British photographic history

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E Chambré Hardman House conservation project and re-opening

A significant conservation project by the National Trust has saved around 16,000 photographic prints and negatives by renowned Liverpool photographer Edward Chambré Hardman and his wife Margaret, most of which have been hidden from public view for decades.

To mark World Photography Day on 19 August, the conservation charity has released images showing the extent of the work required to conserve some of the most at-risk items in the collection, which is the only known 20th-century collection where a photographer’s entire output has been preserved intact.

The collection spans five decades and includes subjects ranging from portraits of 1950s and 60s celebrities and Liverpool’s high society to British landscapes and iconic shots of post-war Liverpool, as well as business records and personal papers. Most of the collection is stored securely in the archives at Liverpool Record Office, who also own a portion of items belonging to the Hardmans.

Lindsey Sutton, archivist at the National Trust, said: “Edward Chambré Hardman rarely threw anything away, so the collection we have represents nearly the entirety of the life and work he and his wife Margaret built. The vast size of the collection, previous storage methods and a lack of resource in the past has meant much of it hasn’t had the attention it needed.”

As part of the project, around 4,600 photographic prints, negatives and paper records have also been digitised to make them accessible to the public for the first time. The National Trust will publish these online later this year.

A further 5,000 photographs, negatives and paper records have also been catalogued. They will now be accessible to researchers and the public to explore either online or in-person by appointment at the Liverpool Record Office.

Lindsey Sutton, archivist at the National Trust, said: “The Hardmans’ photographs were made to be seen, not hidden away from view. One of the most important aims of this project has been to make them more accessible for the public to enjoy.”

Throughout the process of cataloguing and conserving items in the collection, the project team were able to undertake a more thorough survey of what and how much it contained. Previous estimates had put the size of the total collection at around 140,000 items, however the National Trust now believe this number to be much larger, and potentially double that amount.

The Hardmans' House will reopen for guided tours on Fridays and Saturdays, 9 September – 29 October 2022. Tickets will be available to book two weeks in advance from Thursday 1 September here:

Read the full blog post here:


Here is a link to an article about the work being carried out  by the National Trust on the Hardman Archive. 

Roger Mead

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