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Unseen images of some of Britain’s most famous landmarks released online 


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Thousands of stunning unseen images of British buildings and huge infrastructure projects have been released online for the first time by archivists.

The pictures, taken from the John Laing Photographic Collection, include notable sites like Coventry Cathedral, the M1 motorway, the Barbican in London and the Second Severn Crossing.

Everyday sites such as social housing estates, sewage works and bus stations are also among more than 2,000 pictures from last century released on Historic England’s website.

The pictures form the first batch of 10,000 newly digitised images taken by photographers at John Laing, which ceased its construction work in 2002.

They have been released as part of Historic England’s Breaking New Ground project to digitise and explore Britain’s construction history.

Thousands of stunning unseen images of British buildings and huge infrastructure projects have been released online for the first time by archivists. Among them is an aerial view of an under-construction Second Severn Crossing in October 1995 (pictured, looking towards Wales)

The first levels of the sprawling Barbican Arts Centre in central London are seen here under construction in 1978. An iconic example of brutalist architecture, the centre and its surrounding housing estate is Grade II listed. These pictures form the first batch of 10,000 newly digitised images taken by photographers at John Laing, which ceased its construction work in 2002

The first levels of the sprawling Barbican Arts Centre in central London are seen here under construction in 1978. An iconic example of brutalist architecture, the centre and its surrounding housing estate is Grade II listed. These pictures form the first batch of 10,000 newly digitised images taken by photographers at John Laing, which ceased its construction work in 2002

John Laing employed photographers throughout the last century to capture its work, which include snaps of staff outings from sports days to trips to the seaside. Here workers lay the foundation for the central reservation of the M1 motorway between 1958 and 1959

John Laing employed photographers throughout the last century to capture its work, which include snaps of staff outings from sports days to trips to the seaside. Here workers lay the foundation for the central reservation of the M1 motorway between 1958 and 1959

Everyday sites such as social housing estates, sewage works and bus stations are also among the pictures released on Historic England's website. Pictured: Three Laing workers fixing gold-coloured copper alloy sheeting to the domed roof of the main prayer hall of London Central Mosque, near Regent's Park in 1976

Everyday sites such as social housing estates, sewage works and bus stations are also among the pictures released on Historic England’s website. Pictured: Three Laing workers fixing gold-coloured copper alloy sheeting to the domed roof of the main prayer hall of London Central Mosque, near Regent’s Park in 1976

The images offer rare glimpses into some of Britain's most iconic structures during their creation. Here men are pictured working on the geometric tile decoration for the domed ceiling of the main prayer hall at the London Central Mosque in 1977

The images offer rare glimpses into some of Britain’s most iconic structures during their creation. Here men are pictured working on the geometric tile decoration for the domed ceiling of the main prayer hall at the London Central Mosque in 1977

Some projects they recorded were bigger than others, including this still from 1957 which shows engineers moving the bottom of the dome of a pressure vessel into position within a thermal shield during the construction of Berkeley Nuclear Power Station

Some projects they recorded were bigger than others, including this still from 1957 which shows engineers moving the bottom of the dome of a pressure vessel into position within a thermal shield during the construction of Berkeley Nuclear Power Station

The pictures have been released as part of Historic England's Breaking New Ground project to digitise and explore Britain's construction history. Here some of Laing's builders construct a steel frame for a post-war prefabricated BISF (British Iron and Steel Federation) house in 1946

The pictures have been released as part of Historic England’s Breaking New Ground project to digitise and explore Britain’s construction history. Here some of Laing’s builders construct a steel frame for a post-war prefabricated BISF (British Iron and Steel Federation) house in 1946

This stunning image captures the moment an RAF Belvedere helicopter attempts to hoist the 80ft bronze spire for the new Coventry cathedral, seen from a scaffolding tower. 'Operation Rich Man' was a joint project involving Royal Air Force staff and Laing staff which involved an RAF Belvedere helicopter hoisting in to place the 80ft bronze spire on to the new cathedral

This stunning image captures the moment an RAF Belvedere helicopter attempts to hoist the 80ft bronze spire for the new Coventry cathedral, seen from a scaffolding tower. ‘Operation Rich Man’ was a joint project involving Royal Air Force staff and Laing staff which involved an RAF Belvedere helicopter hoisting in to place the 80ft bronze spire on to the new cathedral

A team of Laing workers are captured smoothing over a concrete surface during the construction of the runway at Filton Airport in Bristol. First constructed in 1910, the South Gloucestershire runway was extended in the 1940s to accomodate larger aircraft, and was even used to test the supersonic Concorde

A team of Laing workers are captured smoothing over a concrete surface during the construction of the runway at Filton Airport in Bristol. First constructed in 1910, the South Gloucestershire runway was extended in the 1940s to accomodate larger aircraft, and was even used to test the supersonic Concorde

As part of the project, former Laing construction workers are attending schools to share their experiences on the building sites.

