Bamforth's

James Bamforth was a keen photographer and a talented artist, these skills, along with an eye for a good story and the knack of directing his actors, led him to become perhaps the most well known and biggest producer of Life Model slides in Britain.

In the tiny village of Holmfirth, near Huddersfield in the north of England, James Bamforth would spend the light summer months painting backdrops and photographing his actors.

Family members, friends, people from the village and the local school children all appeared in Bamforth's slide sets.

The dark winter months would be spent over seeing the production and hand colouring of thousands of sets of Magic lantern slides, some 600 different new slide sets each year.


" Shepherd of souls " Life Model Slide to accompany the singing of a Hymn, this actual slide was used by The U.K. Band of Hope.

A contemporary account, from 1899 in 'The Photogram' describes Bamforths as a series of studios and workshops perched on a slope between " the house, which overlooks the valley and the village of Holmfirth", it goes on to describe the bottom of this slope as banked and terraced with steps, fountains, shady walks, leafy dells and pleasant summer houses, that allowed " almost infinite changes of settings for 'life models' in rural life".
It then goes on to remark how little these are used, in favour of the 31 ft x 18 ft life model studio, "with its scene-dock and a property room at each end; and with roof light at both sides. Two new rooms the same size are to be built this year"

In 1899 Bamforths also made their first movie "Snowball encounter".

In 1903 they started to produce postcards, using images already available from their slide collection.

The First World War saw the end of lantern slide production and the last movie from Bamforths. The production of postcards, including the famous saucy seaside versions, continued right up until recent years, with production later being transferred out of Holmfirth.

 
The Bamforth name does not normally appear on the slides as they were sold through outlets such as Riley Bros,but they can usually be identified by two printed labels, one has the title of the series and the other the words ' from Life Models - copyright'. Occasionally the title slide of a set has 'illustrations by Bamforth,Holmfirth'.
 
click here to see a slide show of 'Excelsior' by the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, as envisaged by Bamforth's, this whole set of slides was shot in one day between 10am & 6pm, and that included painting the backdrops !!
 
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 In 1987 the family firm was sold to ETW Dennis , when James Bamforth's grandson Derek retired.

ETW Dennis, the Scarborough based printers and owners of Bamforth, went into liquidation in June 2000.