Photo Histories
The Photographers' History of Photography
 
TF Hardwich © The Wellcome Library, London

Thomas Frederick Hardwich photographed for the Photographic Society Club album of 1856, one year after publication of his Manual of Photographic Chemistry. Photo: Wellcome Library, London.

The Two Lives of Thomas Frederick Hardwich (1829-1890)

Author of a best-selling manual on photographic chemistry and close friend and collaborator with the great Robert Howlett, TF Hardwich departed London following the death of his friend to become a vicar and doctor in a colliery village in Durham. Rose Teanby investigates the two lives of a Victorian pioneer.

“The condition of the collodion is also an all important point, and it appears to be very capricious in its properties. It is preferable not to make the collodion oneself, but to use that prepared by makers of repute; I usually employ Thomas’s or Hardwich’s collodion, both of which I have found very uniform in quality.” Warren de la Rue, On Celestial Photography in England, September 1859. [1]

In the 1980s Bill Jay conducted an experiment to illustrate how little scholarship there was in photography. We know “a great deal about a few photographers, who may not deserve such special attention”, said Jay, “and next to nothing about other photographers whose names were household words in their own day.”   

His essay Footnotes to Fame: Forgotten Victorians, mentions TF Hardwich, an accomplished chemist who the editors of the 2010 publication Issues in the Conservation of Photographs place “at the forefront of the application of scientific theory and methodology to early photographic practice”. King’s College, London, claim their scholarship-winning student and lecturer as the first professor of photography in Britain, and perhaps the world. [2] [3] [4]

Hardwich’s contributions to the Photographic Society Journal, now the Royal Photographic Society Journal and the world’s oldest photography magazine, were prolific and highly respected by Society members seeking advice regarding the vagaries of photographic chemistry, and its practical application. By all accounts he was also genial, conscientious and humble.   

So what made this talented young chemist abandon a successful life in the capital and why did he reappear a few years later as the vicar of Shotton Colliery in County Durham?  

King’s College, London, claim in the post ‘1861: James Clerk Maxwell’s greatest year’ that their former Lecturer in Photography, Thomas Frederick Hardwich, could be the world’s first university professor of photography.

MEDICAL TRAINING  

The son of naval Lieutenant John Hardwich of Westbury, Somerset, Thomas Frederick was born on 18 September 1829. By 1841 he was attending school in Walcott, Bath then Sherborne School. Following his father’s death in 1846 leaving six children, Hardwich applied to become a medical student at King’s College, London, but with little financial support. 
  
In August 1850 Thomas achieved a First in his first year exams towards becoming a Bachelor of Medicine under the same examination board and at the same time as Sir Joseph Lister, the father of antiseptic surgery. [5]  

The prospective physician, however, turned from medicine to chemistry when he received the Daniell Scholarship that same year. Awarded to encourage original research in chemistry this prestigious prize recognised the one King’s student who had produced the best series of researches in the preceding two years. [6]

Hardwich’s new position as Curator of the Chemistry Laboratory also began in 1850 followed by the post of Demonstrator of Chemistry in 1851.

This was the year of the Great Exhibition, triggering a subsequent tidal wave of interest in photography, and establishment of the Photographic Society, later the Royal Photographic Society, in January 1853.

That December the twenty-four year old chemist wrote to the Photographic Society Journal concerning the ‘Alkalinity of the Nitrate Bath’. Published three weeks later with his surname misspelt, his letter provides the first evidence of Hardwich’s extensive knowledge in the practice and chemical processes of wet plate photography. [7]

Frontespiece to the fourth edition of Thomas Hardwich’s Manual of Photographic Chemistry printed by medical publisher John Churchill in 1857, just two years after the first edition. Churchill also published the The Lancet for a period of five years.

A MANUAL OF PHOTOGRAPHIC CHEMISTRY
  
In February 1854 Thomas Hardwich unexpectedly resigned from both of his King’s College positions. His “being naturally of a delicate constitution”, he claimed, made him unable to bear the confinement required by his duties. Consciously or not this provided Hardwich with the opportunity to take up his pen. [8]
 
In March 1855 the late Demonstrator of Chemistry launched his Manual of Photographic Chemistry Including the Practice of the Collodion Process. An early Photographic Society Journal review predicted the manual’s imminent success, but not that it would continue to be reprinted and supplemented for the following thirty-one years. [9]    

The fourth edition of Hardwich’s manual, published in 1857, consists of 418 pages; the sixth edition of 1861 has 571 pages.

