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Photographer recreates ancestor's 1860s Leicestershire snaps

By Samantha Noble
BBC News, East Midlands

image copyrightLeicestershire Record Office and Matthew Broadhead
image captionThese shots show Bradgate Park taken in 1869 and the present day

A photographer has recaptured images taken by his great-great-great grandfather in the 19th Century.

Matthew Broadhead's ancestor Frederick Broadhead is thought to have taken some of the first landscape photographs of Leicestershire from 1860 onwards.

Mr Broadhead said he had used "a blend of modern and historic technology" to photograph the same landscapes during a residence in Charnwood, Leicestershire.

He said the landscapes were "of particular personal importance".

image copyrightMatthew Broadhead
image captionMatthew Broadhead has photographed beauty spots like Bradgate Park (above), Swithland Wood, and The Outwoods

The 26-year-old said he only found one physical example of his ancestor's landscape photography of Charnwood Forest, but discovered written evidence the images had been taken in newspaper records and the Royal Photographic Society's archive.

He discovered his ancestor, a Leicester-based artist and photographer, visited the ancient Charnwood Forest many times and photographed Bradgate Park, views of Ulverscroft Priory ruin, and the slate quarry in Swithland Wood.

image copyrightMatthew Broadhead
image captionThe rural landscapes - like Ulverscroft Priory above - were "of particular personal importance" to Mr Broadhead

Mr Broadhead used a large format camera with a 19th Century lens, which he said was the same make and model lens his ancestor used.

image copyrightMatthew Broadhead
image captionMatthew Broadhead adapted this camera to include a 19th Century lens for the project

He said: "The idea was to combine mine and my ancestor's process together."

He added it was an "enigmatic experience" to stand in the same place as his relative had, re-framing his shots.

image copyrightMatthew Broadhead
image captionResidents from the area were also photographed for the project

Mr Broadhead, who stayed in a wigwam during the two-week residency, said he found the people he met in Charnwood Forest, including rangers, land owners, and volunteers, were very passionate about where they live.

"It is more than nice photographs, it's about connecting with people," he said.

image copyrightMatthew Broadhead
image captionThe project was also about "connecting with people"

This project and residency were funded by a number of organisations, including Birmingham-based arts organisation Grain Projects and The National Forest Company.

Julie Attard, from the Landscape Partnership Scheme, one of those involved, said: "Matthew's project offers an exciting opportunity to both share the story and work of one of Leicestershire's earliest photographers, but also to see and value the contemporary landscape of Charnwood Forest in new ways."

image copyrightMatthew Broadhead
image captionThe project "offered an exciting opportunity to... value the landscape of Charnwood"

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Related Topics

  • Rural life
  • Photography
  • Charnwood Borough Council
  • Loughborough

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