Fillinghams' Photographs

Scope and Content

Collection of negatives etc., largely related to the University of Durham, taken or collected by staff of Fillinghams (photographers) of Elvet Bridge, Durham. The collection falls into the following groups: 

  • 1. Negatives of Universityof Durham groups (colleges, sports teams, departmental groups, Union Society debates, etc.), 1974 and 1977/78-1995/96, photographer Bill Lax (b. 1945), commercial manager of Fillingham's
  • 2. Negatives of the building of Kingsgate Bridge, Durham (a University of Durham commission, architect Ove Arup), 1963, photographer George Lye (b. 1930), general manager of Fillingham's
  • 3. Miscellaneous negatives of Durham, and one packet of negatives and colour prints, photographer George Lye. These comprise a packet of negatives of Durham castle floodlit (18/5/1972); a packet of negatives of the multi-storey car park nearthe Market Place (18/9/1973); a packet of negatives and prints of the same car park and adjacent areas (9/10/1995) before the demolition of the car park; one view of the cathedral from above the railway station (20/5/1980); a packet of prints ofMichael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury (7/9/1977)
  • 4. Bundle of negatives of land reclamation in Co. Durham pit villages, possibly taken for the County Planning Department, photographer George Lye (Brancepeth, 4/11/75 and 29/3/76; Brandon, 27/11/75 and 2/3/76; Chilton, 11/11/75 and 2/4/76;Tudhoe, 19/7/76
  • 5. 27 glass negatives of Durham (6.5 x 8.5 in.), and one hand tinted glass negative (6.25 x 4.25 in.) of a child of the Victorian period. The large plates , and possibly also the smaller one, were acquired by George Lye, according to his ownrecollection, at a sale of equipment etc. of the Edis firm of photographers, Saddler Street, Durham, after the closure of the firm in 1964. The larger group are views of the Cathedral (exterior and interior), including the Monks' Dormitory, theNorman arch in the Tunstal Gallery of Durham Castle, the cottage at the White Gates and the cottage at the end of Prebends Bridge
  • 6. 16 mm cinefilm said to be of Polish miners, ? working in Co. Durham pits, with soundtrack

Administrative / Biographical History

George T. Fillingham, founder of the Fillingham firm, came to Durham about 1904 ( Durham directory), and worked for The Science and Art Company, a photographic firm at 69 Saddler St (information from George Lye). There had been a photography firm at that address (or 68 or 68A Saddler St) since F.W.Morgan moved there in 1897. (Morgan had been in business as a photographer since 1887 at 1 Saddler St, apparently setting up in premises already in use by F. Morgan, perhaps his father, as a grocery). By 1899 Morgan's business had been taken over byE. Binns, who was succeeded by the Science and Art Company in 1903. In the period 1904-1910 George T. Fillingham is variously described in the Durham Directory as manager or traveller. In 1911 his name replaced that ofthe Science and Art Company at 69 Saddler St, and his firm continued to operate at that address or 68A until after the First World War. By 1921, however, it had moved to 12 Elvet Bridge, where it remained until its closure.

George Lye joined Fillingham's in 1945, aged 15. Bill Lax began his photographic career in 1961 when he was apprenticed to J.A. Mills, photographers, 69A Saddler Street. He became retail manager at Mills for 10 years, and then came toFillingham's, where he managed the commercial side of the business. The firm was frequently employed by university departments, colleges, and societies, especially after the closure of the Edis photography firm in 1964. It destroyed its oldernegatives at intervals, however, and at the time of its closure none of its university negatives earlier than 1974 still survived. [Information from George Lye and Bill Lax.]

The identity of the photographer or photographers responsible for the 19th century glass negatives in the collection is uncertain. One is signed Heaviside. T. Heaviside, followed by F. Heaviside, operated aphotography business in Queen St, Durham from about 1863 until 1891. Others may be by J.R. Edis (founder of the Edis photography firm), as George Lye assumed in view of his recollection of how he acquired them, but this was challenged when some wereprinted in a local paper by an informant who attributed them to F.W. Morgan.


Arranged in the 6 groups described under Scope and Contents. Group 1, Bill Lax's university negatives, are arranged chronologically by year, and within each year in order of university departments, societies, and sports clubs, followed bycollege groups.

Access Information

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Presented by George Lye and Bill Lax of Fillinghams, photographers, Elvet Bridge, Durham, 13 March 2000, shortly before the closure of the firm (accession Misc. 1999/2000:7).

Other Finding Aids

Online catalogue at online catalogue.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright in photographs taken by George Lye and Bill Lax was included in their gift of the negatives to the university.

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assistwhere possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.