Collection: Hallam Ashley collection

1931 - 1980
Collection containing Photographic, Graphic and Textual material
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This collection of photographs falls into five principal series: The largest and most significant being the "G" series, the commercial stock shots of the firm; photographs taken for the National Buildings Record and the National Monuments Record; photographs taken for private clients, including The Castle Museum, Norfolk and The Friends of St Mary's, Bury St Edmunds; a group of miscellaneous images ranging from geological to portraiture; and glass lantern slides.

Although coverage is national, most (80%) is of East Anglia, and Norfolk accounts for over half of the collection. There is also some non-English material which has been catalogued under HXA01/01/01. Just under one quarter of the images depict ecclesiastical buildings, which range from modest chapel buildings to cathedrals. There is particularly good coverage of interior detail, including over five hundred shots of the bosses and other woodwork in St Mary's Church, Bury St Edmunds. St Peter Mancroft Church in Norwich also features strongly with almost 300 images.

Residential buildings account for around 20% of the collection and include country houses, farms and historic urban buildings. Several show restoration or demolition work in progress, reflecting the commissions from the NMR. Particularly striking are a series of shots of Ballingdon Hall in Sudbury, Suffolk, being moved intact to a new site.

In addition to an extensive catalogue of mill exteriors, the collection also provides a detailed record of the working machinery and interiors of traditional wind and water powered mill buildings.

Hallam was keen to record threatened or disappearing ways of life, and show people about their daily routines. He captured many vanishing rural crafts and industries, such as reed cutting, thatching, well dressing and traditional milling activities.

A large group of geological images, particularly of coastal erosion, quarrying and details of rock and glacial formations, reflects Hallam's deep interest in the subject. Indeed, in 1935 he was appointed to the Geological Photographs Committee of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

Over 90% of the images have precise dates, covering a period from the 1940s to the 1980s, with most occurring in the 1950s to 1970s. Some of the earliest photographs dating from before 1940 may have been taken by Rex Wailes or Hallam's father.

The NMR also holds photocopies of the original photographic indexes.

Archival History

Hallam Ashley was born in 1900 and spent his early years in Nottinghamshire. On the death of his father, Hallam took over the family photographic business, which has been established in Retford in 1852 and moved to Sutton in Ashfield in 1912, a position he retained until the business was sold in 1921. Following this he undertook various photogarphic jobs and later became a schools photographer.

By 1929 he had established himself on the outskirts of Norwich, where he lived for the remainder of his life. In 1935 be became a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and during the war years gained further photographic experience with the RAF. Between 1945 and 1983 Hallam Ashley was commissioned to provide prints and negatives for the National Buildings Record (NBR) and subsequently the National Monuments Record (NMR) for the Red Box collection, now housed in the Public Search Room of the NMRC, Swindon. As well as recording many buildings under threat for the NMR, Hallam also produced images for the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) and worked closely with the SPAB Wind and Watermills Section. Owing to failing health Hallam Ashley ceased taking photographs for the NMR in the early 1980s and died four years later in 1987.

The collection was received by the NMR in batches before and after Hallam's death. Some of the material duplicates that supplied as NMR commissions - now in the Red Box collection and accessioned under NMR negative runs - and has been identified as a cross-reference. On receipt, the negatives were housed in a variety of enclosures annotated with site details and the photographer's original numbering scheme. This scheme also appeared on the corresponding prints, and in the copies of the photographer's indices. During cataloguing all negatives were resleeved in archival enclosures and the original number scheme replaced.

The collection was catalogued in detail between July 1998 and May 1999


This Collection is divided into 7 Child Series
This Collection contains the following materials:
Photograph (35mm Slide): 212
Photograph (Lantern Slide): 330
Photograph (Negative): 19,085
Photograph (Positive): 26
Photograph (Postcard - Photographic): 26
Photograph (Print): 17,971
Photograph (Transparency): 91
Measured Drawing: 8
Catalogue: 1
Correspondence: 43
Daybook: 7
Extract/Cutting: 3

People & Organisations

Photographer: Ashley, Hallam