Looking into the Past

Vincent Murphy has been on an Internship with us at Bradford Industrial Museum organised in conjunction with the University of Bolton and has written us a blog about some of his experiences.

He writes:
What a great opportunity I had when I was invited to spend time in the Bradford Industrial Museum looking at the collection of photographs they had of the Belle Vue Studio that was operational in Bradford between 1902 and 1975.

My first visit was as part of my student class trip where we were shown various photographic collections behind the scenes in the museum archives. We were also taught how to date photographs by using clues from the photograph itself to give more information about where and when it was taken. The University of Bolton in collaboration with Bradford Industrial Museum also supported the students on a task to go out on the day around Bradford and capture everyday life.


Bradford - Love One Another by Vincent Murphy
Bradford – Love One Another by Vincent Murphy

At the end of the project the museum chose a selection of images that represented Bradford today. I was really pleased that my images were amongst those accepted to be exhibited and placed into the archives at the museum.

Needless to say, when I was chosen with two other students to do a short Internship at the museum I was really looking forward to it!

My second visit helped me appreciate the importance of preserving local history and how well this museum had built archives around the rich social history of Bradford.

I was based in the archive area where I saw some fantastic collections of photographic work representing the working and social life in Bradford.

I had the chance to work on the history of the Belle Vue Studio that was situated in Manning Lane,which had a photographic history picturing families from the new communities of South East Asia and the Caribbean countries that had just moved into Bradford.

Glass Photo Negative from Belle Vue Studio
Glass Photo Negative from Belle Vue Studio

I found it fascinating picking up one of the glass negatives and considering the history around that object.

They were all analogue negatives, which had captured the lighting that had been reflected from the actual person in the photograph, something that you don’t get with a digital image. It really felt like the person drew me into what was happening in the studio on that day in the past.

What made it even more exciting was that when I looked at the journals of the Belle Vue Studio I was able to get even more information about the name of the name of the person, where they had travelled from, what prints the person chose and how much was paid. Amazing!

I also explored various technical approaches to scanning and capturing the images so that this really valuable record of social history can be preserved.

If you are interested in the history of industry then this museum is well worth a visit. You may not get to go behind the scenes like I did, but there is a wealth of history, photographs and objects all showcasing the industrial past of Bradford always on display.

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