Hardwich’s comprehensive and expanding companion concentrated on the chemistry of the wet plate collodion process introduced in 1851 by Frederick Scott Archer. It also included investigations into the possibilities of dry collodion including the wonderfully obscure Dry Process of the Abbé Despraz, which despite a tendency to produce fogged negatives that required twice the exposure time of a wet plate negative, the author admitted, “deserves further investigation”. [10]
   
Diverse aspects of the medium from lens distortion to Shadbolt’s Honey Process, the construction of glass houses and the apparatus, chemicals and manipulations of landscape photography were also covered in Hardwich’s manual, accompanied by a ‘Vocabulary of Photographic Chemicals’ and a comprehensive appendix which ends, after explaining French weights, measures and lengths, with Twaddell’s Hydrometer.
   
When Hardwich died in 1890 his estate was worth £10,170, approximately one million pounds in today’s money. This suggests that the nine editions of his Manual of Photographic Chemistry, published as photography spread across the globe, may have yielded a handsome financial reward.

TO KING’S AGAIN

After three years of writing Thomas returned to King’s College.
  
The new scientific art of photography was still in its adolescence, only eighteen years old yet making an impact in all aspects of Victorian life. When King’s welcomed him back in April 1857, Hardwich agreed to share the cost of setting up the new department of photography within Applied Sciences with a significant financial investment in his position as Lecturer in Photography.   

Soon adverts for Thomas’s classes were appearing in the Illustrated London News. On 28 March 1857 the magazine carried the seven-line advert ‘King’s College, London – Instruction in the Art and Scientific Principles of Photography, BY THOMAS FREDERICK HARDWICH, Esq., Lecturer in Photography’. Classes would begin in just over a week, the ad stated, and be ‘Illustrated by Practical Demonstrations in the Art’. 

In this way Thomas supplemented his income with private tuition for which the going rate was five guineas for six lessons. In April 1858 The Times carried an advertisement for his course of ten lectures with opportunities for students to get hands on practice in the collodion process.  He offered a “Ladies Only” option and in addition to the regular course, Hardwich provided other classes “consisting of about six gentlemen, who meet twice a week”.  [11]  

SEVEN AND SIX A PINT

His reputation as an analytical chemist also gave a unique commercial advantage when promoting sales of his own products. Through wholesaler Burfield and Rouch, 20 oz of Hardwich’s collodion sold for 16 shillings, while his silver nitrate bath went for 7 shillings 6 pence a pint. [12]

Bespoke collodion was also available to order, tailored to the individual requirements of a specific client or challenging climatic demands. The Photographic Society Journal reported Hardwich supplying his collodion “expressly for the purpose” of Doctor David Livingstone’s Zambezi expedition of 1858 to 1864.  Livingstone’s brother Charles was responsible for the production of stereoscopic images of wildlife, native tribes and botanical specimens. Clearly, this mission demanded the highest quality in both chemicals and equipment to guarantee success in such an unforgiving environment. [13]

On 21 February 1857 the Photographic Society Journal wrote approvingly of Thomas’s classes. “Among the events of the past year… the establishment of a class of photography at King’s College, under Mr. Hardwich as lecturer, is one of the most important.  This recognition of photography as one of the educational wants of the time is most significant, and must be hailed with satisfaction by every lover of the art”, the Journal reported. [14]

King’s College, London, pioneered formal instruction with Hardwich at the helm. His fellow Photographic Society member Phillip Henry Delamotte was also engaged, bringing aesthetic skills and a knowledge of this progressive scientific art to benefit King’s College students as Professor of Landscape Drawing.  

HARDWICH MEETS HOWLETT  

Having proved himself a generous correspondent of the Photographic Society Journal over the previous two years Thomas Hardwich joined the Society in March 1855. Here he met Robert Howlett, who two years later would create the great Brunel portrait with the launching chains of the SS Great Eastern.   

Of similar age, Howlett and Hardwich formed a close friendship which continued until Howlett’s premature death in 1858. The friends worked enthusiastically, experimenting with optics and chemistry, pushing the boundaries within London’s thriving photographic community.  

