We’ve all been on the tour of 59 Rodney Street, the former studio and home of the renowned local photographer E. Chambré Hardman. Between 1947 and 1988 the building was home to Edward Chambré Hardman and his wife Margaret. The house contains a selection of photographs, the studio where most were taken, the darkroom where they were developed and printed, the business records and the Hardman’s living quarters – complete with all the ephemera of post-war daily life.
The subject matter of the photographs – portraits of the people in Liverpool, their city and the landscapes of the surrounding countryside – provide a record of a more prosperous time when Liverpool was the gateway to the British Empire and the world. Parallel to this is the quality of Hardman’s work and his standing as a pictorial photographer.
59 Rodney St is the only example of an intact mid-20th century photographic studio open to the public in Britain. It has been restored by the National Trust.
When he died in 1988, Liverpool photographer Chambre Hardman left behind a legacy of over 200,000 negatives and photographs spanning his lifetime. A compulsive collector, Hardman never threw anything away so his house was full of thousands of items, almost untouched since before the World War II. Access to Hardman’s work was almost lost to the public forever when the trustees looking after the collection ran out of money. It was the joint efforts of The National Trust and Liverpool Council that have ensured his memory will live on. Hardman’s collection of prints and negatives are now being stored and conserved at the Liverpool Record Office, with some of his collection being on permanent display at his former home as a lasting tribute.