Stewart Bale collection

Elevated view of Victoria monument with the remains of bombed buildings surrounding it, from just after the Liverpool blitz

Stewart Bale Ltd was a family run photographic practice specialising in commercial and industrial photography, based in Liverpool from c1911 to c1980, with an additional London studio, 1949 to 1970. The quality of Stewart Bale Ltd’s photography is high and the firm was regarded as one of the best amongst its contemporaries. The subject matter is broad but is particularly strong on architecture, shipping (launches and fit-outs), shops, industry and transport; it provides an excellent social history record, primarily of Liverpool and the North West but also nationally due to Bale’s extensive client base, making it a collection of national relevance and importance.

The Stewart Bale collection, which is part of the Maritime Archives and Library, holds some 195,445 negatives (62,845 glass negatives & 132,600 film negatives) principally dating from around 1924 to early the 1980s. The film negatives are currently in frozen storage in order to preserve them and are, therefore, inaccessible. National Museums Liverpool is hoping to digitize this collection with external funding so that it becomes fully accessible and is in the process of planning this project.

The Stewart Bale glass plate negatives are stored at our reserve store. Due to the nature of the collection and lack of documentation we regret that we can usually only provide images from existing scans, and these are subject to copyright restrictions. A selection of the images from the collection can be viewed on this website. If you would like to find out more about the collection please contact Anne Gleave by phone on 0151 478 4487 or send Anne Gleave an email. For a fuller profile of the collection please view our Stewart Bale Ltd information sheet.

Online exhibitions

A series of Stewart Bale online exhibitions has been added to the website to highlight the breadth of its subject matter, covering the following themes:

Stewart Bale 2.0 - documenting Liverpool

In 2006 we invited amateur and professional photographers who use the web service Flickr to recreate Stewart Bale photographs from our collection. Each of the photographers was given a seven day deadline to photograph their subject. In the resulting online exhibition, Stewart Bale 2.0 - documenting Liverpool you can see the original photographs from the Stewart Bale archive alongside the modern versions of the same scenes.

Previous exhibitions at National Museums Liverpool

There have been a number of exhibitions of Stewart Bale photographs held at our venues, including:

Photographs from the Stewart Bale archive have also been used to provide context for a number of local history exhibitions, including: