British photographic history

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Pauline Heathcote Archive at Bromley House

Bromley House, a private members library in Nottingham City centre has an interesting photographic history. It was the home of one of the first commercial photographic studios in the country when Alfred Barber opened a daguerreotype studio in 1841 under licence from Richard Beard.

The late Pauline Heathcote carried out research into the photographers who were at Bromley House as well as Richard Beard. She also carried out research on a great many studios and photographers throughout the British Isles.

Samuel Bourne and Arthur Marshall were members of Bromley House Library. Although they did not use the studio they were important photographers in the history of photography and were thoroughly researched by Pauline.

Bernard Heathcote has donated his late wife's archive of research notes and photographs to Bromley House Library. The archive contents are listed at > About us > Our history > The Pauline Heathcote Archive.

Further information about the studio can be found at >About us > our history > The Photographic Studio.

The studio and dark room are open to the public on Wednesday afternoons, by appointment only. Please contact Eric Butler at

To access any part of the Pauline Heathcote archive email to make an appointment and complete a research booking form. I.D. will be required.


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Comment by Michael Pritchard on July 29, 2017 at 12:54

Alan -- you might want to take a look at this website which carries a lot of the work which R Derek Wood undertook on various aspects of early photography. Some of his papers deal with the court cases Beard was involved in and these discuss his licensing. Incidentally, I purchased a prospectus from Beard offering as licence for the county of Yorkshire. 

Comment by Eric Butler on July 26, 2017 at 22:12

Hi Allan,

I'm not really a researcher, I'm curator of the Pauline Heathcote Archive and very interested in the history of photography. If Thomas Sharp's in Bath studio opened only 5 weeks after Barber's studio in Nottingham I would have thought that the arrangements would have been similar. It was a few years later that the prices of daguerreotypes reduced. Perhaps Beard was feeling flush after taking Barber's initial payment!

If you like I can look through Pauline's Archive and forward copies of anything relevant to Sharp or Somerset if you let me have your email address. Mine is

Comment by Allan Collier on July 25, 2017 at 19:56
Hi Eric , I've just read Pauline Heathcotes essay on Bromley House , link below , I and two colleagues are researching Somerset Photographers , we have found evidence that Richard Beard at least paid the first instalments of rates on the purpose built studio which was operated by licensee Thomas Sharp , it was very revealing how much cost and work Barber was obliged to do , do you think the arrangement between Barber and Beard was typical with all his licensees ? regards Allan

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