Harold Burdekin, Photographer (1899-1944)

Born in 1899, Harold Benjamin Burdekin was educated at Rugby School. At the age of 17 he joined the Royal Field Artillery and saw military service for the final years of the Great War. Returning to civilian life he embarked upon a career as a professional photographer and set up a studio in Reigate, which appears to have been at 20 West Street. He became an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and a Fellow of the Institute of British Photographers, publishing a number of very successful books of his work during the 1930s. His work was highly regarded and featured in international exhibitions.

During the Second World War Harold Burdekin became a Fire Guard. Having survived military service in the Great War he was killed by a flying bomb that struck Reigate on 22nd July, 1944. The area was hit many times by V1 and V2 weapons during the year – it lay within what became known as “Doodle Bug Alley”, the flight path towards London.

Surrey History Centre holds just three photographs by Burdekin in its collections. One features The Barons Cottage, Reigate, dated 7 July 1937 – which stood just off Church Street, surrounded by an orchard (now demolished) (see SHC ref: 7828/2/122/234). The other two are 1933 studio portraits of Reginald Smith, bank employee of Reigate and Redhill (see SHC ref: 10074). Burdekin’s books of photographs of London at Night are really beautiful and a gallery of them from originals held in the Bishopsgate Library can be seen here http://spitalfieldslife.com/2013/02/24/london-night/. An online biography can also be seen at http://www.luminous-lint.com/app/photographer/Harold__Burdekin/A/.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service have recently unveiled a new memorial to those who lost their lives in service during wartime and Harold Burdekin is named among the Second World War fire guards.

We are keen to learn more details about the life of this talented photographer. Do you have information about Harold Burdekin’s life in Surrey? Do you remember him or his studio in Reigate? If so we would be delighted to hear from you.

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