THE FADING COMMITTEE    

There was, however, a growing concern among photographers regarding the permanence of the images so carefully captured onto a collodion glass plate and printed onto paper by the alchemy of the sun.   

With the encouragement and financial backing of Prince Albert, a Fading Committee was set up to investigate the possible causes and remedies. This led to Hardwich’s publication ‘On the Actions of Damp Air upon Positive Prints’ in the journal of the Photographic Society in May 1856.   

The same year he collaborated in the production of Robert Howlett’s thirty-two page manual On The Various Methods of Printing Photographic Pictures Upon Paper, further cementing their status as fellow labourers in this fledgling scientific art. [15]   

Howlett’s preface expressed gratitude to Mr Hardwich for the “valuable suggestions” contained within his chemistry of photography manual. Further references are made to Thomas’s Photographic Society papers in the ‘Positive Process with Citrate of Silver’, his ‘Negative Printing Process upon Nitrate of Silver’ and a final acknowledgement of Hardwich for providing the best printing method to ensure a permanent printed image.

Hardwich encouraged his friend to publish his experiments but Howlett was reluctant, lacking the characteristic confidence exhibited in his photographic skill.

Their combined experiments continued until November 1858 when Thomas sent Robert a packet of chemicals for a newly proposed investigation, and received a grateful reply from his friend, now suffering with a cold.

Days later the twenty-seven-year-old Howlett was dead, a victim of typhoid fever which was to be found even in the substantial Georgian villas of Bedford Place, Kensington.  

MINGLING OF SORROWS 

The announcement of Howlett’s death received scant attention at the Photographic Society meeting of 7 December 1858, compressed as it was between the election of council members and a heated exchange regarding developments in carbon printing.

In attending the London meeting Hardwich simultaneously witnessed indifference to the death of his gifted friend and missed his burial in far away Norfolk that same day.

This seemingly prompted an extraordinary public outpouring of grief from Hardwich who’s lament ‘Remarks on the Death of Mr Howlett’, published across two pages of the Photographic Society Journal, appeared to mark a turning point in his young life. [16]

The later stages of Howlett’s illness would have ruled out usual forms of communication, yet, clearly, the medically trained Hardwich would have come to Howlett’s aid had he known the severity of his condition. The least he could do now was use his position within the Photographic Society to pay tribute to his friend, giving him the obituary and posthumous respect he deserved.

“I felt for my poor friend’s loss as I might have done for a relative,” wrote Hardwich, “It was truly a subject for most serious thought”. Appealing for “moderation and forebearance” from his unresponsive colleagues he dwells on the words of the Reverend John Newton of St Mary Woolnoth in the City of London, whose 1774 letter concentrates on the futility of vanity and inevitability of death.   

Thomas Hardwich’s bereavement was so acute that he sought solace in science to explain a cruelly random event of immensely tragic consequences. Howlett’s prowess with photographic optics and Hardwich’s encyclopedic knowledge of chemistry could have formed a formidable partnership. But it was not to be.

TO GOD AND THE COALFIELDS  

There seems little doubt that ‘Remarks on the Death of Mr Howlett’ was not the writing of an analytical chemist but the start of a religious calling which would result in Thomas Hardwich being ordained into the Church of England in November 1861, several months after he resigned from the Photographic Society.
    
The Photographic Society Journal, forbidden from disclosing the reason for his resignation until August that year, published a British Journal of Photography tribute to their departing colleague entitled ‘Secession of Mr Hardwich from Photographic pursuits’. [17]

This announced his removal to a higher sphere of action highlighting photography’s heavy loss to the black and dreary colliery districts of Durham. The tribute talks of happiness that “consists not in our surroundings so much as in the heart; and his, like the cheerful flame, is warm enough to kindle a corresponding glow in the hearts of all with whom he comes into intimate contact”.

As “the apostle of photography” loosened his ties with the academic and social life he had built in the capital his position as lecturer in photography went to Thomas Sutton who was soon replaced by George Dawson, editor of the British Journal of Photography, on Sutton’s retirement.   

At the age of thirty-two Thomas Hardwich left London, his friends, abandoned his profession and his photographic society, headed north to Shildon in the diocese of Durham and took up his curacy at the church of St John. 

This move, however, proved to be an unforeseen blessing with his marriage in 1863 to the daughter of the Vicar of St John, before moving to the Parish of St Saviours in the village of Shotton where they raised two daughters and four sons.   

