Joseph Hardman


JOSEPH HARDMAN Lakeland Photographer : 1893-1972

By Anne Bonney, Helm Press : £13.50

This is a fascinating, beautiful book.

For more than half a century, Joseph Hardman captured the changing life of the mountainous Lake District of Cumberland and Westmorland, its places and people, particularly whilst they were working.

In 1911, Hardman, searching for work, moved from Radcliffe, near Manchester to Kendal. He took up photography as a hobby. But his instinctive grasp of what images hook people’s imaginations, allied to his enthusiastic interest in his subjects swiftly showed he had an almost artistic talent for photography. It wasn’t long before his work was in demand and he went on to have his photographs widely used in local, regional and national newspapers. He was to win many prizes for his work.

Hardman took over 50,000 photographs. Edith, his wife, accompanied him and she kept accurate details of all of them. Sadly, to date only around 5,000 glass negatives have been located. These are stored at the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry in Kendal – a place well work visiting as, amongst many other things, it’s excellent in highlighting the lives of the 99 per cent plus of people who live and die without leaving anything behind — and now that all 5,000 have been digitalised they can be viewed, and copies purchased, online at

This book from Helm Press contains tales from some of those in the photos and a handful of Hardman’s photographs, every one of which is a picture in its own right as they include people in the foreground and not just a beautiful view. Hardman got to out-of-the-way places and still managed to get just the right angle on his subject, even if at one time he did lose his heavy camera when it fell into a waterfall and where it still resides. Apparently the lens should still be useable!

Taken together the photographs record great changes in agricultural and rural working life from the 1930s to 1960s when more people then worked on the land. Gathering in the sowing oats, threshing, ploughing, clipping the sheep, cutting trees and market day feature prominently in the book along with photographs of mining and cockle picking plus hunting and other recreational activities.

The introduction to this book is certainly correct when it states: ’Hardman deserves to remembered by future generations for the great artist/photographer he surely was…and to be appreciated for the great legacy he built up and left for all to see.’

How to buy the book.

Send cheque for £15.50 to 10 Abbey Gardens, Natland, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 7SP.

Visit any good bookshop and use ISBN number 978-0955082351 to order the book at £13.50. You can also pay by Pay Pal direct at Books Cumbria.