Pensioner John McGuinness was a cost surveyor with Laing from 1960 and worked on Easiform housing developments.

He has spoken to schoolchildren at Goddard Park primary school in Swindon.

Mr McGuinness said: ‘As someone who trained with Laing and later worked on a wide range of sites in various roles, I am delighted to have taken part in this project.

‘The sites I worked on with Laing ranged from brick and concrete housing to projects including the London Central Mosque, and the British Library.

‘I hope the workshop gave the children insight into the urgent housing shortages in the 1950s and 1960s after the Second World War, and the new and innovative methods of house construction which were used in their area.’

James Laing originally established the firm in Carlisle in 1848 and it grew to become one of Britain’s major construction companies.

The company employed photographers throughout the last century to capture its work, which include snaps of staff outings from sports days to trips to the seaside.

A site nurse is pictured wading through thick mud during the construction of the M1 London to Yorkshire Motorway in September 1958. It was the first urban-to-urban motorway to be constructed, however the Preston by-pass was the first motorway to be completed, and now forms part of the M6

A site nurse is pictured wading through thick mud during the construction of the M1 London to Yorkshire Motorway in September 1958. It was the first urban-to-urban motorway to be constructed, however the Preston by-pass was the first motorway to be completed, and now forms part of the M6

A customer fills up their car at a rather basic petrol station on the newly constructed M1 motorway in 1959

A customer fills up their car at a rather basic petrol station on the newly constructed M1 motorway in 1959

Pensioner John McGuinness, who worked as a cost surveyor with John Laing from 1960 and worked on Easiform housing developments, is one of the company's several former employees who is attending schools to share their experiences on the remarkable building sites. Pictured: Engineers lay the foundation for the road on the Second Severn Crossing, now the Prince of Wales Bridge in 1995

Pensioner John McGuinness, who worked as a cost surveyor with John Laing from 1960 and worked on Easiform housing developments, is one of the company’s several former employees who is attending schools to share their experiences on the remarkable building sites. Pictured: Engineers lay the foundation for the road on the Second Severn Crossing, now the Prince of Wales Bridge in 1995

Pillars for the Second Severn Crossing are seen rising out of the murky Severn waters as sections of steel plate girders with a composite reinforced concrete slab are moved into place. The bridge now has the M4 motorway running over it, taking it off the hands of the first Severn Bridge built in 1966

Pillars for the Second Severn Crossing are seen rising out of the murky Severn waters as sections of steel plate girders with a composite reinforced concrete slab are moved into place. The bridge now has the M4 motorway running over it, taking it off the hands of the first Severn Bridge built in 1966

Jacqueline Bowker, student engineer and Anita Manning, chain girl, with the 'Jay Robertson', a large jack-up barge working in the River Severn, pictured in the background during the intial phases of construction of the Second Severn Crossing in 1992. The 'Jay Robertson' was used to drill piles through the sea bed for two viaduct support piers close to the Severn Rail Tunnel

Jacqueline Bowker, student engineer and Anita Manning, chain girl, with the ‘Jay Robertson’, a large jack-up barge working in the River Severn, pictured in the background during the intial phases of construction of the Second Severn Crossing in 1992. The ‘Jay Robertson’ was used to drill piles through the sea bed for two viaduct support piers close to the Severn Rail Tunnel

Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson said: 'We are delighted to bring to the public the fascinating John Laing Photographic Collection through digitising 10,000 images, which will be accessible to everyone through our website. Pictured: An RAF aircrew work to manoeuvre an 80ft bronze spire on to a 1 yard square plate on the roof of Coventry Cathedral in 1962

Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson said: ‘We are delighted to bring to the public the fascinating John Laing Photographic Collection through digitising 10,000 images, which will be accessible to everyone through our website. Pictured: An RAF aircrew work to manoeuvre an 80ft bronze spire on to a 1 yard square plate on the roof of Coventry Cathedral in 1962

Letter carver and sculptor Ralph Beyer is captured thoroughly checking is carving on the foundation stone for Coventry Cathedral in 1956. Ralph (1921-2008) was commissioned to carve nave inscriptions for the new Cathedral which was built between the mid-1950s and 1962

Letter carver and sculptor Ralph Beyer is captured thoroughly checking is carving on the foundation stone for Coventry Cathedral in 1956. Ralph (1921-2008) was commissioned to carve nave inscriptions for the new Cathedral which was built between the mid-1950s and 1962

Ralph Beyer (centre) with his assistant Michael Watson carving an inscription on a Hollington stone panel in Coventry Cathedral in 1961, five years into its construction. It was to replace its predecessor nearby, which was left bombed out following the Second World War

