Photo Archive

The photographic archive is one of the treasures of The Morrab Library. Run by a team of volunteers, it is open to the general public, at no charge, every Thursday morning from 10am until 1pm.


Browse our online catalogue and view over 12,000 photos.


Several donated collections form the archive of 15,000 glass and celluloid negatives, and black and white prints. The largest collection is that of the Richards family, a dynasty of Penzance photographers. They captured images of life in West Cornwall from the early days of photography in the mid-19th century until the late 1970s. Subjects range from studio portraits to sport, fishing to flower-picking and shops to shipwrecks.

The photographic archive receives no public funding. Money raised from the sale of prints is used to conserve the material we hold for future generations to use and enjoy, so that the past may illuminate both present and future communities in Cornwall. A digitisation project is currently underway, and our catalogue is available online.

Donations are always welcome.

Queries from non-members requiring extensive research by our volunteers will incur a research fee of £20.00 per hour.

  • Queries may be submitted by post, telephone or email if you do not have a chance to visit us.
  • No appointment is needed to visit us – a trip down memory lane is freely available every Thursday! If you are making a special journey, please telephone first to ensure there will be someone on duty to answer your query.
  • An appointment is essential for group visits.
  • Scanned images and prints may be purchased.
  • A rate card of fees is available for commercial use of images.

Please email your Photo Archive queries to:


If you are concerned that you have found material on our website, for which you believe you are a rights holder and have not given permission, or is not covered by a limitation or exception in national law, please refer to our Takedown Policy.