National Trust reopens Liverpool photographers’ 1950s 'time capsule' home and studio

By Danni King

National Trust is reopening a Liverpool photographers' 1950s home and studio for visitors.

The Hardmans' House on Rodney Street has been closed since March 2020, but will be reopening later this month for a limited period of time.

The hidden gem is one of four properties in Liverpool owned by the National Trust, which has cared for the home in order to preserve it as a 1950s 'time capsule'.

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A terraced Georgian house, the property was home to Edward Chambré Hardman and his wife Margaret between 1949 and 1988.

From the 1920s until 1960s, Edward was the leading portrait photographer in Liverpool. He worked with celebrities such including Ivor Novello, Margot Fonteyn, and Patricia Routledge.

Edward was known for his portraits of celebrities, as well as photographs of the British landscape and of Liverpool's transformation. Margaret was also a photographer in her own right, and managed the couple's successful business.

In 1988, Edward passed away and in 2003 the Rodney Street property including the couple's huge archive of photographs and records was acquired by the National Trust.

59 Rodney Street comprises of four flours, each filled with photography and studio equipment, as well as leftover items from their business and personal items.

The property will finally be reopened this month, with visitors able to take a guided tour of the Hardmans' home and studio.

The Kitchen at The Hardmans' House, 59 Rodney Street, Liverpool. (National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra)

The 45 minute tours allow visitors to explore three different floors inside the property, including the couple's photography studio, dark room, and their living space.

Michelle Yunqué Alvarado, collections and house manager at the National Trust, said: "After having to close last year due to the pandemic, we’re delighted to finally be welcoming back visitors to explore this hidden gem in Liverpool.

“The Hardmans were a fascinating couple and not only are their photographs a valuable record of mid-20th century life in Britain, but their home is a must-see experience in its own right.

“Many people from Liverpool and beyond came here to have their portrait taken by Mr Hardman, and those portraits might still be hanging on their children’s or grandchildren’s walls today. For some people, a visit to the Hardmans’ House is a personal journey. For most people, it’s a chance to truly step back in time to when photography was a rare art form.”

Alongside the reopening, a new exhibition 'Agency of Women' has also been introduced. Created by artist-in-residence Tabitha Jussa, Agency of Women features a selection of portraits of 17 different women from Liverpool's arts and culture scene.

The portraits were taken earlier this year in the Hardmans' studio, with Tabitha taking inspiration from Margaret Hardman's work.

Also on display will be a new collection of Edward's photographs, including 'Birth of the Ark Royal'. The photograph is one of his most famous pieces of work, and features a boy walking down Holt Hill in Birkenhead, with a new HMS Ark Royal visible in the distance.

The National Trust has also been working on a project which aims to catalogue, conserve, and digitise the items included in the E. Chambré Hardman Photographic Collection. The collection is the archive of the Hardmans' work, and is stored at the Record Office at Liverpool Central Library.

Guided tours of 59 Rodney Street will be available every Friday and Saturday, from September 17 until November 6. Spaces are limited, so organisers recommend booking tickets online to secure a place.

Tickets can be booked online here. To find out more about the National Trust's project, click here.

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