Saturday was spent in the riotous company of two Liverpool girls, Barbara and June (of London fame), who know how to show us the town.
This pair is an offshoot of the wonderful Lambert Tours organization headquartered in London, run like clockwork by the oh-so-knowledgeable Alan. While he is sorely missed, his team did an excellent job of identifying those special places that would tickle our tourist fancies.
We began with tea at the School for the Blind, such an obvious place to stop for a cuppa.
It was then on to a National Trust site, Burrell and Hardman’s Photography Studio. From the 1920’s to the 60’s, this was where the discerning would come to have a studio portrait taken. It was run by Edward Fitzmaurice Chambré Hardman and his wife, former partner Burrell having left the scene in 1929. Margaret Hardman was also a gifted photographer, and they had a happy partnership. She died in 1970 and he in 1988, living in the same house/studio at 59 Rodney Street. It was crammed with a lifetime of equipment and photographs. Fortunately, a friend convinced Hardman to allow a trust to take over, and all was saved.
Today one sees the home and workplace as it was, greatly cleaned up and maintained, but clearly a special place in the history of Liverpool. While it flourished, the photographic business was extremely busy, a time capsule of a day when the studio prints might taken ten months to reach the sitter, and cost accordingly. Sitting for a portrait was a long process, and the results had to be spectacular.
The Hardman studio was a horde of photographic equipment from each era in which they worked. Evidently nothing was thrown away, so there is an entire history of evolution of photography here, along with the changing rooms and sets that their subjects experienced.
While their business centered on portraits, the Hardmans’ passion was landscape and outdoor photography, and they captured many moments in the Liverpool of their day. The most famous of these is called “Birth of the Ark Royal” (above),” a British aircraft carrier launched here in 1937.
Their personal life was confined to a few upstairs rooms, as their time and their passion was dedicated to their work. These have been very carefully and thoughtfully preserved.
What a special place this was, and how amazing that every piece of it has been lovingly saved. Thousands of plates, negatives and prints are being cataloged and safely stored in the Liverpool library, and the evidence of a life devoted to the art of the photograph is still here for the era of the selfie stick to enjoy.
We visited Barbara’s lovely cottage in Formby, which certainly gets points for charm. And the art scene continue, with our trip to the “Iron Men,” Sir Anthony Gormley’s installation of 100 figures standing on the beach at Crosby. Different at every time of the day and tides, they were haunting and beautiful. We saw some looming over buildings in New York recently. Maybe they were looking toward their Liverpool brethren.
Don’s Food Corner
Knowing our food weaknesses, Barbara, ably assisted by June, laid out a lovely tea for us in Formby. Who could resist ham, salmon, eggs, prawns, beetroot, coleslaw, loads of butter, salad, cheeses, crackers, scones, jam, cream, trifle, fresh strawberries, all on one groaning table? Not us. In the spirit of good guests, we showed our appreciation by licking most of the platters clean, just so Barbara wouldn’t be burdened with dishwashing.
It was the least we could do.