York Explore

Imagine York was created to showcase photographs of York held by City of York Libraries and the City Archives. This online archive contains thousands of beautiful images of York, carefully researched by a team of expert volunteers. They show the many changes that have taken place in the city over the last 150 years. To see the archive click here

City of York Archives

Photographic archives of the City from the City Engineer’s Dept. from the 1900’s including photographic records prior to compulsory purchase clearances of ‘insanitary’ homes and slum clearances.

The Joe Murphy Archive (as yet not indexed or available to search) – an extensive collection donated by the family of the late local historian, lecturer and author, Joe Murphy of Osbaldwick. His collection includes hundreds of old photographic post cards of York. Also some pictures from the William Hayes collection by the well-known York photographer of local scenes and events at the turn of the 1800’s into the 1900’s. See also Ryedale Folk Museum below.

John Pick Archive (as yet not indexed or available to search) – an extensive collection of photographs by the ‘John Pick Press Agency’ which was housed for many years in offices on Low Ousegate. John Pick was a news and press agency which carried out photographic assignments in the York and North Yorkshire area for national news papers and international news agencies.

The Borthwick Institute of Archival Research, University of York

For more information click here Tel: 01904 321166

The Borthwick Institute at the University of York in Heslington is a treasure house of all manner of research sources for the historian. For the photographic researcher, however, there are three main resources of photographic archives:

The Rowntree Archive: The photographic prints and negatives include factory scenes, products, processes and marketing, cocoa plantations, and social clubs. There are about 10,000 photographs from the end of the 19th century. Approximately 10% can be seen online at Heritage Images

The remainder can be seen by appointment, but please be aware that 24 hours notice is required to see photographs in the Borthwick Institute in order to allow the photographs to acclimatise from cold storage. Copies of images can be purchased from the Borthwick; full details are on the Borthwick web pages.

Vickers Instruments Archive (Cooke, Troughton & Simms archive): This archive contains approximately 5,000 images dating from the second half of the 19th century. The images include factory scenes, and detailed photographs of Vickers products. The Borthwick is working to make all these images available on line. The images can be seen by appointment, but please be aware that 24 hours notice is required to see photographs in the Borthwick Institute in order to allow the photographs to acclimatise from cold storage. Copies of images can be purchased from the Borthwick; full details are on the Borthwick web pages

Atkinson-Brierley Architectural Archive: This archive contains about 100 images by the renowned photographers Bedford Lemere. They are all images of Brierley buildings, and date from the first 20 years of the 20th century. The images can be seen by appointment, but please be aware that 24 hours notice is required to see photographs in the Borthwick Institute in order to allow the photographs to acclimatise from cold storage. Copies of images can be purchased from the Borthwick Institute.

YAYAS (The Yorkshire Architectural and York Archaeological Society)

The Evelyn Collection of pictures, photographs, negatives and lantern slides collected or created by Dr. W. Arthur Evelyn. Historic and topographical views of York through the centuries. Click here

“Now housed in permanent archival conditions in York Minster Library, his slides form the basis of a much larger collection of Yorkshire images, the result of gifts and bequests from, amongst others, Eric Gee, Terry Gardner, Laurie Watson and Peter Hanstock*. In its new home the collection will be stored, conserved and curated to appropriate modern standards which will ensure its survival for many years to come. Gifts of suitable images to add to it are always welcome”.

(See also York Minster Library below)

Access to the collection is freely available, in accordance with Dr Evelyn’s wishes to students and researchers but a fee is charged for commercial use. Applications to view the collection should be addressed, in the first instance, to the Keeper of the Evelyn Collection, Mr. Ian Drake, 26 Burtree Avenue, Skelton, YORK, YO30 3DL. Tel: 01904/470010.

The York Minster Library

The York Minster Library and the Minster Archives are housed in the old Archbishop’s Palace.
Here is a link to the Archives.
Here is a link to the Library.
You can contact the Collections Assistant on 0844 939 0021 or the library on 01904 557250 or library@yorkminster.org

Quite apart from the wealth of historic religious volumes and documents held by this Library they also hold some specific photographic archives which will be of interest to the local historian seeking York image material. Foremost amongst them will be the Peter Hanstock Archive of images taken by the family-owned photographic business of J.W.Hanstock in Clarence Street, York which was established by 1920 and recorded many topographical views and local events and occasions over the subsequent decades of its existence.

Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton le Hole, North Yorkshire

To view the Ryedale Folk Museum, click here

Ryedale Folk Museum
Hutton le Hole
North Yorkshire
YO62 6UA

Tel: 01751 417 367
E mail: info@ryedalefolkmuseum.co.uk

Whilst the purpose of this museum is mainly to represent the history of the way of life of the people of North Yorkshire, in particularly the North Yorkshire Moors area, there is a valuable photographic archive to be sourced there in the Raymond Hayes Collection.

