Rugby museum researches bigger picture behind photo collection

Rugby Art Gallery and Museum has launched a research project to discover the back stories of residents who posed for portraits at the Redding Photographic Studio. Photo courtesy of Rugby Borough Council NNL-170908-121737001
Rugby Art Gallery and Museum has launched a research project to discover the back stories of residents who posed for portraits at the Redding Photographic Studio. Photo courtesy of Rugby Borough Council NNL-170908-121737001

A major research project has been launched to discover the stories behind hundreds of portraits snapped at a famous Rugby studio.

The collection of nearly 26,000 photographs was donated to Rugby Art Gallery and Museum at the turn of the millennium when a new owner took over the Redding Photographic Studio.

Rugby Art Gallery and Museum has launched a research project to discover the back stories of residents who posed for portraits at the Redding Photographic Studio. Photo courtesy of Rugby Borough Council

Rugby Art Gallery and Museum has launched a research project to discover the back stories of residents who posed for portraits at the Redding Photographic Studio. Photo courtesy of Rugby Borough Council

The acetate and glass plate negatives date from the 1950s to the 1970s, a period when Rugby’s booming engineering industry and railways led to a rapid rise in the town’s population.

Funding has been secured to research the stories behind the first 200 photographs from the collection to be digitised.

They went on display this week in the foyer and collections officer Catherine Shanahan hopes residents can help reveal more information about the people caught on camera.

“The history of the Redding Photographic Studio goes back to 1912, when George Redding took over a studio in High Street which had been previously run by a photographer called Hensman,” she said.

Rugby Art Gallery and Museum has launched a research project to discover the back stories of residents who posed for portraits at the Redding Photographic Studio. Photo courtesy of Rugby Borough Council NNL-170908-121714001

Rugby Art Gallery and Museum has launched a research project to discover the back stories of residents who posed for portraits at the Redding Photographic Studio. Photo courtesy of Rugby Borough Council NNL-170908-121714001

“In 1935, Redding moved the studio to Church Street and soon after it was taken over by Rodney H Huntingford, who we believe took the majority of the photographs in the Redding Collection.

“The collection comprises portrait and wedding photographs, and promotional photographs of products manufactured by companies in the town.

“But though the collection came with ledgers containing some of the names and addresses of the people in the photographs, I’d like to fill in the gaps and find out the back stories which led residents to pose for a portrait at the Redding studio.

“I’d also like to learn more about the photographer, Rodney Huntingford, who we believe worked at the studio until the late 1970s before selling the business.”

Rugby Art Gallery and Museum has launched a research project to discover the back stories of residents who posed for portraits at the Redding Photographic Studio. Photo courtesy of Rugby Borough Council NNL-170908-121726001

Rugby Art Gallery and Museum has launched a research project to discover the back stories of residents who posed for portraits at the Redding Photographic Studio. Photo courtesy of Rugby Borough Council NNL-170908-121726001

The museum hopes the research funded by Understanding British Portraits can help secure further funding to catalogue, conserve and digitise the entire collection.

Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for growth and investment Cllr Heather Timms said: “The Redding Collection’s an important record of Rugby’s social history and I hope residents can help the Museum bring the stories behind the photographs to life.”

Residents can look through the photographs until Saturday, September 9.

Anyone with information about photographs in the Redding Collection, or the history of Redding Photographic Studio, can call Catherine on 01788 533201 or email catherine.shanahan@rugby.gov.uk.

For more information about events and exhibitions at the museum, visit www.ragm.co.uk.