Historic England’s ‘Breaking New Ground’ project has now finished the digitisation of 10,000 images from the John Laing Photographic Collection, a project supported by the John Laing Charitable Trust. The project conserved, catalogued, and digitised the images from the company and made them freely available in the Historic England Archive online.
The John Laing building company began in 1848 when James Laing and his wife Ann, along with some employees, built a single house in Carlisle. It remained a family business until the construction side of the business was sold in 2001. John Laing constructed the UK’s first major motorway, the Second Severn Crossing, and Sizewell B power station. They also built a number of important post-war buildings such as Coventry Cathedral and the Preston Bus Station, and built much of Milton Keynes new town. Amongst the other industrial buildings they constructed are the Walls Ice Cream Factory in Gloucester, Patons and Baldwins Knitting Factory in Darlington, and the Shoreham Cement Works in West Sussex.
As well as highlighting the projects undertaken by the company, the images provide a valuable insight into the work and play of the lives of the workers and their families during the post-war 20th century building boom. Further information on the project, and how to view the images using an interactive map, can be found here – https://historicengland.org.uk/whats-new/news/foundations-laid-then-buckets-and-spades/