Ralph Beyer (centre) with his assistant Michael Watson carving an inscription on a Hollington stone panel in Coventry Cathedral in 1961, five years into its construction. It was to replace its predecessor nearby, which was left bombed out following the Second World War

'The collection offers unparalleled insight into the construction of 20th century Britain - covering everything from cathedrals, mosques and housing, to bus stations, bridges and motorways.' This is rare view of London Central Mosque from a high vantage point shows the bare steelwork for the domed roof of the prayer hall during construction in 1975

‘The collection offers unparalleled insight into the construction of 20th century Britain – covering everything from cathedrals, mosques and housing, to bus stations, bridges and motorways.’ This is rare view of London Central Mosque from a high vantage point shows the bare steelwork for the domed roof of the prayer hall during construction in 1975

Two men fasten the crescent finial to a crane outside the London Central Mosque in 1977, ready for it to be lifted onto the domed roof of the prayer hall. The finial was manufactured from glass-fibre reinforced concrete in Northamptonshire, and painted in South Wales to give a gold coloured finish

Two men fasten the crescent finial to a crane outside the London Central Mosque in 1977, ready for it to be lifted onto the domed roof of the prayer hall. The finial was manufactured from glass-fibre reinforced concrete in Northamptonshire, and painted in South Wales to give a gold coloured finish

The site team at the London Central Mosque, stood in front of the minaret on the penultimate day of the slipforming operation in 1974. The minaret of the London Central Mosque was constructed using a slipforming technique, in which concrete is poured into a continuously moving form

The site team at the London Central Mosque, stood in front of the minaret on the penultimate day of the slipforming operation in 1974. The minaret of the London Central Mosque was constructed using a slipforming technique, in which concrete is poured into a continuously moving form

Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson said: ‘We are delighted to bring to the public the fascinating John Laing Photographic Collection through digitising 10,000 images, which will be accessible to everyone through our website.

‘The collection offers unparalleled insight into the construction of 20th century Britain – covering everything from cathedrals, mosques and housing, to bus stations, bridges and motorways.

‘We hope our Breaking New Ground project will shine a light on prominent and everyday British landmarks, and inspire the next generation to enjoy and engage in the built heritage all around us.’

Sir Martin Laing, chairman of trustees at the John Laing Charitable Trust, said: ‘I am delighted that this unique record of the construction industry is being made available to a wide audience and demonstrates the evolving nature and contribution of an industry that impacts us all.

‘As a company Laing has been a leader in this change and demonstrates how important the people who work in it are and how we have been able to affect their lives and working conditions.’

Historic England, formerly English Heritage, is a public body protecting and celebrating the country’s historical environment including ancient monuments and buildings, beaches, parks and pie shops.

Engineers look on during the erection of boiler number six as it is moved into its final position during the construction of Berkeley Nuclear Power Station in 1958. Situated on the bank of the River Severn, the station was decommissioned in 1989

Engineers look on during the erection of boiler number six as it is moved into its final position during the construction of Berkeley Nuclear Power Station in 1958. Situated on the bank of the River Severn, the station was decommissioned in 1989

Workmen are seen straightening the steel reinforcement rods after the bottom of the dome of the pressure vessel is winched into position within the thermal shield during the construction of Berkeley Nuclear Power Station in 1957

Workmen are seen straightening the steel reinforcement rods after the bottom of the dome of the pressure vessel is winched into position within the thermal shield during the construction of Berkeley Nuclear Power Station in 1957

Sir Martin Laing, chairman of trustees at the John Laing Charitable Trust, said: 'I am delighted that this unique record of the construction industry is being made available to a wide audience and demonstrates the evolving nature and contribution of an industry that impacts us all. Pictured: Workmen put in place the lining panels inside a cooling water tunnel during the construction of Berkeley Nuclear Power Station in 1958

Sir Martin Laing, chairman of trustees at the John Laing Charitable Trust, said: ‘I am delighted that this unique record of the construction industry is being made available to a wide audience and demonstrates the evolving nature and contribution of an industry that impacts us all. Pictured: Workmen put in place the lining panels inside a cooling water tunnel during the construction of Berkeley Nuclear Power Station in 1958

Three men wear Draeger gas masks during a safety course at the British Library construction site. The British Library was designed by the architect Colin St John Wilson and was built between 1982 and 1999 by the contractor John Laing Limited

Three men wear Draeger gas masks during a safety course at the British Library construction site. The British Library was designed by the architect Colin St John Wilson and was built between 1982 and 1999 by the contractor John Laing Limited

Two Laing workers at the Carlisle Civic Centre construction site, showing I Blackett (left), one of the newest members of the team with long-serving member of staff, Harry Varah, Foreman Bricklayer.

Two Laing workers at the Carlisle Civic Centre construction site, showing I Blackett (left), one of the newest members of the team with long-serving member of staff, Harry Varah, Foreman Bricklayer.

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