Historic England have made available online the Architectural Red Box Collection started by the National Buildings Record back in 1941 to document England’s built heritage, especially those buildings threatened or damaged by bombing during World War 2.
Photographs were mounted on cards and placed into red boxes, hence the name of the collection! The boxes have been arranged by place following the county and civil parish structure introduced back in 1974. Some boxes originally contained cards for more than one place but Historic England have separated these creating a “virtual” box for each place.
Historic England say:
The core of the collection came from photographic records collected by the Courtauld Institute of Art in the 1930s. Over the following years new images were added, including photography taken for the National Buildings Record, and collections acquired from both commercial and amateur photographers. The collection was closed to new material in 1991.
Subjects include churches and country houses, historic buildings and modern architecture. There are street scenes and village-scapes which bring to life Victorian and Edwardian England, alongside photographic records of buildings threatened with destruction during the mid 20th century.
Some images in the collection even date from the earliest days of photography in the 1850s!