About Jamie Robinson

Photographer for the John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester.

Oratory Photographs

Batch 10 of the digitisation of the archive is going incredibly well, since the delivery in December, we’ve managed to shoot over 16,000 images.

Box N58 contains some interesting photographs and prints, mainly an album entitled ‘Oratory Photographs’ by A. H. Pollen.


On first glance I thought it would be standard images we have came across before, photographs of the oratory building, and of course the ever photo ready Cardinal Newman himself.


Of course, he is on the very first page however.

The album does contain very well composed images of the Oratory and related buildings, but it actually gives a fascinating insight into the life of those who studied and lived around the Oratory. Many well composed group shots of the boys and young gents that attended the school, cricket teams, sporting events and even theatrical productions are included in the album.



A Cricket team


Quite impressive costumes and beards in a play


A group of young monkeys pose


The project itself is starting to near its completion. There are only 8 boxes left to photograph of this batch, which is scheduled to be the final load, to be completed by the end of May. We also hope to visit the oratory and photograph some of the treasures held within its fantastic library.


Project Update

A portrait of Newman from the archive

A portrait of Newman from the archive

The digitisation of John Henry Cardinal Newman’s archive is now in full swing. Since the project began only a few months ago, we have taken more than 17,600 images so far, across 22 boxes of material.

We are thrilled to now have  Tony Richards and Cerys Speakman working on the project, Tony as our photographer and Cerys as our digitisation assistant. Take a look at Tony’s amazing vintage photographic work on his site here.

A letter addressed to 'J' at the Oratory

A letter addressed to ‘J’ at the Oratory

The vast majority of the items we have photographed so far have been letters of correspondence to a variety of people, but there are also other pieces of ephemera that detail the day to day life of the Oratory, And a wonderful photographic album containing many portraits of Newman himself.

Re packaged boxes

Re packaged boxes in the climate controlled strong room at The John Rylands Library

As well as digitising the entire archive, the project also includes rehousing all the material into acid free, conservation friendly bespoke packaging. Boxes are custom made by the Collection Care team on our box maker.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Batches of 25 boxes are being shipped between the Oratory and the Rylands, the first count of 17,625 images is only from the first 22 boxes. The hand over for the next batch is in August, so once the National Institute for Newman Studies have the images, expect a lot more posting of interesting finds on the blog!


Welcome to the newly founded blog for the Digitisation of John Henry Cardinal Newman’s Archive.

John Henry Cardinal Newman’s enormous handwritten archive, kept at the Birmingham Oratory, will be captured by The Centre for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care (CHICC) at The University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library.

CHICC will be using top of the range equipment, Phase One IQ180 cameras and custom built cradle and support systems to digitise the entire archive.

With CHICC, The National Institute for Newman Studies and Birmingham Oratory all working in collaboration to get the Archive online, it will prove to be an exciting process with all 3 institutions contributing to the blog.  Follow us, and keep up to date with all the latest news from the project.