A portrait of Thomas Hardwich taken in the 1880s when he was in his mid-to-late fifties. The image is reproduced without great detail perhaps in a church reference guide. A former medical student and chemist, Hardwich was vicar and village doctor at Shotton Colliery, a village thirty miles from Newcastle where fellow members of the local photographic association included Sir Joseph Swan, developer of the dry plate process and bromide paper, and Professor Alexander Stewart Herschel, the second son of Sir John Herschel.

MINISTERING TO THE COLLIERYMEN
 
The mining towns and villages of County Durham were the focus of massive demographic change with the insatiable demand for coal to power the industrial revolution.    

This necessary increase in population placed unprecedented strain on the relatively poor provision of church resources, leading to a recruitment drive by the Church of England in 1860 for responsive clergy more able to empathise with the working man.  [18]

The previous entrance criteria was suspended with an instruction to minister to the pitmen, miners and iron workers at the more distant areas of the parish, accompanied by a new church building initiative. 

As a pupil of Sherborne, student and staff member of King’s College, Thomas Hardwich was always likely to have allied his studies with a religious ethos which he could now employ in an evangelical ministry. 

LEARNED PAPERS  

Ordination did not end the photographic journey of Thomas Hardwich. When he was establishing himself at the church of St John in Shildon, his past and present overlapped in a portrait displayed at the enormous 1862 International Exhibition in South Kensington, London, where photographic exhibit number 400 (out of 1107 in Class XIV) was listed as a portrait of “Rev F Hardwich”, taken by the recently rediscovered stereographic photographer and portraitist TR Williams. [19] [20]

And in 1880 Hardwich returned to the pages of the Photographic Society Journal in assistance to an old friend, the lens manufacturer JH Dallmeyer. [21]

Nor was Hardwich intellectually alone in the north east. The year 1881 saw the formation of the Newcastle-on-Tyne and Northern Counties Photographic Association where Hardwich contributed learned papers in the company of fellow members including the physicist and inventor Sir Joseph Swan, developer of the dry plate process, bromide paper and the incandescent filament light bulb. [22] [23] [24]

The “most influential and hardworking” member of the association was its President, Professor Alexander Stewart Herschel, son of Sir John Herschel, one of the great names of early photography, and from 1871 to 1886 Professor of Physics and Experimental Philosophy at the University of Durham College of Science in Newcastle. [25]

REMEMBERED IN STONE, PRESERVED IN SILVER  

After twenty-three years as vicar to Shotton Colliery, the medical student and chemist who became a lecturer in photography before joining the church, died in his vicarage in June 1890.   

The Northern Echo reported the death of Thomas Hardwich as a great loss of a model parish priest, adding, “He was beloved by all who came within the reach of his influence.” Hundreds of parishioners and those living miles away, came to pay their respects to a man who had chosen to share his later life with the colliery men and women of the north east. [26]

“His medical skill was at all times willingly placed at the disposal of all who sought his aid, free of any charge, and thus not only did he minister to the spiritual wants of his people, but, like his Divine Master, healed their bodily infirmities,” wrote the Northern Echo. His loss would have hit his parishioners hard: most vicars trained in Latin and Greek, not medicine as Hardwich had done.

The photographic chemist, who wrote the heart-felt lament on the death at twenty-seven of Robert Howlett thus ensuring his young friend and colleague would be remembered, was himself honoured by his devoted parishioners in a community memorial for his grave when he died aged sixty. [27]

The photographic legacy of the Reverend Thomas Frederick Hardwich is subtle but profound. It is contained within the glass plates of countless images created by successive generations of Victorian photographers who referenced his Manual of Photographic Chemistry.  His collodion recorded Livingstone’s Zambezi expedition and early images of the moon, his scientific skill preserved in silver as a priceless record of a golden age of discovery made possible by a compassionate and inspirational pioneer.  [28] [29]


• • •


Rose Teanby appeared in episode one of Britain in Focus: A Photographic History first shown on BBC Four on 6 March 2017. Teanby explained how Robert Howlett and IK Brunel reinterpreted the photographic portrait in their extraordinary collaboration in front of the chains of the SS Great Eastern. She spoke at the rededication of the Howlett’s grave which took place at the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Wendling, Norfolk on 14 October 2017.

• The exhibition Britain in Focus: A Photographic History was held at the Science+Media Museum, Bradford, from 17 March to 25 June 2017.

