Around 1905, Charles Bartlam opened his photographic & artistic studio at 72 Court Street, Madeley. Nine years later, at the end of 1914, he married Kathleen Watts from Uttoxeter who also joined him in the business. Charles died in 1939, but Kathleen kept the studio going until around 1948.
In more than 40 years that the business operated, the Bartlams took thousands of photographs, mainly family portraits, together with a much smaller number of local scenes and events.
Many of these have been lost or destroyed, but around 2,500 negatives were recovered by local historians Alan Heighway and Pete Wilson working with Christopher Bartlam (Charles & Kathleen’s son).
They were supported by Madeley Living History Project who obtained a HLF grant for £10,000 to pay for the digitisation of the images by Shropshire Archives as well as the publication of a book and the provision of a headstone for the previously unmarked grave in St Michael’s churchyard where the Bartlams are buried. A copy of the famous “pig on a wall” postcard was etched into the headstone. The postcard was originally made in 1909 to commemorate Captain Webb swimming the channel. However it had to be amended when there was a court case by Ernst Fletcher who had not given permission for the use of his image. Charles amended the original version in his workshop after the court case.
No studio records survived, apart from the negatives, and a mammoth task was undertaken to try to identify as may subjects as possible. This was carried out via displays, talks and a temporary website (created by Andy Craddock of ABC web design) as well as appeals in the local and regional press.
Around 600 of the negatives were identified and they were included in the book. The original negatives were deposited at Shropshire Archives.
A book launch & exhibition of the achievements of the Bartlam Studio took place on Saturday 14th August 2010 at Jubilee House.
Copies of the book can be purchased from Jubilee House at a cost of £ 10 plus p & p.