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Edward Fitzmaurice Chambré Hardman

As both a local history columnist and a photographer I was doubly delighted to be invited by the National Trust to view the former home of photographer Edward Fitzmaurice Chambré Hardman and his wife Margaret. The Hardman House collection is part of the National Trust Liverpool portfolio. The significance of 59 Rodney Street lies in the survival of the whole: the photography collection, the working studio, the original darkrooms with all the equipment still in place, the business records and the living quarters where the photographer Edward Chambré Hardman and his wife and business partner, Margaret, lived for over 40 years, complete with all the vintage ephemera of their daily life.  Altogether, The Hardmans’ House is the most complete collection of a photographer’s work anywhere.

Edward Fitzmaurice Chambré Hardman was an Irish-born photographer, based for most of his career in Liverpool. Born in 1898 in Dublin, Ireland he was the only son of the keen amateur photographer Edward Hardman, E. Chambré Hardman took his first photographs aged nine and went on to win many photographic competitions during his time at St. Columba's College in County Dublin. Whilst stationed at the Khyber Pass he met Captain Kenneth Burrell, a man who hadn't planned on an army career but rather hoped to set up a photographic studio back home in Liverpool, England. Hardman and Burrell decided to go into business together and in 1923, Burrell and Hardman acquired their first studio, 51a Bold Street in Liverpool's fashionable commercial centre. 

Starting the business was difficult, and Hardman resorted to selling and repairing wirelesses to subsidise the studio. Eventually it gained a reputation for being the place for anyone with distinction in Merseyside to be photographed by Burrell & Hardman.

1920s and 1930s

In 1926 Chambré Hardman appointed seventeen year-old Margaret Mills as his assistant. At first, she looked after the studio in Hardman's absence when he was in the South of France that year. In 1929 Margaret left the studio to train as a photographer in Paisley, Scotland. Margaret and Hardman kept in touch through frequent affectionate letters. In the same year Kenneth Burrell left the business entirely to Hardman. In 1930 Hardman was awarded 1st prize in the American Annual of Photography and a gold medal in London for his picture "Martigues" taken whilst in Martigues, France in 1926. While portraiture was Hardman's livelihood, his real photographic interest was landscape photography, which he pursued throughout his life alongside his commercial practice.

On 10 August 1932 Hardman married Margaret, he was 33 and she was 23, and . Hardman and his talented wife and kindred spirit Margaret Hardman lived in 59 Rodney Street for 40 years from 1948. 
Although they worked long hours at the studio, they still found time for weekend expeditions, strapping camera equipment onto their bicycles and riding out into the countryside to shoot landscapes. 

Hardman won a contract with the Liverpool Playhouse theatre to provide portraits and production shots of actors. These included Ivor Novello, Patricia Routledge and Robert Donat.

The National Trust have restored the house and the photographic studio retaining and putting on display the original articles that were in the house.

Liverpool was a constant source of inspiration to Hardman and he loved to explore the many sights and streets of the city capturing them on film. What follows is a selection of some of his wonderful photography
Edward Chambre Hardman, Searchlight
on the Anglican Cathedral

Central Station 1960s

The Overhead Railway

On the Mersey this time in a photograph entitled 'Schoolboys on the Ferry

Water Street and Dale Street

Photography was Edward Chambré Hardmans life’s work and he died on 2nd April 1988, at Sefton General Hospital in Liverpool. His legacy was his house and studio, at 59 Rodney Street, they were taken over by the E. Chambré Hardman Trust to conserve his work, which was later transferred to the National Trust.Photography.

Lizzie Johansson-Hartley; the Custodian of The Hardmans’ House took time out to show me around the home of this amazing photographer and I would recommend the tour to anyone with an interest in local history, photography or anyone with a sense of nostalgia.

The mounting room

You can step back in time and take a tour of the entire property and original photography of Edward Chambré Hardman. From the waiting room to the studio, the kitchen to the bedroom and the darkrooms to the exhibition rooms, there's so much to see during a ninety minute tour. 

Living Room



The National Trust has a wonderful new portfolio of tours including walking tours. These include a Georgian Quarter tour and a Then and now tour exploring buildings photographed by Chambré Hardman there is also a photography tour and another focused on the life of Margaret Hardman a great business woman and photographer.

As The Hardmans' House is small yet perfectly formed they offer pre-booked timed tours to ensure you get the most out of your visit. They are currently accepting bookings for the whole season, so if you would like to visit please call 0151 709 6261 or email thehardmanshouse@nationaltrust.org.uk to book a tour. Click on the link below to read some useful pre-visit information. 

All color photographs are © copyright Bob Edwards - Picture Liverpool 
Black and white images © copyright National Trust


By Robert F Edward
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