About this exhibition
Long before the creation of the European Union, Europeans were looking for the means to bring their states closer to one another. This bond has been achieved in many ways, but one of the most important is the improvement in transport. This has helped to unite countries internally as well as to bring them together externally. For instance it was not until railway timetables required uniform timekeeping that clocks across the United Kingdom told the same time.
This exhibition of photographs from The National Archives is part of a larger exhibition put together by partners in the Safeguarding European Photographic Images for Access (SEPIA) project. Each institution provided images from their own holdings. It shows transport of all kinds, in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe. This is a taster showing one aspect of our photographic holdings; together the exhibitions try to show how we have arrived at the Europe we know today.
For millennia people relied on horses for land transport. But the horse's decline at the end of the 19th century was fast. The steam train, the bus, the lorry and the car had arrived. Steamships replaced sailing ships. And man developed balloons, aircraft and airships that allowed him to fly. All this allowed people and goods to move more freely. Transport is not all about business, though. It helped the new urban population escape to the countryside and opened up the cities themselves.
The collection also shows the technical development; the marvels of design and construction that improvements in transport spawned. Transport has fundamentally altered the world in which we live.
The SEPIA project brings together institutions from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. All have large holdings of photographs. It seeks to improve access to these collections, with digitised services and consistent cataloguing and to guarantee care for the originals.