The Light Shone and Was Spent: Robert Howlett and the Power of Photography: David White’s story about Robert Howlett and the Brunel portrait on Photo Histories.

Shotton Colliery was sunk by the Haswell, Shotton & Easington Coal & Coke Co in 1840 and from the 1850s was owned by the Haswell Coal Co (Messrs. Clark, Taylor, Plummer, Lambs, Maude, Laws & Bell). Abandoned in 1876 the colliery reopened in 1900.

Between 1841 and 1954 a total of one hundred and sixty-two men were killed working at the mine.

In a letter dated 21 February 1944, John Manisty Hardwich, the fifth child of Thomas Frederick Hardwich, thanked MP Jack Lawson for a BBC Home Service radio broadcast Lawson had made the previous evening on the sanctity of man. Lawson, who had worked in the mines from the age of 12 was at the time Labour MP for Chester-le-Street.

“I was personally touched by your treatment of the subject,” wrote Hardwich. “For I was born at Shotton Colliery… my father T. Frederick Hardwich was Vicar of Shotton… I was at school at Durham, under the shadow of that glorious Cathedral; and I loved the miners because my father loved them & served them till he died”.

• Photo Histories would like to thank the following for their assistance with this article: Michael Pritchard, Chief Executive of the Royal Photographic Society; the Reverend Anna Brooker, Priest in charge, Shotton, Haswell and Thornley and Hub Vicar for the East Durham Mission Project; local historian Barry Williams; and the Wellcome Institute, London for permission to use their 1856 portrait of Thomas Frederick Hardwich.


• • •


THE HARDWICH FAMILY

Thomas Frederick Hardwich married Junie (occasionally Janie) Caroline Manisty (1834-1905) in Shildon, Durham in 1863. After moving to Shotton Colliery the couple had six children: Junie Caroline (1864-1881), Frederick Norman (1866-1896), James Edward (1868-1913), Sarah May (1870-1917), John Manisty (1873-1959) and Walter Henry Albert (1876-1946).

Sarah May Hardwich married the Reverend Sydney Montgomery Reynolds in 1895. They had two daughters, Ruth Mary Caroline Reynolds and Naomi Junie Catherine Reynolds.

Thomas and Junie’s two youngest sons, John Manisty Hardwich and Walter Henry Albert Hardwich, attended St John’s and Trinity College, Cambridge, respectively. John was ordained and a master at Rugby School for thirty-four years, his wife Jean Violet died in 1953. John’s younger brother Walter was a partner in F Turnbull, a colliery engineering company in Newcastle-on-Tyne, and an agent for Caxton Publishing until 1940. Walter married Grace Eleanor Charlton (1884-1984) in 1908.

For more on Rose Teanby’s ongoing research into the life and work of Robert Howlett and of Thomas Frederick Hardwich see the Rose Teanby Photography web site.


• • •


NOTES on The Two Lives of Thomas Frederick Hardwich, Photography’s First Professor

[1] “Of rare excellence” is how Sir John Herschel described the collodion of the chemist RW Thomas in a letter written to William Henry Fox Talbot on 7 November 1853. Thomas traded photographic products from 10 Pall Mall, London, between 1852 and 1879.

[2] Bill Jay found Hardwich to be the most mentioned photographer in “a typical mid-Victorian photographic journal” for the year 1860. The only well-known name on his list for that year was Francis Frith who came joint 17th with eleven others. Jay wrote, “It only serves to illustrate the notion that some of the best known names in Victorian photography have been totally ignored and forgotten – and that until these names are researched we cannot say whether or not they have been justly by-passed in history”.

[3] Reading 1, Introduction to ‘On the Action of Damp Air upon Positive Prints’ (1856), Issues in the Conservation of Photographs (2010, Getty Conservation Institute) edited by Debra Hess Norris and Jennifer Jae Gutierrez, p2.

[4] “King’s in fact was a early pioneer in the study of photography: Sutton’s predecessor from 1857 to 1860, Thomas Frederick Hardwich (author of A manual of photographic chemistry, theoretical and practical (1855) was Britain’s (and perhaps the world’s) first university professor in the subject, and King’s professors dominated the Photographic Society of the time.” 1861: James Clerk Maxwell’s Greatest Year, posted 18 April 2011 on the King’s College, London, web site, accessed 30 March 2017. 

