National Trust's 'time capsule' Hardmans' House reopens in Liverpool

The studio at the National Trust Hardmans' House in Liverpool
The studio at the National Trust Hardmans' House in Liverpool Credit: Arnhel de Serra

The National Trust has reopened one of Liverpool's hidden gems after it was closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic.

Hardmans' House at 59 Rodney Street was the home and photographic studio of Edward Chambré Hardman and his wife Margaret between 1949 and 1988.

 All four floors of the property are still filled with cameras, studio equipment and other objects left over from their business, as well as the Hardmans’ personal items, including a kitchen stocked with decades-old food packaging and Margaret’s clothes and jewellery.

Irish-born Edward became the leading portrait photographer in Liverpool from the 1920s to the 1960s, taking portraits of many celebrities of the age including Ivor Novello, Margot Fonteyn and Patricia Routledge.

Margaret Hardman, who was an accomplished photographer in her own right, managed their successful business.

Hardmans' House, 59 Rodney Street Credit: ©National Trust Images Arnhel de Serra

Edward is also noted for his photographs of the British landscape and Liverpool’s mid-20th century transformation. After he passed away in 1988, the house and a vast archive of photographic prints, negatives and records were acquired by the National Trust in 2003. The house has opened on a seasonal basis for guided tours ever since.

 “After having to close last year due to the pandemic, we’re delighted to finally be welcoming back visitors to explore this hidden gem in Liverpool,” says Michelle Yunqué Alvarado, collections and house manager at the National Trust.

Visitors will be able to step inside the impressive Georgian house on Rodney Street as part of a guided tour.

The tours last 45 minutes and take visitors to explore three floors of the property including the photographic studio, dark room and the Hardmans’ own living quarters.

Visitors can also explore Agency of Women, a new contemporary art exhibition by artist-in-residence Tabitha Jussa.

It features a collection of black and white and hand coloured portraits of 17 women at the forefront of Liverpool’s arts and culture today, taken in the Hardmans’ studio early last year.

The kitchen at the Hardmans' House Credit: ©National Trust Images Arnhel de Serra

Jussa has been inspired by Margaret Hardman, the female workforce employed by the Hardmans and the women who came to have their portraits taken at 59 Rodney Street.

Also on show is a new display of E. Chambré Hardman photographs, including Birth of the Ark Royal, one of his most famous photographs which shows a boy walking down Holt Hill in Birkenhead and a newly-painted white HMS Ark Royal in the distance.

Earlier this year, the photograph was included in the new book, 125 Treasures from the Collections of the National Trust, selected as one of the National Trust’s most important collection items.

Entry to the Hardmans’ House is by guided tour only on Fridays and Saturdays between 17 September – 6 November. Spaces are limited so booking is recommended to guarantee a spot on a tour.