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Look Back / Leap Forward

A Photographic History of Britain at Work

This epic collection of photographs documenting Britain at work reminds us of our collective power and gives us hope for the future.
Britain is changing. Don’t panic! Let’s talk. Who were we? Who are we? Who do we want to be? Look back. Leap forward.
We can hardly remember what it was like to be a manufacturing nation. Work has changed so much, so fast. We may well be facing a future where work no longer exists at all in the way we remember it. That is why this brilliant collection of photographs, compiled from the Mirror archives and curated by Carpet Bombing Culture is so fascinating, and so relevant.

This was Britain at work

We used to make stuff on an epic scale. Life was harder, but together we achieved incredible things. We built the modern world. We were always a big family, welcoming workers from around the globe. We built the best national health service ever known. We even invented the weekend! Let’s celebrate the things in our past that we can all be proud of.

But this is not just a history book. This is a book about our shared future. Work is changing

Don’t panic! What do we want work to become? How can we give today’s teenagers a story to be proud of, a sense of purpose? What will the next 100 years look like? Let’s use these images to start a new conversation about work. Let’s look back to leap forward. We used to make stuff. Could we make stuff again? Should we?

This is that moment, after a big family argument, when we all come together to make peace. We want to start conversations. We want to ask questions. We want to feel our way to a new idea of Britain. Save what needs saving. Leave behind what needs leaving behind. Yes, we have decisions to make. Let’s make them bold and hopeful. Carry on!