[5] Hardwich attended King’s, Lister attended University College. “University of London. First Examination for the Degree of M.B. – 1850, First Division”, The Morning Post (p3) and The Standard, both of London dated Friday, 16 August 1850. Gale News Vault, accessed 14 March 2017. 

[6] Only presented in 1848, 1850 and 1854, the Daniell Scholarship was founded in honour of John Frederic Daniell (1790-1845) businessman and inventor of the electrochemical cell. Daniell became the first professor of chemistry at King’s College in 1831 through the auspices of poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Dates from King’s College London Calendar, 1848 and the King’s College London Calendar, 1850-1851, with thanks to Frances Pattman and Chloe Thomas at King’s College London Archives.

[7] ‘On the Alkalinity of the Nitrate Bath’, Frederick Hardwick (sic), King’s College, 28 December 1853. Photographic Society Journal, 21 January 1854 (Volume 1, p160). In a second letter dated 3 February 1854, Hardwick (still) writes on the ‘Chemistry of Photography on the Collodion Process’, Photographic Society Journal, 21 February 1854 (Volume 1, pp171-173).

[8] Correspondence between King’s College London Archives and Rose Teanby. King’s College Secretary’s in correspondence, ref: KA/IC/H33.

[9] “We take our leave of Mr. Hardwich’s ‘Manual,’ nothing doubting that it will soon be in the hands of most practical photographers.” REVIEW: A Manual of Photographic Chemistry, Photographic Society Journal, 21 April 1855, (Volume 2, pp155-156).

[10] The Dry Process of the Abbé Despraz, Chapter IX: Collodion Preservative and Dry Collodion Processes, The Manual of Photographic Chemistry (Sixth Edition, 1861), pp216-217. 

[11] “King’s College, London – Instruction in the Art and Scientific Principles of Photography by Thomas Frederick Hardwich”, The Times, 9 April 1858, p3.

[12] Advert for Burfield and Rouch, Operative Chemists, Philosophical and Photographic Instrument Makers, 180 The Strand, London. The Photographic Society Journal, 15 October 1859 (Volume 6, p205). Hardwich announced the discontinuation of sales of his collodion in February 1860, then gave away his entire formula in a paper before the Photographic Society in March.

[13] The Photographic Society Journal (Volume 4, p159) reported on 22 February 1858 that Hardwich made collodion “expressly for the purpose” for what would have been Dr Livingstone’s Second Zambesi Expedition. The Government-funded expedition departed that March with two photographers: Livingstone’s brother Charles who used collodion and Dr, later Sir John Kirk, a more experienced photographer who preferred the slower and less detailed calotype process better suited to tropical conditions. Few of Charles Livingstone’s photographs survive, most of Kirk’s do. For more on Kirk see The Calotypes of Sir John Kirk: Zambesi by the Irish artist Fionnbharr Ó Súilleabháin. Dr Livingstone’s largely unsuccessful epic journey ended in 1864 when he was ordered home by the government. Several expedition members died in the undertaking including Livingstone’s wife Mary.

[14] The Photographic Society Journal, 21 February 1857 (Volume 3, p220).

[15] Robert Howlett’s publication ‘On the Various Methods of Printing Photographic Pictures Upon Paper with suggestions for their preservation’, 1856, Sampson, Low and Co. & The Photographic Institution. 

[16] ‘Remarks on the Death of Mr Howlett’, The Photographic Society Journal, 21 December 1858, (Volume 5, pp111-112). 

[17] ‘Secession of Mr Hardwich from Photographic pursuits’ quoted from the British Journal of Photography, The Photographic Society Journal, 15 August 1861 (Volume 7, pp252-254). 

[18] Introduction to The Church of England and the Durham Coalfield, 1810-1926 by Robert Lee, pp1-14.

[19] Hardwich was in colourful company. Other portraits by TR Williams shown at the 1862 expo included Chancellor of the Exchequer William Gladstone, Lord “Queesbury Rules” Douglas and the Archbishop of Cantebury overpainted in oils. In all, Williams had twenty-eight images selected earning him a medal for “excellence in photographic portraiture, etc”. Catalogue of the Photographers Exhibited in Class XIV for the International Exhibition of 1862 and Medals and honourable mentions awarded by the international juries; with a list of jurors, and the report of the council of chairmen – International Exhibition, 1862, p205. A portrait of Hardwich taken by TR Williams also featured in the Photographic Society exhibition of 1859.

