Scope and Content

The archive collection of Bagshaw and Son is made up of administrative business records concerning the day-to-day operation of a photographic studio and shop, as well as a large quantity of glass plate negatives, most of which were created by Luke Bagshaw between 1894 and 1944. The the business records are mainly items of correspondence (1892-1931) and financial records (1895-1958), the bulk of these being suppliers’ invoices and acknowledgements (1902-1930). There are also a small number of personal records, items of memorabilia, some printed photography journals and a few suppliers’ catalogues. The glass plate negatives ([1870s]-[1957]) account for approximately 85% of the volume of the collection. Individual negatives range in size from 4.25"x3.25" to 15"x12", though the half plate size, 6.5”x4.75”, is most common. Luke specialised in portraiture work and accordingly the majority of the negatives are studio portraits featuring single figures and family groups. These include portraits of children, dogs, uniformed workers and military servicemen. Most are labelled with a surname and studio number. There are further images of people, taken on location around Doncaster where Luke captured chapel congregations, sports teams, weddings, fancy dress parties and social events. There are also commercial images such as shop fronts, motor vehicles, railway wagons and manufactured goods that were taken for local businesses, often for advertising purposes. Other negatives were commissioned by Doncaster Corporation and show street views, construction work and civil engineering projects, such as the building of North Bridge.

Administrative / Biographical History

The business of Bagshaw and Son was established in Doncaster in 1897 by John Thomas Bagshaw (1847-1930) and his son Luke Bagshaw (1875-1944). Luke began taking portrait photographs for customers from the family home at 42 Union Street, Hexthorpe, in 1894. By 1896 he operated from a wooden lock up unit, known as St. James’ Studio, situated at the foot of Hexthorpe Bridge. Around 1898 the business moved to a large, purpose-built studio with an adjoining shop at 150-152 St. Sepulchre Gate. The shop supplied equipment and materials to members of the public and the wider photographic industry, fulfilling local, national and overseas orders. This trade side of the business was administered by John Bagshaw until his retirement in 1924, at which point Luke took over. After Luke's death in 1944, his widow Blanche (née Genders) continued the trade business for ten years before leasing it to Alice Harrison, Luke's former assistant. Alice traded under the Bagshaw name but gave up the premises in 1965 and opened another shop across the road which ceased to trade in 1978.


The collection forms five series: business records are series 1 to 4; photographic negatives are series 5 which is further divided into 8 subseries. The studio numbers found on the negatives indicate that negatives now held separately by Cusworth Hall, Doncaster Museum and Local Studies all once belonged to the same numbered sequences. Their original order has been reconstructed within this catalogue, though the negatives have not been physically reunited. The ‘owner’ of a negative is indicated in the Other Number field of its record.

Access Information



Access will be granted to any accredited member of Doncaster Libraries


Catalogued by Sandra Hicklin, 2018, for the project “A picture tells a thousand words - the Bagshaw Photographic Studio: chronicling a town in change”, with funding support from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives.

Conditions Governing Use

None known

Appraisal Information

A quantity of material arrived at Archives very badly damaged by mould and was disposed of after being examined by a Conservator: invoices for the years 1899, 1905, 1906, 1925, 1927; part of correspondence for the year 1907. Duplicates of a supplier's proce list, some examples of original negative boxes and a template for cutting mounts have been retained for exhibition purposes, though not catalogued. Some examples of original negative sleeves with Luke Bagshaw’s notes written on them have been retained and are catalogued with the corresponding negatives.

Custodial History

In 1978, The Museum of South Yorkshire Life at Cusworth Hall (since 2007, Cusworth Hall Museum and Park) acquired approximately 12,000 of Luke Bagshaw's glass plate negatives from his daughter, Mrs Blanche Walter. These are under accession number DONCH:A943.1. Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery purchased 25 glass plate negatives at auction in 1985, accession number DONMG:1985.192. Doncaster Libraries were bequeathed approximately 700 glass plate negatives and a number of Bagshaw and Son's business records by Mr Robert Walter (Blanche's husband) upon his death in 1989. The negatives went to Local Studies, named as collection LS/BC, and the business records were passed to Doncaster Archives. Cusworth Hall holds the bulk of the studio portraits and small format commercial work; Local Studies holds subjects relating to local interest and some of the large format commercial work. For cataloguing purposes, the negatives were given temporary accession numbers: Local Studies 2741; Cusworth 2742; Doncaster Museum 2753.

Related Material

Cusworth Hall holds Bagshaw's studio chair, camera, enlarger, tripod, bottle of chemicals, developing tank with dish and a studio backdrop, also accessioned in 1978 under the group number A943.1-8. Local Studies holds approximately 100 prints taken from the negatives by photography students. Other images that have been reproduced for use in displays can be found at Doncaster Museum and Cusworth Hall. Approximately 1,100 negatives have been scanned during 2017-18 for use in customer enquiries, Explore Your Archive activities, and for the Doncaster 1914-18 Project. Where a scanned image exists, this is indicated in the Copies field of the record.