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Ben Britton: “The New Towns are no longer new” – Basildon in the Conway Archive

In 1956, before Brooke House was built, or any part of Basildon for that matter, there was a sign in its place that read: “This is the site of Basildon Town Centre”. Over the next few years, the first buildings of what was already Basildon were put up, fulfilling the sign’s prophetic message. I wasRead more

John Ramsey: The Oxen of Laon Cathedral

Laon, a town in North-East France, has an immense and beautiful cathedral on top of a 200-metre hill, the location of the medieval walled town. It is one of the most important examples of early Gothic architecture. Sixteen life-size statues of oxen look down from the top of the two western towers. As far asRead more

Muny Morgan: Photographic Memories of Ravello, Italy

Having volunteered on the digitisation project at the Courtauld for two years in April (can’t believe it!) I always had my eye on the Italian section of the Conway collection. We process the boxes the order they appear on the shelf, which is alphabetical, so I knew it would take us a while to getRead more

Irma Delmonte: AF Kersting and The Picturesque

Looking at the world as if it were a picture is a relatively recent phenomenon, yet nowadays, with the advent of smartphones and social media, the practice of producing pictures is embedded in our daily routine, and the term “picturesque” is more relevant than ever. The Rievaulx Terrace at Duncombe Park in Yorkshire triggered myRead more

Ferhat Ulusu: Unexpected Music in the Conway Library

Did I really sign up for this? This is what I asked myself as soon as I walked into the building. A pretty lady, nicely presented with a red lipstick smiled at me and swiftly asked for my name. As a volunteer, I was preparing myself to either welcome guests or help with the drinks…Read more

Jane Macintyre on Northampton Architecture and Mr Bassett-Lowke

This is the second of two posts about Northampton architecture featured in the Conway library that I came across during a visit to the town, you can read the first post here. Energetic local businessman W.J. Bassett-Lowke (1877–1953), or “WJ”, was the man behind the development of the UK’s model railway industry. He was alsoRead more

Shijin Wei: Looking at the Collection for Costume Design

During my research project in the photographic library of the Courtauld Institute of Art, I looked through a box of black-and-white photographic prints. In a collection of architectural images, it was amazing to observe images that featured people. These photos record moments of the real world within a past time; the people captured look andRead more

Jane Macintyre on Northampton Architecture: the Guildhall

During a recent visit to Northampton I soon realised that this Midlands town is a treasure-trove of interesting architecture and so it seemed like a good idea to find out what images the Conway library holds. The first building I came across was the Guildhall, a striking example of the high Victorian Gothic revival byRead more

Sabrina Gardiner: a Love Affair with Canada

For almost ten years, I have had an intense love affair with Canada. Why exactly I love Canada has always eluded me; maybe it’s the friendliness of the people, or the vastness and natural beauty of its varied landscapes from sea to shining sea, or the numerous films and TV shows that are reeled outRead more

Mark Long: Vignetting in Archive Photographs

Whilst digitising the Conway Library, I often come across confusing visual anomalies like the one at the bottom left of item CON_B00756_F007_025. Understanding what has caused the image fault requires a bit of a technical explanation. In this case, what we are seeing is an example of vignetting, which happens when using large format camerasRead more