The Hardman House

or 59 Rodney Street

Edward Chambré Hardman was a renowned portrait photographer. The house he and his wife Margaret lived in for 40 years is a museum now. Almost all of the rooms are opened for public, the cluttered living quarters and the spacious business rooms.

He was born in 1898 in Ireland, the son of a amateur photographer. By the age of fourteen he won a few photographic competitions. During the time he served in India, he met Kenneth Burrell, who became his business partner on their return to England.

He was a perfectionist and his work was very appreciated. Due to his reputation he was commissioned by the Playhouse Theater to photograph the up and coming stars of the time. All the negatives were retouch before printing, eliminating any flaws. He had collaborations with different artists that worked from home and colored the photos by hand. The artists were using samples of hair and textile and a detailed description relating to complexion, eye color, and clothing.

Although his business revolved around portraits, his real love was the landscape photography. So, he would take advantage of every chance he got to go out in search for landscapes.

Margaret Mills started working as an assistant in 1926. In 1929 she worked at a studio in Paisley but kept in constant contact with Hardman in Liverpool, exchanging love letters. In the love letters she mentioned her other interests like fishing, golf, opera and dancing.

In 1932 she came back in Liverpool and they got married. In 1948 they moved to 59 Rodney Street, where they lived and worked for the rest of their lives. In some rooms there are descriptions made by the former staff and clients. It’s really interesting to hear them.

She played a vital role in the business. The guide told us about them, they use to bounce ideas and work together, sharing the same passions and concepts. She was making her own clothes, but she loved fashion and she had 2 full wardrobes.

I loved their story and it was so strange. When the guide was talking, hubby and I were both thinking we have a lot in commune with the Hardmans: we work together and we have a similar working relation, no kids and a dog, we love photography and so on. It was strange for us.

We didn’t take pictures, but you can see some on the National trust website and on the Mersey-gateway.

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