An Age Of Confidence

Photographs by Bedford Lemere & Co

A collection of photographs that give a deep insight into a vanished world opens at Sudley House from 20 July 2012 to 30 June 2013.

An Age of Confidence: Photographs by Bedford Lemere & Co features 24 fascinating framed images.

A century ago Britain led the world with booming industries, powerful commercial links and a supreme navy – all reflected in the remarkable photographs of Bedford Lemere & Co. 

Liverpool was the second city of the British Empire and its bustling docks, crowded offices and noisy factories closely echoed London and other ports and cities.

London–based Bedford Lemere & Co was the leading architectural photography company in England for 50 years. Its clients included many of the top architects, designers, industrialists and retailers of the day.

The wealth of late Victorian and Edwardian Liverpool often brought the company’s photographers to Merseyside – it was the firm’s second-most photographed location.

Bedford Lemere, who established his company in 1861, and his son Harry were outstanding technical photographers. They and their small team produced images of exceptional quality, depth and sharpness with large glass plate negatives.

They were innovative and pioneered a new photographic genre by exploiting the market for images of new buildings reflecting their high quality of construction and design.

All the images in the exhibition are from the Bedford Lemere & Co Collection held in the public archive of English Heritage.

Sandra Penketh, Director of Art Galleries, says:

“These brilliant photographs demonstrate clearly how the reputation of the company rested above all on the quality of its work. They have a depth and clarity which invites the viewer to enter.”  

Bedford Lemere & Co’s photographs reflect the air of confidence that permeated most sections of British society – rich and poor, young and old. Nothing seemed impossible and the buildings and structures of the period reflected that sense of certainty.

Highlights include: 

  • The Arcade, 81- 89 Lord Street, Liverpool (1901): Designed by the Birkenhead-born architect Walter Aubrey Thomas who also designed the Royal Liver Building. The Arcade comprised  street-front offices and shops with an ornately-decorated shopping arcade behind.
  • Trading Hall, Liverpool Cotton Exchange, Old Hall Street, Liverpool, (1907): The Cotton Exchange was built in 1906 to the designs of Matear and Simon, who also commissioned this photograph. The surviving part of the building is now used as offices.
  • Portrait of architect R Frank Atkinson and his family (1912):  Taken around the time the Atkinson-designed house Redcot was photographed by Bedford Lemere & Co at Blundellsands, Liverpool.
  • The orchestra at the Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool (1914):   In this photograph of the hotel’s resident orchestra, the conductor - Señor José Gomez - is distinguished by his baton, white waistcoat and tie. Señor Gomez commissioned this photograph during Harry Lemere’s visit.
  • White Star liner Olympic – sister of Titanic - looking aft (1920): The White Star Line originated in Liverpool and was re-established by Thomas Ismay in 1867. A partnership was struck with the Belfast shipbuilders Harland and Wolff, who built the Olympic class lines to rival those of White Star’s competitor Cunard.  

More information on

The exhibition is organised in collaboration with English Heritage


Notes for editors

About National Museums Liverpool

National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic.

We attract more than three million visitors every year. Our venues are Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, Walker Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, UK Border Agency National Museum, Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery. 

Sudley House contains the UK’s only Victorian merchant’s art collection in its original domestic setting.  Highlights include paintings by Landseer and Turner, major Pre-Raphaelite works and a group of 18th-century portraits by Gainsborough, Reynolds, Romney and Leighton.



About English Heritage

English Heritage has the largest publicly accessible archive in Britain dedicated to the historic environment, with an unparalleled collection of images, old and new. It includes more than 12 million photographs and other archive items relating to England’s historic buildings and archaeology.                   

English Heritage is undertaking a major project to conserve, catalogue and scan the Bedford Lemere & Co collection of negatives, with the aim of making the images accessible on the internet. Over 8,000 can already be seen, free of charge, at:         

Over two million photographs and records can be viewed online. Users can also contact English Heritage’s Archive Research Service at or visit our Public Search Room and Library in Swindon.

Please contact: Laura Johnson in the press office for more information on this release.