Keith Medley's Merseyside photos (1950s-1980s)

Keith Medley's life

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, Keith Medley 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.

While working at Dorondo Mills, Keith 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 Medley moved to London, working for an advertising agency, then subsequently as assistant to Howard Coster - the celebrated society portrait photographer. Keith Medley's portrait of Howard Coster is in the National Portrait Gallery.

After his war service, Keith returned to Merseyside in 1949 and set up a photographic business on King Street, Wallasey, in partnership with his colleague Bob Bird. 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 Medley also worked as Northern editor for Movietone News, covering, amongst many other items, the funeral of Winston Churchill, the Investiture of the Prince of Wales and Donald Campbell’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.

Keith Medley archive

In 2009, a large collection of photographic negatives were donated to LJMU by Keith Medley’s family. 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. Conservation and repackaging work is currently taking place in order to make the collection more accessible.

External Links

Keith Medley’s portrait of Howard Coster can be viewed on the National Portrait Gallery website.

Terence Gallacher worked at Movietone News head office and gave Keith Medley his assignments. Terence’s blog includes a colleagues section, with one page devoted to his recollections of working with Keith.

All the Movietone films taken by Keith Medley are listed on the British Universities Film and Video Council website and many can be viewed online.

Photographs from the Keith Medley Archive were used in the 'Our Day Out' oral history project in 2015, where interviews were conducted using the images as a prompt.  This culminated in a year long exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool.