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From Cooper to Photographer – Edmundson Buck

Underground passage

Clitheroe library holds a collection of eight hundred glass slides of images captured by a local man, Edmundson. The total number he produced is unknown but other photographs appear in postcard form, in various periodicals, local histories and private collections, suggesting he was an extremely prolific photographer of the early twentieth century.

Brungerley cottages  Post mistress

Edmundson was born in about 1858 at Roughlee near Nelson. Little is known about his father (his surname may have been adopted from his mother) and he does not appear to have been present during Edmundson's early life.

It was his mother Betty, a cotton weaver, who brought him up in, if we can judge from the evidence of the census, hard circumstances in the cramped and crowded cotton workers' lodgings of Little Marsden.

He married Susannah in 1880 at St. Bartholomew's Church in Colne and, interestingly on his marriage record, gives his father's name as James Haworth, a painter. He was by now employed as a cooper and living in Foulridge.

  Dinckley ferry

By the 1890s, now in his thirties, the family which now included two sons moved to Clitheroe.

1901 is when we next find him living in Waddington Street, Clitheroe, where he was to remain for the rest of his life. Still listed as a cooper on the census, he had already embarked on his passion for photography and from 1905, according to the local trade directories and census, was now a self-employed photographer.

According to those same directories, he was still trading up until 1939, then aged 81, just two years before he died.

Mrs Wright  japanese grave

His photographs display a great love for the Ribble and the Hodder river valleys, which he helped to popularise throughout East Lancashire. Whilst his images are predominantly of landscapes and historic buildings, many also show intriguing glimpses in to the lives of the people of Lancashire in the early century.

Artists at Ribchester  sheep clipping

In similar fashion to Graystone Bird (featured in a recent post) these glass slides of Edmundson's were used for public presentations. Many are hand coloured and amongst them are some title slides and poetic intertitles.

title slides

It was fortuitous that, at the time we began digitising these images in the early 2010s, the Ribble and Craven Decorative and Fine Arts Society were looking for a project for their Heritage Volunteers and offered their assistance.

Once these fragile glass plates had been scanned, these volunteers began their research, so we could add names to places and faces.

This has proved to be a most interesting and rewarding experience for the volunteers. Work started by accessing the community history material available at Clitheroe Library including local histories, village files, old maps and newspaper cuttings. These sources enabled many of the photographs to be accurately described but many more required searches on the ground. Churches from the 11th and 12th centuries, Manor Houses from the 14th and 15th centuries, remote farms in the Trough of Bowland and surrounding fells had to be visited. Some had disappeared, including the many buildings in Daleshead drowned when Stocks Reservoir was formed, or were in ruins; some had been altered or their usage changed but many had interesting stories to tell such as Waddington Hall where King Henry VI hid after losing the Battle of Hexham in 1464.


waddington old hall

In 2016, one of our volunteers, Michael Brasier-Creagh, was given a NADFAS Marsh Heritage Award for his voluntary work on this and other projects.

See the Edmundson Buck collection


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