British photographic history

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I am trying to identify the photographer responsible for a group of pictures in an album dating to the 1860s. They are Exterior and interior views of Russborough House in Ireland. They are likely to have been made by Blake and Edgar of 32 Midland Rd. Bedford as a series of the same images exists in a much smaller format which bears their stamp. They may only be reduced copies made by B&E and the large 10X12 inch prints and album are not identified in any way.

Does anyone know whether the B&E negatives have been preserved?

Any information would be most helpful.

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Comment by David H Davison on October 3, 2018 at 20:54

Thank you Stuart, Your reply has been most helpful and I appreciate the help given by Pamela Birch

Comment by Stuart Welch on October 1, 2018 at 18:29
I contacted Pamela Birch the Conservator at Bedfordshire Archive Service to see if she could help you and she kindly sent me the following answer:

Hello Stuart,

No, I don't subscribe to this forum and unfortunately I don't think I can be of help either. As far as we are aware the negatives of Blake & Edgar do not survive - we would be very interested to know if they did!

Our only information is that William Blake moved to Bedford in 1866 to be manager of George Downes business in Harpur Street. William was only about 20 at the time so I doubt he could have been taking photos in Ireland before that. George Downes was from Suffolk so he doesn't seem very likely either.

Blake's wife, Annie, was also a photographer. Blake & Edgar photographers business began at 32, later renumbered 74, Midland Road in 1871. The rate book for July gives William Blake and Arthur Edgar as the prospective occupiers but it is unclear who Arthur Edgar was. Wm & Annie had at least 5 daughters and 2 sons. The sons William Norman born c1871 and Ernest Edgar born 1879 also made their names in the profession. Willie 'Norman' assisted his father and continued to manage the business after his father's death in 1912. He died in 1932. Ernest became general manager of Kodak in 1911 and Chairman of Kodak UK from 1946. He died in 1961. Blake & Edgar moved to 38 and 40 High Street in 1897.


I hope this might help.
Stuart Welch
Conservation By Design Limited
Timecare Works
Wolesley Road,

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