The Bagshaw Project

A Picture Tells a Thousand Words: The Bagshaw Photographic Studio – Chronicling a Town in Change

The Bagshaw Project is an archive cataloguing project focusing on the records of Doncaster photography firm, Bagshaw and Son.  We hold thousands of

Image from the Bagshaw Collection showing young women having tea on a lawn

business records and photographic images across our collections and this project – funded by the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives -brings them together under one catalogue for the first time, improving their identification, preservation and accessibility.

Bagshaw and Son was established by John Thomas Bagshaw in 1897, three years after his son, Luke, started taking photographs. Luke gained a reputation as an accomplished portra

it photographer and eventually moved to a large studio and shop at 150-152 St. Sepulchre Gate. John oversaw the trade business, supplying equipment and materials to the photographic industry around Britain and overseas. After Luke’s death in 1944, this side of the business continued to operate under the Bagshaw name until 1978.

Image of a studio camera from the Bagshaw Collection

Our archive collection consists of over 11,500 business records such as invoices, bills, accounts and items of correspondence dating from 1895 to 1932. There are also 14,000 glass plate negatives. These range in size from 4¼” by 3¼” to 15″ by 12″ and date between 1894 and 1944.

The vast majority are 6½” by 4¾” portraits of individuals and groups taken in a studio setting. Many are labelled with the surname of the customer and will be of particular interest to family history researchers, others were taken outdoors at events such as weddings in location across Doncaster.

Image from the Bagshaw Collection showing a child named Master Grainger

The larger negatives include images taken for advertising purposes such as manufactured goods, shop fronts, vehicles and railway wagons. Some were commissioned by Doncaster Corporation and now give us a fascinating insight into the stages of major construction and engineering projects around the Borough. Luke’s work has captured an amazing period of Doncaster’s history which saw the region transformed from a country town into an industrialised urban area. Hence the project’s full title.

The first stage of the project was to catalogue and re-package the business records.  Our project archivist then re-arranged them back into the 14,000 negatives back into their original order using the studio numbers inscribed on them. Each record will be described individually in the catalogue with surnames and other details recorded.  With the help of volunteers, the negatives will be transferred into new enclosures to protect them for the future.

The Bagshaw Project is due to be completed later in 2018, at which point people will be able to view and search the collection on this site.