Museum researches the bigger picture behind the Redding Collection

One of the portraits from the Redding photographic collection Published: Thursday, 10th August 2017

A MAJOR research project has been launched to discover the stories behind hundreds of portraits snapped at Rugby's Redding Photographic Studio.

The Redding Collection of nearly 26,000 acetate and glass plate negatives was donated to Rugby Art Gallery and Museum at the turn of the millennium when a new owner, Graham Wiseman, took over the Church Street studio and discovered the collection in storage.

The photographs 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.

Now the Museum has secured funding to research the stories behind the first 200 photographs from the collection to be digitised. 

The photographs went on display this week in the foyer at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, and Catherine Shanahan, the Museum's collections officer, hopes residents can help reveal more information about the people caught on camera.

Catherine, who secured a bursary from the Understanding British Portraits network for the research project, said: "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.

"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."

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

Cllr Heather Timms, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for growth and investment, 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 200 photographs in the foyer at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum until Saturday 9 September.

Anyone with information about photographs in the Redding Collection, or the history of Redding Photographic Studio, can contact Catherine Shanahan on (01788) 533201 or email Catherine.Shanahan@rugby.gov.uk.

For more information about events and exhibitions at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, visit www.ragm.co.uk