Photographs are a hugely important resource for local archives and here in Richmond we have a collection of over 20,000 images lovingly cared for by staff at our Local Studies Library and Archive. Photographs help document the history of the Borough and we are  indebted to those who spent their lives taking them. Leslie Freeman is one such person and his work has enriched our local studies collection filling in gaps about the Borough’s history.

Who was Leslie Freeman?
Leslie Freeman on Mortlake Green, taking pictures for the Millennium Project, 1998, taken by Isolde Barrington

Leslie Freeman was a well-known local historian with a special interest in railways and photography. He was an active and long-standing member of the Barnes and Mortlake Local History Society. Along with serving on the committee he edited the newsletter and acted as chairman between 1981 and 1991. He contributed to the Richmond Local Studies Library and Archive Millennium Project, Down Your Street 2000. This project gathered recent photographs from around the borough, to provide a unique resource that records Richmond upon Thames’s  history.  Leslie Freeman was very active in the project, taking and collecting six hundred photographs.  He was also the author of Going to the Parish, a history of St Mary the Virgin Church, where he was a bell ringer. He lived in Barnes, and later East Sheen, and died in 2000.

Documenting the Borough

The Local Studies Collection and Archive have been very fortunate to have been donated some of Leslie Freeman’s collection. It included hundreds of slides of the Barnes, Mortlake and East Sheen area taken in the 1960s and 1970s. His work lovingly documents the buildings and changes in the area over this period.

Wigan Hall 1968
Wigan Hall 1972

Leslie’s pictures include streets and houses, schools, pubs, commercial and community buildings and shops. He focuses on domesticbuildings which are often overlooked.

He recorded demolitions and building work, showing the life and subsequent destruction of buildings such as the Wigan Hall and Sheen House Stables. His collection will be of interest to anyone wanting to understand the area during this period, and the changes that have taken place.


Digitizing the collection
Mortlake Crossing Box and Old Chapel, 1967

Two years ago Richmond upon Thames’ Local Studies Library & Archive acquired a slide scanner It was bought with the aim of making the many slides in their collection accessible to the public as a digital resource. The team are currently working on the Leslie Freeman slide collection, and have already scanned over three hundred images.

The department eventually hope to have all the slides scanned and available to view on their online catalogue.  Every slide contributes to the knowledge and understanding of the development of the Borough.

For more information about any of the resources held by Richmond upon Thames Local Studies Library and Archive why not get in touch with them. You never know, they could have photos of your house, your old school or that building that was knocked down years ago.

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[Rosie, Librarian]