old group photo of lots of people at a dance, some wearing party hats

British Insulated Callenders Cables PLC (BICC) staff party at New Brighton, October 1951

Christmas is the season of parties, particularly the 'works do'. Possibly unseen since its commission in 1951, this photograph from the Stewart Bale photographic collection records one of the many parties that British Insulated Callenders Cables organized for their employees and that the firm of Stewart Bale Ltd photographed.  

Although the photograph depicts a party during a month or so prior to Christmas, it captures the crowded attendance that such popular gatherings commanded. The image is taken from an elevated perspective engendering a sea of up-turned faces, most focusing on the camera, crammed together in their finery, the majority smiling, topped here and there with the odd silly party hat (why aren’t there more?) Faces cover the entire glass negative and it makes compulsive viewing, moving from individual to individual, contemplating their lives and personalities.  

Fashion is another interesting feature of this photograph, as is the case with many Bale images, particularly as at this period the clothes of young people was virtually indistinguishable from those of their parents; it was later in the 1950s that teenagers began to express their individuality in what they chose to wear.

BICC was a significant employer in the North West; as their name suggests they produced and supplied cable amongst other things (for further information and details of the BICC collection please see our online information sheet). 

A set of client registers form part of the original Bale documentation that National Museums Liverpool hold and BICC was the only client to have a dedicated register; a mark of the importance of the company and its significance as a client to Stewart Bale Ltd. This image represents the Christmas party spirit of coming together and socializing, having fun; especially poignant in 1951 in the new era of post-war Britain.

Commissioned by BICC, Prescot

Stewart Bale photographic collection, negative number 51745