Science Museum Research Center Inaugural Conference

  • Noeme Santana (Invited speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


"Photography as a business practice in the civil engineering industry" Considered one of Britain’s leading contractors in the late nineteenth century, S. Pearson & Son was a family run civil engineering company founded in Bradford, Yorkshire in 1846. In 1880 Pearson moved its company headquarters to London where it undertook major infrastructure contracts across the globe. Between 1880 and 1930 Pearson organised around 13.000 photographs of its business contracts including construction progress, presentational photographs and oil survey images in 138 photographic albums which constitute a rich and underexplored visual and material fifty year account of its technological, industrial and corporate history. Close engagement with the Pearson albums has unearthed the many ways in which photographs were in fact a fundamental part of Pearson’s wider business strategies which included using photographs in internal communication, promotion of Pearson’s excellence as one of Britain’s leading contractors, and in oil exploration surveys through photographically illustrated reports.Engineers were not unfamiliar with the use of visual materials in their day-to-day activities through the use of technical drawings and sketching. However, photography enabled them to actively, affordably and accurately depict both natural and manmade phenomena. Drawing upon photographic collections from the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Pearson collection at the Science Museum, the focus of this paper is on one hand to outline the long standing relationship between photography and the civil engineering industry, and on the other, to shed some light on how photography was applied as a business practice heavily implemented in the daily operational activities of one of Britain’s most proclaimed civil engineering contractors in the late nineteenth century.
Period1 Apr 2016
Event typeOther