive gradually since the opening of the Waterways Museum at Stoke Bruerne in 1963. Previous to this project, descriptions of the photographs were stored on a database and numbered 1 to 6664. There was little arrangement of the photographs with various images from different sources and waterways mixed together. The photographs in the main collection have been sorted into 3 categories, by the name of the photographer or source where known; by waterway location and name; and a section of canal company seals. They were firstly sorted electronically, being input into CALM cataloguing software with new descriptions and new numbers, and then sorted physically according to the numbers they had been given. Photographs arranged by photographer or source were only arranged in this way if there was a sufficient number to warrant them being separated from the rest of the collection. Each person or company has been allocated a series in the catalogue, for example the Cyril Arapoff photograph collection, and these series' are sorted in last name alphabetical order. The photographs are catalogued individually under each of these names and are sometimes further divided into waterway name where there are a large number of photographs in one series. Photographs arranged by waterway have been divided into regions, for example Midlands and London, or Scotland. Each waterway has been given a series and is listed alphabetically under whichever region they are in. Some of the series' with a large amount of photographs, for example those taken on the Grand Union Canal which number 944, are further divided into sections of the canal, i.e. the Main Line or Leicester Line, so that they are easier to identify and locate. Once the descriptions of the photographs had been input into CALM, and the new numbers had been created, the collection had to be sorted physically. This firstly involved assessing and removing any photographs which were not relevant to the collection or those which were duplicates of others in the collection. The remaining photographs were then physically numbered according to the numbers they were given in CALM, placed into separate melinex sleeves, and finally stored in archival boxes.