Mining and photographic records

One of the finest underground mining photographers was John Charles Burrows, who took a series of glass plates documenting the Cornish mines in 1891.

Burrows was a friend of William Thomas, lecturer at the Cambourne Mining School, who encouraged him to publish several of his plates in a book: Mongst Mines and Miners (1893). They were printed in sepia and it was this publication which gained Burrows the first mining fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society.

Two photographers very prominent in the Survey's early English photographic collections were Thomas Clifford Fitzwilliam Hall and Donald Alexander MacAlister. Both of these men were mining geologists and Hall was charged with the responsibility for photography within the Survey's English division.

Hall and MacAlister worked closely together, chiefly in Cornwall and Devon, taking many of the early glass plate negatives of mining and associated practices. Sadly, which of them took each photograph is not recorded, although it is likely to be one or the other who appears, for the purpose of scale, in many of the images.