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Friday, 22 January 2010

Who took the Myra Hindley Photograph


 I always wondered who took the iconic police photograph of Myra Hindley. I got two messages - I think the Harding one is the right one....


'I'm Bryan Harding's son and my dad worked as a police photographer for Cheshire Police (Officer 575). We were living in Stalybridge at the time and the photograph was taken in a corridor of Mottram Police Station. I saw a post suggesting a different photographer , who was interestingly based in Stalybridge so wonder if they had actually processed the photograph as opposed to taken it. I'm sure Cheshire Police can clarify. Myra did say some words at the time but it was quite mundane and will be kept as an interesting family story. I don't think there are many (if any) photographs of Myra Hindley with blonde hair and this has gone on to become very well known probably because of that and her 'evil' expression even though it was natural and just a routine 'mugshot'. We often said if we had a penny for every time that was published, we'd have a few by now.'

But before that  I got this comment on a previous post.

"I am the daughter of Clifford Scott, a photographer from Manchester. My Dad was called on by the police to take a photo of a suspect back in 1965. This suspect was Myra Hindley. He had no idea she had been arrested for murder (he thought she was a prostitute). His version of events is that Myra wouldn't co-operate so he swore at her. The result is that iconic photograph ... when I see it, I see someone who has been insulted by my Dad!

Sadly, Dad died a couple of years ago, otherwise I would put you in touch with him. He only told me about the photo a few years ago, and I was gobsmacked. I knew he'd had a photographic studio in Stalybridge but thought it was all weddings and babies. Apparently, Greater Manchester Police had a pool of local photographers to call on, if their photographer wasn't available. My dad was a Yorkshireman so didn't express too much emotion about the whole thing when I asked him. I suppose it was a few months after that he would have found out what she had actually been arrested for. At the time, he had three children (I was born in 1967) so I am sure it hit home that Hindley's crimes were abbhorent. We regularly used to go to Ashton market and I know they picked up one of their victims there. I grew up with the Moors Murders being a shadow over Manchester, but it took years for me to understand that we had a family connection to this terrible event.  It's a gruesome claim to fame really.

Which all says something about how photographs come about, who takes them, what they become and how different people see them. Thanks Sara.'


so there you go, none the wiser....

usual disclaimers apply

8 comments:

Darrell Eager said...

Thanks Colin. I often think that many times the backstory of an image is more interesting than the image itself. In this case at least.

colin pantall said...

The picture's chilling to my mind - it's the most chilling British crime picture. The Hindley Brady story is very familiar to everyone here and is just horrific - and the picture is part of the story. It reminds me of Arbus for some reason.

Anonymous said...

I understood it was a police photographer , Bryan Harding,who took this photo.

colin pantall said...

Thanks, Anonymous, have you got a source or any further information to verify that?

Anonymous said...

No information further other than he was approached by Channel 4 some years ago when they did a programme. Sadly,he died about 5 years ago. He worked for Cheshire police force.

Rich Harding said...

This is an old post but thought an update was required.

I'm Bryan Harding's son and my dad worked as a police photographer for Cheshire Police (Officer 575). We were living in Stalybridge at the time and the photograph was taken in a corridor of Mottram Police Station. I saw a post suggesting a different photographer , who was interestingly based in Stalybridge so wonder if they had actually processed the photograph as opposed to taken it. I'm sure Cheshire Police can clarify. Myra did say some words at the time but it was quite mundane and will be kept as an interesting family story. I don't think there are many (if any) photographs of Myra Hindley with blonde hair and this has gone on to become very well known probably because of that and her 'evil' expression even though it was natural and just a routine 'mugshot'. We often said if we had a penny for every time that was published, we'd have a few by now.

Richard Harding, Oxford UK

colin pantall said...

Thanks Richard - I don't know which is right but I'm guessing yours is... but I'll keep the other comment up. It's quite a photograph to take...

Rich Harding said...

You are welcome Colin , I haven't taken much interest in it, other than knowing it was widely reproduced over the years but can see a lot has been written around the photograph itself. I'll have a chat with my sister & aunt and see what information we have on the backstory of the photograph, as I have some recollections of the details I was told of events at the time of the arrests & when the photograph was taken.