Hidden archives at the National Trust’s Hardmans’ House to be revealed 

The National Trust’s Hardmans’ House – often considered to be one of Liverpool’s hidden gems – is set to finally reveal a huge collection of unseen photographs after being awarded special funding by the National Archives in London.

Hidden away on Rodney Street in the city’s Georgian Quarter, the house was once the home and photographic studio of the one of the city’s most famous photographers, Edward Chambré Hardman. Well-known for his portraits of 1950s and 60s celebrities and iconic shots of post-war Liverpool, the photographer’s house has been preserved as a time capsule since it was acquired by the National Trust in 2003.

Since then, the many thousands of people who have visited the heritage attraction have fallen in love with its story, from the photographic studio filled with original props to the kitchen brimming with perfectly preserved items of 1950s domestic life.

Kept away from visitor’s eyes, however, is the Edward Chambré Hardman Photographic Archive. It contains over 140,000 photographic prints and negatives dating from the 1920s to 1970s, business records and personal papers, and has been stored securely in the Liverpool Records Office

Now, thanks to this new funding, the National Trust property is launching a new two-year project to explore the archive and make it more widely accessible to both the public and researchers alike. It will be shared through exhibitions, community engagement activities and online, as well as become available for local and family history study.

The project will be delivered in partnership with the Liverpool Records Office and has been primarily funded by the National Trust and the Archives Revealed programme, which is supported by The National Archives, The Pilgrim Trust and the Wolfson Foundation.

“Photography is an exceptionally accessible medium, without barriers to language or culture,” said Andrew Morrison, the National Trust’s Lead Curator and project sponsor. “We think Hardman’s work will be relevant and interesting to many people, including new audiences who will be able to use his photographs as an entry point to exploring their own links with the past.”

“We are so grateful to Archives Revealed and the National Trust for this funding which will enable us to finally catalogue and conserve this important collection and start sharing its secrets with a wider audience.”

Recruitment for an Archivist and Digitisation Conservator will shortly be going live and anyone with significant experience in these areas are encouraged to keep an eye on www.nationaltrustjobs.org.uk/jobs/ or follow @NTHardmansHouse on social media to apply.

While 80% of funding has been secured, the project still needs to raise £40,000 more to make it happen. For those who are interested in playing a part in revealing this historically and artistically significant collection, donations of all sizes can be made to the Hardmans Unpacked appeal online at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/appeal/hardman-unpacked-appeal or by contacting the property directly on 0151 709 6261.

 Members of the public can discover more about the story of the Hardmans by booking onto a guided tour of the property between Wednesday-Saturday, 11am-3.30pm. Time is off the essence to explore this time capsule of 1950s life though, as doors close on 26 October until it reopens for visitors again next spring.