Photographic Collections

Curator: Mark Etheridge BA

An unemployed miner coal-picking
An unemployed miner coal-picking in the Rhondda in 1937.

The collection comprises over 206,000 images, covering all aspects of Welsh industrial, maritime and transport activity. The Photographs are not available for general browsing; you will need to contact a curator who will make an appointment for you to see any images we have on the subject of your choice. An index is available. Copies of images, for private use, for use in academic projects and for publication can be ordered from the museum. Details of costs and, where available, reproduction fees, can be supplied upon request.

Some of the larger individual collections include:

The TEMPEST Collection

Established in Cardiff as an aerial photographic specialist after the Second World War, H. Tempest & Company took some 25,000 aerial photographs covering the whole of the UK (concentrating naturally on Wales) from 1950 - 1970. These include the early development of the M4 Motorway, the growth of post war industrial estates, and images of long established industries which have since vanished.

The Sandfields Comprehensive School
The Sandfields Comprehensive School, Aberavon near Port Talbot.
Aberthaw Power Station
A view of the Aberthaw Power Station taken in 1972.
Cambrian Air Services passenger registration facilities
A lovely period image of the Cambrian Air Services passenger registration facilities at Cardiff's Pengam Airport, taken in January 1954.

The HANSEN Collection

This consists of 4,560 full frame images of ships in and around Cardiff Docks taken between 1920 and 1975 by the local photographic firm of Lars Peter Hansen and his son Leslie.

The tramp steamer Llanberis
In this typical example of his well-composed photography, Leslie Hansen captured the tramp steamer Llanberis approaching Cardiff docks in the summer of 1948. Hawthorn, Leslie & Co. of Wallsend-on-Tyne built this vessel for the local Cardiff shipowners Evan Thomas, Radcliffe & Co. in 1928. Named after the village at the foot of Snowdon, she was one of many vessels in the Radcliffe fleet that bore Welsh place names beginning with Llan, meaning "church".
Click on the link below to open the catalogue to the Hansen Shipping Photographic Collection:
The Hansen Shipping Photographic Collection

The J. E. MARTIN Collection

Comprising 637 negatives and 222 slides showing good quality images of various aspects of land, sea and air transport (Welsh and English) of the post-war period up to about 1970.

The John Dillwyn Llewelyn Collection

John Dillwyn Llewelyn was born in Swansea in 1810, and was married to Emma Thomasina Talbot who was first cousin to the pioneer photographer Henry Fox Talbot. John was a founder member of the Photographic Society of London (which later became the Royal Photographic Society), and he was especially talented at capturing fleeting moments, such as waves, cloud movement and steam. At the Paris exhibition in 1855 he was awarded a silver medal for his Motion series which included a photograph of breaking waves in Caswell Bay, Gower and the steamer JUNO at Tenby. He died in 1882.

Many of the photographs in this collection are taken on the family estate at Penllergare, and comprise of photographs of the family and also views of the house, conservatory, gardens, lakes and wooded valleys. There are also photographs taken near their cottage at Caswell Bay and along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.

This important collection contains some of the earliest images taken in Wales, and comprises of about 1566 items. This includes 759 photographic prints, 309 Calotype negatives and 395 glass negatives. It also includes some documents and photographic equipment.

John Dillwyn Llewelyn with his calotype camera at Penllergare, 1853
John Dillwyn Llewelyn with his calotype camera at Penllergare, 1853
Chepstow rail bridge under construction, June 1852
Chepstow rail bridge under construction, June 1852

The CORNWELL Collection

John Cornwell was a freelance photographer who took many photographs of collieries, mostly in south Wales and the English Midlands, both underground and on the surface, during the 1970s and early 1980s. He perfected a method of underground photography using the standard colliery lighting and was able to photograph coal faces, roadways, shafts and equipment with amazing clarity. In addition to photographing working mines he also recorded abandoned mine workings, above and below ground.

Purchased in 2005 from the photographer Mr John Cornwell this collection consists of about 6,500 slides, film negatives and prints mainly relating to the South Wales coalfield.

Pit pony & ostler, Lady Windsor Colliery
Pit pony & ostler, Lady Windsor Colliery
Celynen North Colliery, 1978
Celynen North Colliery, 1978
Ammanford Colliery, 1976, Gerald Gibson drilling a shot hole on the coal face
Ammanford Colliery, 1976, Gerald Gibson drilling a shot hole on the coal face

The A. C. MITCHELL Collection

258 negatives showing mostly town and rural road scenes of south Wales. Born in Chatham, Mr. Mitchell settled in Wales in the 1950s and photographed "Things which he thought would pass away with time."

The A.B.P. Collection

Donated in 1996 by the Cardiff office of the Associated British Ports, this collection of about 2,000 negatives provides not only the workings of the south Wales docks, but also the social events such as visiting VIPs and staff presentations.

Importing fruit at Cardiff Docks, May 1973
Importing fruit at Cardiff Docks, May 1973
Chief Docks Manager's Office Christmas party
Chief Docks Manager's Office Christmas party
Cardiff Docks Women's Ambulance Teams
Cardiff Docks Women's Ambulance Teams

Opening hours and conditions of use

Ascom Telecommunications factory
An interior view of the Ascom Telecommunications factory in St. Mellons, Cardiff.
The figurehead of the Terra Nova
The figurehead of the Terra Nova.

The photographic reference collection is located at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea and is open to the public, by appointment only, from Monday to Friday from 10.30am - 1.00pm and 2.00pm to 4.30pm. It is closed on weekends and on national holidays.

If you would like to visit the photographic reference collection you will need to make an appointment. See the contact details for the photographic collection.

For further information contact:

Mark Etheridge,
National Collection Centre,
Heol Crochendy,
Parc Nantgarw,
CF15 7QT

Tel: 029 2057 3574


The Museum offers a photographic service where we can take and supply new photographs of objects in the Museum collection, and produce copy prints of photographs in the collection. A list of charges for this service, and additional reproduction fees, where applicable, is available from the Department.

Image Licensing Officer,
NMW Enterprises Limited,
Cathays Park,
CF10 3NP

Tel: 029 2057 3280

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