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Godfrey Bingley

Published 11 April 2013

Leeds-based photographer Godfrey Bingley and assistant

100 years ago this year, Godfrey Bingley, a Leeds foundry owner and industrialist, donated his photographic collection to the University of Leeds.

Bingley was born in Leeds in 1842. He retired at the age of 42 and became an active member of many societies. In 1887 he began his interest in photography and over the next 26 years took thousands of photographs. The subjects of his photographs reflect his interest in geology, history and travel. These include many pictures of Yorkshire including Kirkstall Abbey, Fountains Abbey and Scarborough, as well as further afield such as Norway, France and Mexico.

In 1913 with his eyesight failing, Bingley decided to donate his collection of glass plate slides to the University of Leeds Geology department. The collection has remained at the University since then, and been used in teaching across the Geology and History departments. About eight years ago the collection moved to Special Collections. Last year work began on the huge task of digitising the slides. We have digitised about 3,000 images but still have a long way to go.

Along with the slides, we also have Bingley's notebooks which detail where and when many of the photographs were taken. We discovered he had taken pictures of Kirkstall Abbey on 4 May 1888. To celebrate 125 years since they were taken, we will be attempting to recreate these photographs at the exact time Bingley took them.

Come along to Kirkstall Abbey on the 4 May to join in and recreate your own versions of Bingley's pictures.     

On Friday 12 April Beccy Shipman, Digital Content Coordinator, will be talking about Bingley and our digitisation project at Leeds Town Hall.