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Norwich Works: The Industrial Photography of Walter and Rita Nurnberg

Setting Saw Teeth

Check weighing and closing cartons in 1958
Walter and Rita Nurnberg, Check weighing and closing cartons, 1958

Walter (1907-1991) and Rita (1914-2001) Nurnberg established a commercial photographic studio in London in 1934 after relocating from Germany.

Walter, a former pupil and tutor at the prestigious Reimann School of Art and Design in Berlin, made a name for himself in product photography. After the Second World War, the Nurnbergs concentrated their collective skills in documenting and celebrating the workers of Britain.

Over the subsequent decade, the Nurnbergs made photographs for many of the nation's most significant companies and their distinctive style of black and white images transformed the image of post-war British industry. These included three Norwich manufacturing institutions:

  • Boulton and Paul
  • Mackintosh-Caley
  • Edwards and Holmes

Delivery of soles in 1948
Walter Nurnberg, Delivery of Soles, 1948

As well as capturing the craft and industry of the subjects and their labours, they also applied a stunning modernist visual aesthetic to their documentation of a city striving to rebuild itself economically after the war.

Nearly 130 of their original photographs of Norwich workers were displayed at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery in the Norwich Works: The Industrial Photography of Walter and Rita Nurnberg exhibition. The exhibition ran from 21 October 2023 until 14 April 2024.

Through this accompanying online mini-exhibition you can explore the three industries and see objects from our collections relating to the three factories they photographed:

  • The Chapelfield Works, where Mackintosh-Caley made chocolates
  • The Esdelle Works, where Edwards and Holmes made shoes
  • The Riverside Works, which housed the constructional engineering, joinery and wire netting departments of Boulton and Paul

More on Norwich industries

For more on the Norwich industries you can search the catalogues at:

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