Two photo history related news items from Kew - a new book and a request for help with a research project.

1. New book: "The story of Kew Gardens in photographs" -

Having worked at Kew for 19 years I have long had an interest in early photographs of this notable institution and its gardens. In Kew's own collection there are two exceptional full-plate Claudet daguerreotypes taken of the construction of the Palm House, I believe taken in 1847 (the exact date is known, but I don't have the reference to hand). You can see a very poor quality detail at It is now great to see many of these images appear in the above book. I also have my own small collection, the earliest of which are some 1860s stereoviews and carte de visite, mainly by York (a small selection can be seen at

2. Research project: history of the museums -,-new-knowledge.htm

This blog item showcases the discovery of new photographs showing the interior of the museums, part of a research project trying to find out more about their history. Although early C20th, these images are rare depictions that have allowed researchers to get a better idea for how Hooker's original ideas were put in place.

I would like to throw out the question to members here to ask if they are aware of any photographs of Kew in their own collections, whether personal or professional, that they could share?

Many thanks, James

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  • Dear James, funnily enough I've just been looking through James Barnor's (b. 1929, Accra, Ghana) archive and there are a few of him visiting Kew Gardens with Dennis Kemp (accomplished climber and also worked for Kodak's lecture service). These would be at some point between 1959-69, not sure if useful to you at all? Laura

  • Hi James,

    Any interest in personnel at Kew? I've got five large black and white group photographs of student gardeners and staff at Kew Gardens 1936 to 1941, mounted but not framed, three of these are annotated with all the names on thre mounts.

    Best wishes

    Les Waters

  • I have in storage a largish albumen print (which from my recollection I would date to the 1860s) of the Gardens at a clearly still pretty early stage of their development, as most plants visible look newly planted, etc. It is at least ten years since I have had it out, and probably more than 25 years since I last looked at it closely, so I don't want to promise too much, but I shall look it out and post a copy here when I have managed to fight my way past the other stuff in the way! If it is of any interest, I should be happy to lend it to you.
  • James,

    I emailed a few examples to the above email address.

    Did they make it through??


  • Hugh, thanks for trying. You can get me directly at

  • James,

    I don't seem to be able to upload these j-pegs to this site.

    Not sure why?

    Perhaps you can provide an alternative email address.



  • HI James,

    Yes they are paget plates. I'm guessing at the date. I haven't looked at them in a log time. I really collect color earlier than the 1930's. I'll take a look at them today and get back to you later.

    It's possible I have a few other plates(autochromes) of the garden.

    I'll let you know.



  • Hi Hugh

    Anything is of interest to be honest - you never know what they might show.

    You say colour plates. I don't suppose they are Paget's are they? It's just that I have recently been in touch with someone who has about 30 or so Paget negatives taken at Kew in the 1920s. We've been seeing if we can make positives from them digitally by using positive scans and layering them with a scan of a projection screen from a positive plate in my collection. Not had much success yet though!

    Anyway, is there any way that you can send me more details, or some scans (even if they are very rough)?



  • James,I have a group of 1930 color plates of Kew. Is this too late for your project? 1930's?

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