Bertram Unné, Harrogate photographer

by Danielle Spargo, Record Assistant

We hold a fascinating collection of historic photographs, which beautifully portray life in the rural and urban communities of North Yorkshire in the 19th and 20th centuries. This blog focuses on one Harrogate photographer, Bertram Unné, who successfully created a unique record of landscapes and life in the North Yorkshire countryside between 1940 and 1979.

George Henry Bertram Unné was born in 1913 to a Swedish family. His father, Ernest Unné, was a medical gymnast and masseur, who later worked for a private practice in Harrogate. Bertram established himself in Harrogate and was an active photographer from 1940. Harrogate Borough Council and other organisations hired him for his talents. There are regular advertisements in Harrogate directories between 1950 and 1959 providing details of his studio at 47 Oxford Street. He took many beautiful pictures of Harrogate, which we are fortunate to have in the collection; many are digitised and available to view and purchase via our online shop.

Left to right:

  • A large tree stands amongst the morning fog on The Stray, Harrogate. The Stray is one of Harrogate’s most famous sites and was created in 1770 by an act of parliament (BU00263A)
  • A variety of shops are found on James Street, Harrogate. These include the Marshall & Snelgrove, G.S. Davies, and Ogden’s of Harrogate. (BU03266A­)
  • A flower display created by the Harrogate Parks Department at the Harrogate Spring Flower Show. (BU07818)

Unné sold his prints to newspapers and magazines and his work often featured in The Dalesman magazine. Unné assembled a considerable archive of negatives and contact prints of Yorkshire landscapes and people. He spent time documenting folk activities and the landscapes of farming and coastal communities from across Yorkshire. Many of his photographs are taken outside, as a photographer he preferred to take pictures in the open air, which can be seen in the photographs below.

  • Old Drover, Malton (BU04799A)
  • An Easingwold farmer with his herd of highland cattle (BU07456A­)
  • Master T.G. Elliot, of Golden Square Farm, bottle feeding newly born lambs (BU07342A)

Unné never married and, from 1955, lived with his sister at 8 Valley Road, Harrogate. He died in May 1981 from a fall at Malham Cove, which was one of his favourite places to photograph. Malham Cove is a stunning place to visit, and you may recognise it as it features in the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

  • A visitor to Malham sits on the grassy banks of Malham Beck. The cove is a 250 foot high cliff that was once a waterfall. (BU06339A)
  • The view from the limestone pavement above Malham Cove (BU06351)
  • Climber on Armscliff Crag (BU03457A­)

Before Unné retired in March 1979, he sold his entire photographic collection to North Yorkshire County Council for £5,000. The Victoria and Albert Museum contributed half of the total purchase price and a supplementary grant was donated by The British Library. The collection includes over 7000 items. Many of the images have been digitised as part of the Unnetie Digitisation Project and uploaded to our online shop. The Project was funded by the New Opportunities Fund and North Yorkshire County Libraries, Archives and Arts.

The value of the Unné collection lies in its rich record of Yorkshire village and country life in the period between 1940 and 1979. We also have other photographic collections digitised and available to view via our online shop, including photographs taken by Louisa Kruckenberg (1885-1958) a talented amateur photographer.


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