Stewart Bale Ltd Photographic Archive



Stewart Bale Ltd. was a family run photographic practice specializing in commercial, architectural and industrial photography. It was based in Liverpool from c. 1911 until the early 1980s, with an additional studio in London from 1949 to 1970.The firm’s reputation ensured that it secured significant commissions and as a result has left a visual legacy of Liverpool’s built environment and industrial, commercial history during a major period of social change and development. This legacy is extended nationally, with particular emphasis across the North West, due to Stewart Bale’s wide geographic client base. The range of subject matter is varied but particularly well represented is shipping (including shipbuilding, launches and fitting-out); docks and cargo handling; engineering, including the construction of both the Queensway and Kingsway Mersey tunnels; architecture, including the construction of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral; industry, including factory interiors; transport; commerce, including shop windows and interiors; social history and World War II bomb damage. Most of the images were commissioned by businesses, often aiming to record their advancement towards what was then modern and new, reflecting new ideas and their realisation. Stewart Bale undertook aerial photography from c.1948 to 1980; some colour photography during the 1960s onwards and a series of non-commissioned work identified by 1613 prefix. The company used large format cameras for most of their existence creating photographs of stunning clarity and detail. National Museums Liverpool acquired the Stewart Bale Ltd. photographic archive in 1986. The collection consists of 195,445 negatives, predominately black and white; approximately one third of which are large glass plate negatives (12”x10”) and two thirds are film negatives (12”x10” and 10”x8”). There is a small quantity of smaller formats, some colour film and 4,000 mostly black and white prints. The images in the collection date from c.1924 to the very early 1980s. In addition to negatives and a select number of prints, the Stewart Bale Collection also includes the following original documentation and associated ephemera: Order books (Liverpool: 1913-1982. London: 1949-1970) Client registers for both London and Liverpool, indexed alphabetically, and listing date, negative number, client address and brief job description. The number of exposures taken are noted in the client registers only. One address book The Stewart Bale Silver Challenge Cup trophy (accession no. MMM.2011.43) Two volumes of negative registers covering the period 1976-2000. These correspond to when Stewart Bale Ltd. was taken over by John Thompson, who also incorporated the rival photographic firm, Robson & Baxter. One reprint negative register dated 1973-1975