Raymond Hayes was the son of William Hayes, the very busy York photographer referred to above who had his home and business at 76 Monkgate up to 1911. He left the polluted air of the City with his family and his portable studio/darkroom for the cleaner atmosphere of Hutton le Hole in 1911 where he set up home and business afresh in the village at “Beck Garth”.

Amongst the many hundreds of pictures and negatives which have been left to the folk museum by Raymond Hayes (also including his studio and darkroom now re-erected within the museum site) are many which are of York subjects. The collection is presently in the process of being digitised for easier access.

The National Railway Museum

Photographic images, prints and negatives, of the growth of the railways including York as a centre of the development of the railway industry.  To view the National Railway Museum website click here

National Railway Museum
Leeman Road
York YO26 4XJ

Telephone: 08448 153139
E Mail: search.engine@nrm.org.uk

The York Press

The Press, Walmgate York (formerly the Yorkshire Evening Press)

The Press had an extensive archive of photographic prints taken by the newspaper’s photographers dating back to the early 1900s.  This is not indexed, but is organised alphabetically, by name and subject matter. Since 1997, all Press photographs have been electronically archived. Physical copies are now with the parent company in Bradford.

Many of the photographs – both some early hard-copy prints which have been electronically scanned, and some more recent photographs that were electronically archived – can be viewed online. To view these, or order copies, visit: www.thepress.co.uk or call Press Photosales on 01904 567135 or email photosales@thepress.co.uk.

Viewing of the Press’s archive of older photographic prints may also be possible by appointment. Contact Press Photosales on 01904 567135 or email photosales@thepress.co.uk to find out more.

To view the picture section of The York Press website, click here

For access to the more historic archives of The Press click here

The Nestlé UK Archives, York

Alex Hutchinson
Nestlé UK Archive
PO Box 203
YO91 1 XY

Email: alex.hutchinson@uk.nestlé.com

The Nestlé UK archive houses documents, photographs, films and ephemera relating to all of the Nestlé factories and offices across the UK including the Rowntree company (later Rowntree Mackintosh) in York.


York Mystery Plays

The National Centre for Early Music holds a growing archive of photographs, programmes and ephemera in the Mystery Plays archive. The NCEM is located in the ancient St. Margaret’s Church in Walmgate, York.  The website is here.

The collection includes photographs from the first of the revived cycle of York Mystery Plays held in 1951 (to coincide with the Festival of Britain) and most of the the following performances held over the decades since. The cast has been mostly amateur but there have also been famous professionals playing (in particular) Christ. The early performances were staged in the Museum Gardens with the background of the ancient ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey.  There is a searchable archive.

York Mystery Play Archive
c/o The National Centre for Early Music
St Margaret’s Church
York Y01 9TL

General Enquiries: 01904 632220
To contact the archivist, email info@yorkmysteryplays.org

York Archaeological Trust Archive

Christine Kyriacou, 47 Aldwark,York, YO1 7BX

Tel: 01904 663000
Email: archaeology@yorkat.co.uk

Holds black and white and colour images of all excavations carried out by the Trust since 1972 and also a picture archive. Click here

Visit York

Visit York is the official tourism organisation for York and its surroundings. You will find over 400 quality images of York on there website. Click here


There have been many books published over the years from which the researcher can see views of York which no longer exist together with events held within the city.  Notable amongst them are the following:

William Hayes 1871-1940, York Photographic Artist by Terry Buchanan. Hutton Press. 1986. ISBN. 0 907033 39 3).

Photographs and Photographers of York – the early years 1844 to 1879 by Hugh Murray. Published by YAYAS in association with Sessions of York. 1986.

Dr. Evelyn’s York by Hugh Murray. Published by YAYAS and Sessions of York. 1983

York Stories

York Stories – A resident’s record of York and its changes. Photographs and recollections, including lesser-known views and images of areas about to change. Click here

John Potter Photography

John Potter creates the most amazing and beautiful photographs of York and North Yorkshire (as well as many other parts of the country) and makes them available to the public, and publishers,
for everyone to enjoy.  The author of 15 books so far, the artist behind his many visual masterpieces and teacher at his very popular workshops, John is a very busy man – but very approachable too.

Working from his York home office John spends lots of his time out in the field planning his photo treks and waiting to get that very special time of day or weather pattern to capture the fleeting moment of magic in his camera.  The resulting images are then made available in books, magazines, greetings cards and reproduction rights for other publications.

John’s galleries include many images of York and North Yorkshire which can be seen here