Brian May and Elena Vidal at the Oxford Literary Festival in 2010 with their book A Village Lost and Found. The London Stereoscopic Company website run by May and Vidal has helped restore the forgotten reputation of the award-winning Victorian photographer TR Williams and is a reminder of the talent of Warren de la Rue, astronomer, lunar photographer and advocate of Hardwich’s collodion. Photo © Graham Harrison.

[20] The book A Village Lost and Found (2009) by Queen guitarist Brian May and conservator and photo historian Elena Vidal (above) contains many of William’s stereoscopic photographs and details of his life. On the London Stereoscopic Company website May and Vidal assert that the hand-coloured stereo cards produced by Williams, “were the first examples of photographic art for its own sake ever to achieve wide commercial success”.

[21] Dallmeyer reported on correspondence from Hardwich “urging the importance of an improved lantern for public lectures”, ‘Principles of Optics Involved in Lantern Construction; and on a New Enlarging Lens, Especially Designed for use with the Magic Lantern’ by JH Dallmeyer, FRAS, The Photographic Society Journal, 16 April 1880, (Volume 20, pp90-95). The church, and missionary bodies especially, were enthusiastic users of lantern slide shows to garner support and convey their religious message. 

[22] ‘Valuable papers had been read by members, viz., the Rev Mr Hardwich’. Report on the 1884 annual meeting of the Newcastle-on-Tyne and Northern Counties Photographic Association [NTNCPA], ‘North of England News’, The Newcastle Courant (Newcastle-on-Tyne), Friday 11 January 1884, p5. 

[23] “Rapid developments in the technology led to the formation of the [NTNCPA] in 1881. Among the members was Joseph Swan, the inventor of dry collodion plates and bromide paper. This Association, however, wound up in 1908.” Tyne and Wear archives. Talented as he was Swan only developed the process. Richard Leach Maddox is credited with the invention of “the first workable silver bromide gelatine emulsion” (Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 1972) in 1871. Fortuitously dry plates proved about sixty times more sensitive than plates coated in wet collodion.

[24] The Sunderland born Swan’s dry plate process dates from 1877. His bromide paper was patented in 1879. In all Swan took out more than seventy patents related to photography.

[25] “The Association looses this year (as an active member) in the person of its late President, Professor Herschel, who has left Newcastle, its most influential and hardworking member”, from a report on the 1888 annual meeting of the NTNCPA, The Photographic News, 20 January 1888, pp47-48. Herschel was vice-president and president of the photographic association until 1887 after which he moved to the house in Slough once occupied by his grandfather, the astronomer Sir William Herschel.

[26] “The sentiments voiced by a collier’s wife at the graveside I have no doubt were those felt by many. Said this simple, honest woman, ‘He was a good man, and nowt we can do is good enough for him’… Mr Hardwich [had] studied medicine… and his medical skill was at all times willingly placed…” Northern Echo, Durham, Monday, 30 June 1890, p3. Hardwich had died the previous Tuesday, 24 June 1890.

[27] ‘Memorial to the late Vicar of Shotton’, Durham County Advertiser, Durham, 15 August 1890, p5. The dedication at the foot of a modest cross in the churchyard of St Saviours, Shotton, reads “Erected by his sorrowing parishioners and relatives”.

[28] “I usually employ Thomas’s or Hardwich’s collodion…” from On Celestial Photography in England by Warren de la Rue, was published in the Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (September 1859, p213). Another pioneer of the medium, De La Rue used photography in astronomical research. He was among the first to photograph the moon, the De La Rue crater is named after him. He later presented his astronomical instruments to the Oxford University Observatory. The gift enabled the observatory’s participation in the Carte du Ciel project of 1887, itself made possible by the new dry plate process invented by Maddox and developed by Swan.

[29] Hardwich described mixing chemicals and photographing sun spots at the Cambridge Observatory in 1860 or early in 1861 where the observatory director was the clergyman scholar James Challis FRS. The Photographic Society Journal, 15 January 1861 (Volume 7, p84).


• • •


The Two Lives of Thomas Frederick Hardwich, Photography’s First Professor
Text © 2017 Rose Teanby. Additional research by Graham Harrison.




Browse more Photo Histories