Keith Medley was a commercial and press photographer who worked in and around Merseyside for most of his career. Born in South Africa in 1915, he attended school in the United Kingdom and then spent a period in the merchant navy before taking a photographic apprenticeship in Liverpool at Dorondo Mills, Lime Street. Whilst working here, he photographed the spectacular opening of the Queensway Mersey Tunnel by King George V on July 18th 1934, from a unique vantage point on top of St. George’s Hall (below). Soon afterwards he moved to London, working for an advertising agency, then subsequently as assistant to Howard Coster, the celebrated society portrait photographer. His portrait of Howard Coster is in the National Portrait Gallery.
After his war service Keith returned to Merseyside and set up a photographic business on King Streeet, Wallasey, in 1949 in partnership with his ex RAF colleague Bob Bird (below). The business was very successful, including work on weddings, studio portraits, commercial work and press work for both local and national newspapers. In 1964 Keith became sole owner of the business and continued working until his retirement in 1987.
Keith also did cinema newsreel assignments for Movietone News, covering amongst many other items, the funeral of Winston Churchill, the Investiture of the Prince of Wales, and Donald Campbells’s water speed record trials on Lake Coniston. Keith’s film at Coniston recorded the tragic accident in which Donald Campbell lost his life when his craft Bluebird crashed.
A large collection of photographic negatives was donated to LJMU by Keith Medley’s family in 2009. We are currently researching this collection and the history of Keith’s career. Entries from the handwritten ledgers are being transcribed and a sample of the images has been digitised, giving us a better understanding of the wide variety of subjects and events covered. Our hope is that after significant conservation work we can carry out further digitisation and make this fascinating collection more widely available.