Beautiful award-winning photographs of historic Britain

·5-min read
Whiteford Point Lighthouse by Steve Liddiard; Sunkenkirk by Matthew Turner; and The Shambles by David Oxtaby
Whiteford Point Lighthouse by Steve Liddiard; Sunkenkirk by Matthew Turner; and The Shambles by David Oxtaby

The winners of the Historic Photographer of the Year Awards 2021 have been announced, with a slew of images of British landmarks honoured.

Both professional and amateur photographers were invited to enter the competition and submissions were judged on “originality, composition and technical proficiency” alongside the story behind the image and its historical impact. The British entries celebrated range from world-famous landmarks to little-visited corners of the country and include a surprisingly ethereal shot of Clifton Suspension Bridge and a sunlit Lake District stone circle.

Here we reveal the three major winners and highlight the most striking shortlisted images of Britain.

Three major winners

Whiteford Point Lighthouse, the Gower Peninsula, Wales

By Steve Liddiard

Whiteford Point Lighthouse by Steve Liddiard - Historic Photographer of the Year
Whiteford Point Lighthouse by Steve Liddiard - Historic Photographer of the Year

The overall winner of this year’s awards was Steve Liddiard, who claimed the top prize for his dramatic shot of the Gower Peninsula’s Whiteford Point Lighthouse. Explaining the history of his chosen subject, Mr Liddiard said: "The lighthouse was built in 1865 to a design by John Bowen, of Llanelli, to mark the shoals of Whiteford Point, replacing an earlier piled structure of 1854, of which nothing remains."

"It is the only wave-swept cast iron tower of this size in Britain," he added.

Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol

By Sam Binding

Clifton Suspension Bridge by Sam Binding - Historic Photographer of the Year
Clifton Suspension Bridge by Sam Binding - Historic Photographer of the Year

Sam Binding triumphed in the Historic England category, for his atmospheric view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, captured during a misty sunrise. Describing his inspiration, Bristol-based Mr Binding said that he often takes his dog for a walk at dawn around the city.

"The bridge acts as a gateway to the city, and mist adds a magic quality to an already stunning scene," he added.

Purton Hulks, Gloucestershire

By Iain McCallum

Purton Hulks by Iain McCallum - Historic Photographer of the Year
Purton Hulks by Iain McCallum - Historic Photographer of the Year

The Where History Happened category was won by Iain McCallum, who submitted an image of the skeletons of the Wastdale H and Arkendale H, the two tanker barges which tragically collided in heavy fog on River Severn in October 1960, killing five. Mr McCallum used a drone to capture a decaying dual shipwreck image that looks like it could have been taken in Namibia's Skeleton Coast rather than Gloucestershire.

Shortlisted images

The Shambles, York

By David Oxtaby

The Shambles York by David Oxtaby - Historic Photographer of the Year
The Shambles York by David Oxtaby - Historic Photographer of the Year

York’s most famous street is pictured empty but bathed in the warm glow of Christmas lights. The cobbled Shambles has long been thought to have been the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, though JK Rowling denied this last year, stating that she’s never visited the medieval street.

Sunkenkirk, Lake District

By Matthew Turner

Sunkenkirk by Matthew Turner - Historic Photographer of the Year
Sunkenkirk by Matthew Turner - Historic Photographer of the Year

Also known as Swinside Stone Circle, Sunkenkirk is a little-visited Lake District monument that dates from the Neolithic period. It contains 55 stones, despite a local belief which claims it is impossible to count them all. Photographer Matthew Turner said of his sunrise shot: “The morning sun rose over the distant hilly horizon and illuminated the stones perfectly, creating a very magical atmosphere.”

Battersea Power Station, London

By Pete Edmunds

Battersea Power Station by Pete Edmunds - Historic Photographer of the Year
Battersea Power Station by Pete Edmunds - Historic Photographer of the Year

This image captures the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station on a quiet weekend in March 2019. Explaining the shot, photographer Pete Edmunds said: “The thing that inspired me to photograph this rapidly shifting urban landscape is the cranes. An abundance of high-rise cranes dominates the skyline, all powered-down for the weekend and seemingly facing in the same direction. The cranes are asleep – but they seem to be taking over – like some kind of science fiction.”

St Michael's Tower, Glastonbury Tor

By Adam Burton

St Michael's Tower by Adam Burton - Historic Photographer of the Year
St Michael's Tower by Adam Burton - Historic Photographer of the Year

In contrast to the chaotic mud and music photographs usually associated with the word Glastonbury, this image of the town’s roofless tower and Tor has a serene quality. According to the photographer, the aerial shot was taken “at dawn on a chill winter morning.”

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland

By Scott Antcliffe

Bamburgh Castle by Scott Antcliffe - Historic Photographer of the Year
Bamburgh Castle by Scott Antcliffe - Historic Photographer of the Year

The sunrise jostles for attention with the imposing Bamburgh Castle in this image, which was nominated in the Where History Happened category. The coastal landmark, which dates back to the 11th century, has had many lives and was the first castle in England to fall to gunpowder in 1464 during the War of the Roses.

Reculver Towers, Kent

By Michael Marsh

Reculver Towers by Michael Marsh - Historic Photographer of the Year
Reculver Towers by Michael Marsh - Historic Photographer of the Year

The twin towers of the medieval church at the village of Reculver, near Herne Bay, are the focus of this moody coastal image. The towers were built in a 12th century remodelling of the Anglo-Saxon church, which was originally the site of one of the earliest Roman forts – some ruins remain nearby.

Hadrian's Wall, Northumberland

By Kayleigh Blair

Hadrian's Wall by Kayleigh Blair - Historic Photographer of the Year
Hadrian's Wall by Kayleigh Blair - Historic Photographer of the Year

This sunlit shot of Hadrian’s Wall was unsurprisingly nominated for the Where History Happened award. The 73-mile stretch marks what was the farthest reaches of perhaps the greatest empire the world has ever seen and cuts a path through some of the country's most spectacular landscapes. No wonder it has been photographed so often.

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