Monday, 27 January 2014

Save Photo discover the earliest surviving original photographs of Sir Winston Churchill

Left: Detail from Welldon’s House Group 1, 1891, original glass plate, © Save Photo.
Right: Welldon’s House Group 1, 1890, original glass plate, © Save Photo.

January 2014 – Save Photo Limited have discovered what may be the earliest surviving original images of Winston Churchill. They were discovered in the Hills and Saunders Harrow Collection, which they were contracted to digitise, conserve and catalogue for the private owner. The collection was found in poor condition in the dairy barn of a farm outside Cirencester in 2012. The private owner and Save Photo rescued the collection and relocated it to a secure and climate controlled storage at Save Photo’s headquarters in Warwickshire. Save Photo are carefully cleaning, cataloguing, storing and digitising the images for future digital consumers to enjoy.

For over 90 years, between 1860 and 1970, Hills and Saunders, photographers by Royal Appointment, captured memorable images of Harrow schoolboys, their families and the beautiful surrounds of this prestigious institution. This collection, of over 90,000 glass plate negatives, is possibly the largest surviving archive of its kind in the world. The Collection includes every member of staff, pupil and sporting team from Harrow School between 1860 and 1965. Glass plates rarely survive due to their fragile nature and other top public schools are known to have sold off or disposed of their plates.
Lizzie Davies, Save Photo’s archivist, discovered the seven images of Winston Churchill whilst she was matching individual pupils to the photographic plates using the original photographers’ ledgers and documentation. 

                                 A glass plate with original photographer’s handwritten notes, © Save Photo.

The Winston Churchill plates:

Seven plates have been discovered that show Winston Churchill aged between 13 and 17, during his four years at Harrow School as part of The Head Master’s House between 1889 and 1892, under House Master Reverend Welldon. Six are from The Head Master’s House ‘Welldon’ group photographs and one photograph features him in the Harrow School Rifle Corp. In The Head Master’s House group photographs Winston Churchill is depicted through his years alternating between unhappiness and contentedness, reflecting the statesman’s varied attitude towards his school years - though he didn’t excel at school, he revisited Harrow many times. One can see his schoolboy maturation during his years at Harrow, moving from the front to the back row. He can also be seen dressed in military garb with the rifle Corp, having joined very early on. One can see a keen alertness in his expression pointing towards his illustrious military career ahead.

                           Left: Detail from Welldon’s House Group 1, 1890, original glass plate, © Save Photo.
Centre: Detail from Harrow School Rifle Corp, 1892, original glass plate, © Save Photo.
Right: Detail from Welldon’s House Group 1, 1892, original glass plate, © Save Photo.

Churchill’s official biographer Sir Martin Gilbert offered a valuable insight into Churchill’s school-life attitude, writing: 'When, at the height of the Blitz in 1940, Randolph accompanied his father to Harrow for the annual school songs, Churchill told him, "Listening to those boys singing all those well-remembered songs I could see myself fifty years before singing those tales of great deeds and of great men and wondering how I could ever do something glorious for my country." '
Martin Gilbert, Churchill, A Life.

Peter Boswell, Managing Director of Save Photo comments ‘Save Photo Limited has been very privileged to work with such a unique collection of historical significance. Our team have been working on an intensive programme of conservation and archiving. We have been lovingly inspecting each photographic plate to ensure it is carefully cleaned, recorded and stored in high quality archival sleeves. With the First World War centenary events beginning this year, I am delighted that we have been able to add these amazing lost images to the portfolio of known Churchill images’.

The Winston Churchill plates that form part of the Hills and Saunders Harrow Collection will be offered for sale at auction later this year, details to be announced by the Private Owner in due course.


For more information about Save Photo, the Hills and Saunders Harrow Collection or to request interviews with Pete Boswell (Managing Director, Save Photo Limited), Lizzie Davies (Archivist, Save Photo Limited) or Rita Boswell (Previous Harrow Collection Archivist), please contact Claire Owen or Emma Double at Gong Muse, 0207 935 4800,

Notes to editors:
SAVE PHOTO is the UK’s leading scanning and digital asset development company specialising in supplying digitisation and scanning services to many of the UK’s major collections and archives.
Operating from their National Scanning Centre in Warwickshire, they have developed digital assets for many organisations and institutions that include the British Film Institute and the Imperial War Museum.
They design and manage bespoke end-to-end on-site or off-site projects that often involve millions of images and documents. They offer a range of professionally delivered services that include digitisation, cataloguing, meta-data, data storage, DAM and digital optimisation for all formats and type of archives and collections such as glass plates, negatives, slides, photographs, video, cine film, publications and documents.
Their well known ‘Photo Legacy’ scanning service for private consumers is available nationwide through leading retailers, Tesco, Boots, and Jessop’s providing people with a trusted photo scanning service for all their photographic, video and cine family archives.
For the latest news and developments go to or follow on Twitter at @SavedPhoto.
All rights to the images are reserved © Save Photo.


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