E. Chambré Hardman

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Edward Fitzmaurice Chambré Hardman
Chambré Hardman.jpg
Edward Chambré Hardman wearing his trademark trilby hat.
Born 1898
Foxrock, Dublin, Ireland
Died 2 April 1988 (aged 89–90)
Sefton, Liverpool, England
Nationality Irish
Other names Chambré Hardman
Occupation photographer
Known for photography

Edward Fitzmaurice Chambré Hardman (1898 – 2 April 1988[1]) was an Irish photographer, based for most of his career in Liverpool, England.


Early life[edit]

E. Chambré Hardman was born in 1898 in Dublin, Ireland. 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.

From the age of eighteen, he spent four years as a regular officer in the 8th Gurkha Rifles in India where he would eventually be promoted to lieutenant. While on active duty at the foothills of the Himalayas, he found time for photography using his Eastman Kodak No. 3 Special camera and processed rolls of film in his bathroom.[2]

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 & Hardman acquired 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 the it gained a reputation for being the place for anyone with distinction in Merseyside to be photographed by Burrell & Hardman.

1920s and 1930s[edit]

In 1926 Chambré Hardman appointed seventeen-year-old Margaret Mills as his assistant. At first, she would look 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.

The 1930s was a prolific period for Hardman's landscape photography, he said that "Most of my childish dreams were of landscapes; usually of some remote and spectacularly sired lake, which I could never find again."

In 1930, not long after Hardman and Margaret discussed starting a portrait business together, Margaret wrote to say she'd fallen in love with 'Tony'. Hardman's response was that she was too young and "that kind of love doesn't last". Hardman confessed to a friend that he'd ".. been a fool. I should have married her long ago but I had no money". Hardman didn't give up, however, and sent a message of his love for Margaret, by cable, from Barcelona. In May 1931, Margaret broke off her engagement to Tony.

On 10 August 1932 Hardman married Margaret, he aged 33 and she 23, and they rented a flat at 59 Hope Street, Liverpool. They worked long hours at the studio, but still found time for weekend expeditions, strapping camera equipment onto their bicycles and riding out into the countryside to shoot landscapes. In the same year 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.

Hardman was elected a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society[when?] and took many landscape photographs in Scotland, as well as a notable portrait of prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn. In 1938 Hardman took over the lease of a second portrait studio based in Chester.

War years and 1950s[edit]

During the war years business seemed to thrive, although because of this Hardman's landscape photography suffered as he had no spare time. During the Second World War there was a black market in films, but Hardman took care not to get involved. His business thrived during the war because of the number of servicemen wanting a family picture to take with them when posted abroad, or a picture of themselves to leave with their family. In 1941 the Hardmans moved to Barnston on the Wirral. There they stayed for seven years, until the Bold Street studio lease expired. The Hardmans then moved to larger premises at 59 Rodney Street. This became their new studio and also their home for the rest of their lives.

In 1950 Hardman took what was to become "the most reproduced photograph illustrating and era of Liverpool's commerce": Birth of the Ark Royal.[3] By 1953, however, it seemed that the business was in uncertain times, and there is evidence of Hardman applying for other jobs including, work at the Bluecoat Society of Arts and at Kodak. In the same year Kenneth Burrell died, aged 60. In 1958 Hardman suffered further loss with the death of his own mother and the lease on the Chester studio also ended.

Later life[edit]

In 1965/6 Hardman officially retired, but did continue to work by taking portraits for small commissions and even taking evening classes for the Army. He also continued with some landscape photography, but employed only part-time staff as the fashion for formal photography was in decline. The contents of his house suffered increasing neglect, along with several pipe-bursts, causing chaos in many rooms in the property.

In 1969 Margaret took the well-known photograph of Chambré Hardman behind his Rolleiflex camera, in collar and tie, and distinctive trilby hat. A year later Margaret died. Hardman not only lost his wife, but his business partner, photographic companion and very skilful darkroom printer. Following her death, Hardman himself declined, so much so that he came to the attention of Liverpool's Social Services department. He became a recluse and worked less, but did continue to send exhibition prints to the London Salon.

In March 1975 an exhibition of Hardman's work entitled "Fifty Years of Photography" was displayed at the University of Liverpool. A year later Lancashire Life magazine featured an article and profile of Hardman, in which he was described as selling negatives from his collection to Liverpool's local history archive. Liverpool Daily Post had recorded "140,000 negs. from 1925 handed over to Central Library".

By 1979 Hardman made few excursions out of his home and found increasing difficulty in walking and suffering a fall. When Peter Hagerty, director of Liverpool's Open Eye Gallery, visited him he said of the experience:

"...this frail old man came down the stairs, there were four or five people from social services tidying up; they had gowns on and were filling bin bags with rubbish. I started looking in the bags and saw photographs and negatives and magazines; I was instantly aware that a historical record was being thrown away: he had made no provision for anything. He didn't think about dying. He had money but would not buy a home help. He'd rely on home help and then complain."[citation needed]

Hardman accepted Hagerty's suggestion that he should set up a trust, subsequently deciding to bequeath the bulk of his estate. Exhibitions and articles of Hardman's work continued to be presented throughout the 1980s and he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society. Throughout the decade exhibitions of Hardman's work continued, while he suffered long stays in hospital.

On 2 April 1988, Hardman died at Sefton General Hospital in Liverpool. His house and studio, at 59 Rodney Street, was taken over by the E. Chambré Hardman Trust to conserve his work, which was later transferred to the National Trust.

Notable works[edit]

Famous photographs by E. Chambre Hardman include:

  • A Memory of Avignon, 1923
  • The Copse, 1934
  • The Birth of the Ark Royal, 1950


  1. ^ Harker, Margaret; Colin Ford. E. Chambré Hardman: Photographs 1921 – 1972. Liverpool, England: National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside (July 1994). ISBN 0-906367-72-7. 
  2. ^ "E. Chambré Hardman Archive: India Gallery" at mersey-gateway.org
  3. ^ Hagerty, p106

Further reading[edit]

  • Chambre Hardman: Photographs 1921–1972, 1994, National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside.
  • Liverpool Through the Lens: Photography of Edward Chambre Hardman, 2007, National Trust Books.

External links[edit]