The Story of the Studio in Post Office Terrace, Cambridge
06/07/11A Short History of a Long Exposure
A photographic studio
in Post Office Terrace from 1867 to 1985
From an article by Local Historian, Mike Petty.
1867 - 1879
Arthur Nicholls. Moved from 5 All Saint’s Passage. Earliest photographs are his
(such as the Market Place , Magdalene Street etc) Moved to Sandown in 1879
1879 - 1887
J.E. Bliss. “Artist and Photographer” Carte de visite, enlarged by the carbon process and finished in oil or water colours 1/- each , 14 for 9/-, 26 for 16/6.
Valentine Blanchard / Colin Lunn. Valentine Blanchard; nephew to another V. Blanchard (see note at end) Partnership dissolved by 1889
Colin Lunn. In 1893 he pioneered the installation of electric light into what was previously and was later to be, a daylight studio.
1894 - 1932.
John Palmer Clarke. Clarke family were photographers in Bury St Edmunds from 1870’s. Patronised by Royalty with the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge being amongst their sitters. Studio was remodelled. Evening sittings. Miniature pictures printed in “Platinotype” or enlarge to any size on porcelain.
By 1901 business run by
Charles E. Goodrich. Portrait studio. Frederick Sanderson. Architectural.
Goodrich seems to have dispensed with the electric light and used white net curtains to soften the natural light. To ensure sitters remained still for the long exposure their necks would be clamped in a half-moon shaped contraption.. Used technique of hand colouring faint black and white prints.
Sanderson born 1856. Became a Cabinet maker and wood and stone carver in Bridge Street. His interest in Architectural photography led him to design his own camera which was patented in 1895.( Now a valued collector’s item)
Sanderson dies in 1929 and due to ill health Goodrich sells up to
1932 - 1978.
Lettice Ramsey and Helen Muspratt.
Helen Muspratt studied photography at the Regent Street Polytechnic in London and had achieved success with a studio in Swanage.
Lettice Ramsey had read Moral Sciences at Newnham College and later met and married Frank Ramsey, a brilliant mathematician and philosopher, who died five years later leaving her with two children and in need of a job. After just one term studying photography she went into partnership with Helen
In 1937 Helen leaves to set up a studio in Oxford. They continue the business under joint names.
Granta described the studio’s “ whitewashed walls, a glass roof: bare floor, light coloured seats and divans and a tubular steel chair. Mrs Ramsey sits in a tyrolean peasant dress, she is tanned because she has been abroad, she looks competent and strong and slightly flamboyant”. Lettice belonged “ to that class which gave England of yesterday its scientists, and that of today its artists, writers and higher Civil Servants. Many now famous people were photographed by Mrs Ramsey during her long tenancy of the studio.
The final tenants of the building
1978 - 1980
1980 - 1985.
encouraged investigation of this archive and now most of the collection is lodged with the Cambridge Collection in the Central Library. Over 50,000 negatives are catalogued and indexed. Not all the work survives. It was the firm’s practice at one time to cannibalise the older and larger glass plate negatives, washing off the original image and then cutting them to a smaller size to fit their own cameras before recoating and reusing them. Peter Lofts emptied the ramshacked buildings at the back of the studio before vacating the premises in 1985 when the site was redeveloped.
Note about Valentine Blanchard ( The Uncle )
Born in Wisbech in 1831, he moved to London in 1852. In his West End studio he produced his own chemicals and won medals at exhibitions. 1862 sees him specialising in” instantaneous “ stereoscopic views of London Streets and after that also the new carte de visite.
In 1869 his studio was destroyed when chemicals exploded, blowing him into the garden where he watched his studio go up in flames. Regardless, he continued to pioneer, developing into paper negatives and enlarged transparencies.
In 1892, aged 61 years, he moved to Harston. In 1896 he moved again to Kent where he died in 1901