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Visitor looking at a Mediatheque screen at LMA

​A visitor looks at a Mediatheque screen at LMA

  • Film

    ​Skating at Battersea Park, 1958

  • Maps
    ward map

    ​Map of Farringdon Within Ward, 1720

What is a Mediatheque?

The “Mediatheque concept” developed in the 1980s, when broadcast material (audio and video recordings) was finally recognised as an important cultural testimony, in the same way as archives. Today, there are numerous Mediatheque(s) across the UK and Western Europe. In the UK, for instance, the British Film Institute (BFI) has its own Mediatheque (based in London's Southbank) providing access to a series of film and TV collections spanning over nine decades.

Mediatheque at LMA

Inspired by such Mediatheque(s), LMA decided to develop a space for ‘on demand’ access to its films but with added applications, including access to its extensive photographic series and varied collection of maps and plans.  While our image database Collage has been available online for several years, we felt that it was important to provide a point of focus for researchers who want access to all of our sources on the visual history of the capital. 

The Mediatheque space is divided into three defined sections. The first of these sections affords the visitor (or group) an opportunity to enjoy a film on the big screen, using wireless headphones for added comfort and practicality. The second opens up the film archive and digital image collections for personal research via 10 individual terminals. The third and final supports the examination of a range of large maps, each documenting the geographical landscape of London over six centuries.

Reference material is also available, including a small library of books and a series of catalogue listings that detail which collections at LMA hold similar material.

Photographs, Prints and Drawings


Throughout the collections at LMA, there exists a range of photographic content in either printed, negative or slide format. One of the largest collections available to view is the London County Council (LCC) / Greater London Council (GLC) collection which was recently digitised as part of a government-led scheme entitled "New Deal of the Mind". This collection alone holds over 300,000 photographs depicting all aspects of London life and documenting over 100 years of metropolitan activity in the capital.

To support these collections in Mediatheque, selected access is available either via Collage or via a number of catalogue listings. Material is regularly added to Collage, as we complete the catalogue.

Prints and Drawings

With over 95,000 prints and drawings at LMA, we hold one of the largest collections of London-based visual material in the UK. Ranging from lithographs and watercolours to engravings and etchings, our collections document centuries of social, economic and political London history.

Highlights include work by:

  • William Hogarth (1697-1764)
  • Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827)
  • Geoffrey Fletcher (1923-2004)
  • George Frederick Sargent (1811-1864)
  • George Cruikshank (1792-1878)

Within Mediatheque, access to a selection of these prints and drawings is available via either Collage or can ordered via our online catalogue.

Maps, Plans and Panoramas

The map collections held at LMA are a combination of those originally found at Guildhall Library (GL), and those acquired by the Greater London Council (GLC). In particlular, those forming the GL collections include works either gifted or purchased over a period of more than century, while those forming the GLC collections include works inherited by its predecessors, the Metropolitan Board of Works and a bequest, by Henry Harben, in 1912. LMA continues to develop these collections and at present, holds over 65,000 maps including Ordnance Survey, Parish and Ward.

Highlights include:

  • "Panorama of London", by C.J. Visscher (c.1616)
  • "Civitas Londinium" attributed to Ralph Agas (ed. published c.1633, documenting London in 1561)
  • "General Views of London", by Wenceslaus Hollar (c.1657) 
  • "Insurance Plan of the City of London", by Charles E.Goad Ltd (c.1880s)
  • "Facsimiles of Ordnance Surveys", by Alan Godfrey (range 1865-1913)
  • "Bomb Damage Maps", by London County Council (c.1940s) 

Within Mediatheque, access to a selection of these maps is available via either a reference copy, Collage or our interactive resource Magnifying the metropolis


​The films available to view each explore different aspects of London life – its architecture, people, open spaces and even civic administration. With the earliest dating back to the 1920s, these films showcase events such as the Lord Mayor’s Show, people such as Charles Dickens and Florence Nightingale, and engineering feats such as the Barbican (re-developed following the devastation of the Blitz) and Hammersmith Flyover. Each provide a fascinating insight into the historical, social and economic issues that tested centuries of urban life in the capital and which ultimately culminated in the London we know today.


Some of the strangest and most interesting screenings available to view, have come courtesy of a collection of educational videos made by the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) during the late 1960s through to the early 1980s. ILEA would make and broadcast educational programmes for the schools under its authority, and then transmit between 10 am and 7.30 pm to accommodate all school timetables. They used a converted school in Battersea to facilitate studios, rehearsal spaces and post production units, and would involve children and teachers from the inner London schools in the staging, camera work, and performing of the programmes so that they maintained relevance with the target audience. The first transmission took place on 16 September 1969 and the Television Service ran until 1977, when ILEA was forced to re-think its direct broadcasting of the programmes due to rising cable network costs. They continued to produce the programmes but began to distribute them on video cassette, and schools invested in new VHS equipment to facilitate these changes. Those schools within the inner London area were able to buy or rent the films to show in their classrooms, and the videos were also distributed to schools across the country at a higher charge.

Following the disbanding of Greater London Council (GLC) in 1986 the records of the ILEA, along with other council documents and material administered by the GLC, was deposited at The Greater London Records Office (now the LMA), and this collection forms the basis of the archive records still held here. The Battersea studios were eventually bought out by its employees in 1990 and the remaining material produced by the Authority has been deposited alongside the GLC collection at LMA.

Find us on YouTube and start exploring our film collection now.