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The Harris' photography collection includes regionally significant historic prints. This includes film and glass negatives, slides and photograph albums by amateur and professional photographers. They depict life and work in Preston, from local architecture and industry to Preston Guild and studio portraits.

Highlights include Charles Wilson’s photographs of Preston from 1850 to 1853 which are amongst the oldest images of a British town, depicting views of Preston’s historic Market Place, new railway bridges and housing.

In addition, Robert Pateson’s beautiful original albumen prints from the 1860s capture views of Preston, the surrounding area and local events. Local industry photographs include those commissioned by Preston cotton manufacturer, Horrockses, Crewdson & Company, Preston Dock, Dick, Kerr & Co Ltd and Foster’s Foundry.

Photographs featuring people include an early daguerreotype dating to 1846, studio portraits by local photographers, and Roger Fenton’s series of photographs of the Crimean War.

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This collection is open part of the year. Email if you have a specific query.


This collection is located on the first floor.

Cost: free

This collection is free to visit

Exploring Photographs

Lady working in factory filling metal shell that will be used for war.

Worker Filling a Shell at Dick, Kerr Ltd Preston

Made: Preston

Dick, Kerr & Co. transformed their Electric Works into a shell production factory in October 1914. Over the next four years their 6000 strong workforce – including 2000 women – produced 3¼ million projectiles, including shrapnel and high explosive shells for land-based guns and battleships. This is one of many incredible photographs taken by Preston Borough Council Town Clerk, Alfred Howarth, during the First World War.

Lady working in cotton factory, operating cotton reel machine.

Worker at Horrockses

Made: Preston

This photograph shows a worker at Horrockses. The firm commissioned photographic prints to illustrate the stages in the production of cotton. Other photographs of industry include those of Preston Dock and Foster’s Foundry.

5 officers relaxing on rubble. A candid photograph.

Officers of the 89th Regiment at Cathcart’s Hill

Made: Crimea, Ukraine

Date: 1853 - 1856

Object number: PRSMG: 2004.20.9

Photographer: Roger Fenton

This photographic print on salted paper shows a group of five military officers relaxing in a rocky landscape during the Crimean War, fought between Russia on one side and Britain and her allies on the other. It is part of a series of nearly 100 photographs taken during the conflict by Britain’s first official war photographer, Roger Fenton.

Image shows man looking away from sketcher, dressed in suit. Man has grey hair with with well kept hair.

Edward Garlick

Made: Preston

Date: 1882

Object number: PRSMG: 2009.204.9

This photograph taken by Preston photographer, Alfred Beattie, is of Alderman Edward Garlick who was engineer for Preston Dock. The Harris holds a large collection of local studio portraits dating from 1862 – 1900 in Carte de Visite and Cabinet Card formats. Alfred Beattie was the uncle of Preston watercolour artist, Edwin Beattie.

Well dressed lady in left hand side of photo frame. Same lady and man standing outside of house looking at each other in right hand side of photo frame.

Mrs Anne Agnes Crofton and Mr John Addison with Anne

Made: Preston

Date: 1846

Photographer: Silas Eastham

This pair of daguerreotypes in a red leather case are Preston’s oldest surviving photographs. They were taken by Silas Eastham in 1846 and the people in the images are Mrs Anne Agnes Crofton and Mr John Addison. The Addison family were solicitors in Preston. Other related early photographic formats include Ambrotype and Tintype portraits, and the Harris Library collections hold a copy of Henry Fox Talbot’s book on photography, Pencil of Nature.

View from Whinfield House Looking West

Made: Preston

Date: 1862

Photographer: Robert Pateson

This photograph shows the River Ribble from Whinfield House in Preston. It was taken before the river was diverted and an enormous dock basin was excavated. The sailing ships are moored along the old quay. Robert Pateson took a large number of landscape photographs of Preston and portraits of its inhabitants. There are more than 50 in the Harris collections.​

Images shows flag market as it was in 1853. The front of the Harris is where the row of shops is today. Old fashioned sepia image with stall holders and traders.

Preston Flag Market

Made: Preston

Date: 1853

Object number: PRSMG: PH4758

Photographer: Charles Wilson

This incredible photograph of Preston Flag Market by Charles Wilson was taken in 1853 – the year that Charles Dickens published Hard Times. The front of the Harris today is where the row of shops is, behind the large cart in the image. It is part of a small collection of unique photographic prints on salted paper taken of Preston and the surrounding area.