Stewart Bale Ltd

Family run photographic practice for commercial and industrial photography, Liverpool, England

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 considered to be of a high standard and the firm was regarded as one of the best amongst its contemporaries. The subject matter of its photographs is broad but is particularly strong on architecture, shipping (launches and fit-outs), shops, industry and transport. Its photographs provide a social history record, primarily of Liverpool and the North West but also nationally due to Bale’s extensive client base.

The founder, Herbert Stewart Bale (1859-1929) came to Liverpool from Australia in 1899 and started an advertising agency. He found that it was hard to get good photographs and his son, Edward Stewart Bale (1889 - 1944), began to take photographs for the agency.

The Stewart Bale archive at the Merseyside Maritime Museum's 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.
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