Wartime Storage

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 345 NGA35/1
  • Former Reference
      GB 345 NG33/1-10
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      10 files

Scope and Content

The papers contain inventories, annotated catalogues and correspondence relating to the location and storage conditions of NG pictures during the War as well as similar details relating to pictures not owned by the NG.

Administrative / Biographical History

During the Second World War most of the pictures were removed from the NG and taken to places of safe storage.

On 1 September 1939, the first consignment was taken in specially prepared railway coaches to North Wales, and from here to various locations: National Library, Aberystwyth; Avening; Pritchard Jones Hall, Bangor; Bontnewydd; Caernarvon Castle; Crosswood; and Penryn Castle.

The fall of France in 1940 brought greater risk of bombing and it was decided that the safest storage for NG pictures was underground. Manod Quarry - a remote disused slate quarry near Blaenau Ffestiniog - was chosen and on 12 August 1941 the first NG pictures were removed from their overground deposits and delivered at Manod. Martin Davies (with the help of 13 NG staff) lived at nearby Pengwern House and was effectively in charge of the project. His NG colleague, Ian Rawlins, acted as the scientific advisor. Manod Quarry also sheltered the NG library which Davies used constantly whilst researching and writing his catalogues.

The pictures remained at Manod for the duration of the War. Some weeks before the cessation of the hostilities in Europe, a few pictures were selected (by Kenneth Clark, then Director) to be sent back to Trafalgar Square. By the end of 1945 everything had returned from Wales.


Records maintained (as far as possible) according to the order detailed in Martin Davies's index and list of 1973. The catalogues have been arranged chronologically according to the annotations within them.

Access Information


Custodial History

Five of the six catalogues were kept separately in the Archive but were added to the papers during cataloguing in February 1999. The remaining files were deposited by the Conservation Department in 1995 before transfer to the archive at a later (unknown) date.