Herbert Thackwray Allison was born in Bradford in 1854. He and his brother came to Ireland in 1881 and set up a photographic business, trading as Allison and Allison, in Belfast, where they had branches at Donegall Square North and Queen's Arcade. Towards the end of the century, as the art and practice of taking photographs developed and expanded, the Allisons spotted a niche in the market outside Belfast and set about establishing country branches in Dundalk (1896), Armagh (1900), Newry, (1903) and Warrenpoint (1905). In May 1900, a manager was installed in the Armagh studio at 42 Scotch Street but when he left in 1903, Herbert Thackwray Jnr, who had been working in the Belfast business, was sent to Armagh where he was to remain for almost fifty years. Herbert Snr moved to live at Warrenpoint about 1905 and ran the Newry and Warrenpoint studios. Over the years, he was a tireless worker for his adopted town serving as a JP and councillor and lived there until his death at the age of 94 in 1947.
-Extracted from a full account of the Allison records in the PRONI catalogue: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/proni
Archival History ↴
Purchased from the Allison Photographic Studios in 1973.
The collection consists of c 1,550 photographs and 34 volumes, comprising the records of Allison & Co., photographers Armagh 1889-1953.
The subjects portrayed in the collection are wide and varied and provide a deep pictorial insight into the social mores of life in Counties Armagh, Down, and Louth (and to a lesser degree, Counties Fermanagh, Monaghan and Londonderry) during the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries. They include: transport; clerical and church; architecture and buildings; medicine; sport; musical and dramatic scenes; the Orange Order; businesses and people at work; life during the 1st and 2nd World Wars; portraits of individuals, families and weddings; agriculture; youth organisations. Even within a particular subject the nature of the photographs is wide-ranging, eg, the transport section encompasses: scenes of the Armagh railway disaster, June, 188; schoolboys entering a dental caravan, c.1936; police transport, 1922, and a car rally at Warrenpoint, 1908, etc. Other interesting photographs illustrating the disparate backgrounds of those people captured by the Allison lens include: Michael Collins, (elected as MP for Armagh in the new northern parliament), at a large Sinn Fein demonstration on 4 September 1921 and a wartime wedding, 3 July 1943, when Maureen Donnelly of Railway Street became the first GI bride in Armagh.
Another interesting and important aspect of the archive is the day-books for the Armagh studio which, apart from two, Sept. 1911-Oct.1915, have survived for posterity. Allison usually inscribed an identification number on his negatives and wrote the number into the day-book. This means that, generally speaking, it takes only a matter of a few minutes to check in the day-book, not only the date of the photograph but also the name of the person who commissioned it. This is obviously an enormous advantage over almost all other photograph collections which have survived in Ireland.
Appraisal Destruction ↴
The collection is arranged as follows:
D2886/1 Business records of the Allison Studio – Day books
D2886/2 Business records of the Allison Studio – Account books
D2886/3 Business records of the Allison Studio – Sales ledgers
D2886/A Co. Armagh
D2886/B Co. Down
D2886/C Co. Louth
D2886/D Co. Monaghan
D2886/E Co. Tyrone
D2886/F Co. Antrim
D2886/G Co. Fermanagh
D2886/H Co. Londonderry
Conditions of Access & Use
The collection can be consulted in the reading room in PRONI in accordance with PRONI guidelines.
Conditions Governing Reproduction
Items may be copied for personal research use only. If a researcher wishes to publish any documents from this collection, a request must be submitted in writing to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.
c 1,550 photographs + 34 volumes
Material Language Script
A full descriptive list is available to search online at: http://www.proni.gov.uk/
Archive Web Link →
Digital images from the collection are available to view via www.proni.gov.uk/pronionflickr
Descriptive Control Area
ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
National Council on Archives: Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names. Chippenham: National Council on Archives, 1997.
UK Archival Thesaurus (UKAT)