Lad Wi’ Camera

The Early Photography of Christopher Pratt

Not too long ago Bradford Museums and Galleries acquired the photographs of Christopher Pratt. Shortly after there was an exhibition at Bradford Industrial Museum showing some of the collection’s highlights. We thought you’d like to see some of these iconic images along with a new video giving an outline of Christopher’s life and photography.

From Bradford Museums Photo Archive (apologies for the out of focus bits)

Grandson and namesake of the well known cabinet maker, Christopher ‘Kit’ Pratt was born in 1888 to Thomas and Elizabeth Annie. Christopher’s father worked for the family business Pratt and Sons at North Parade, and his children grew up in a non-conformist, middle class household in a grand family home at Highcliffe, Eccleshill, built by his grandfather in the 1860s.

Garden Party at Highcliffe House
Garden Party at Highcliffe House

Second son of eleven children, Christopher and his siblings lived a privileged life with access to a grammar school education, family holidays, day trips and toys.

Christopher was interested in photography from an early age. Many of these images were taken while he was still at school. They show how keen he was to play and experiment with a technology which had only recently become more widely available.

Street scene
Street Scene

His experiences were a sharp contrast with those of the children he photographed in the city’s slums. The very fact that a young person who owned an expensive camera was able to take pictures of life in the city as well as the natural landscape is remarkable, and a fascinating record of his view of the world around him.

Alleyway
Alleyway

When Christopher grew up, he followed his father into the family business in 1903, at the age of 15. His hobby proved useful in the illustration of company brochures
and advertising. 

A Thrush
A Thrush

As well as taking pictures for the Eastbrook Methodist Mission, and recording the flora and fauna of West Yorkshire, Christopher documented the offices and shops of the firm as well as the company’s production during the First World War.

Christopher with his brothers and sister in military uniform
Christopher with his brothers and sister in military uniform

Seven of his brothers fought in the war, and his sister Agnes Dorothea trained as a nurse. Christopher and his elder brother Leonard could not be spared from their work in war production, making seaplanes (a type of early aircraft).

There are around 1000 of Christopher’s photographs available to view on the Bradford Museums Photo Archive website.