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Photograph - Tapping a Furnace
  • Tapping a Furnace
    Broomfield, Maurice, born 1916 - died 2010
  • Enlarge image

Tapping a Furnace

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Barking and Dagenham (Ford Car Plant, Dagenham, taken)

  • Date:

    2007 (Produced)
    mid 20th century (taken)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Broomfield, Maurice, born 1916 - died 2010 (Photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Digital C-type print

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Maurice Broomfield

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case BLCG, shelf D

Maurice Broomfield (1916-2010) worked to photograph the changing face of British manufacturing industries during the 1950s and 1960s. His photographs are recognized for their uniquely modern design elements, humanist strain, and their contribution to the documentation of the rebirth of British industry in the post war era.

Broomfield was often commissioned by manufacturers to produce photographs of a company's product, facilities and workers. One approach that lent a special force to his photographs of industry was his attitude towards workers; instead of emphasizing the mechanical or repetitive qualities of modern work, he chose to illuminate the strength and sensitivity of individuals. In his images, monumental machines and bizarre equipment are examined or operated by crisply attired men and women.

Heavily influenced by the New Objectivity aesthetic that emerged in Germany in the 1920s, Broomfield employed the use of dramatic lighting and unconventional camera angles, but brought the aesthetic to new levels in his use of colour film. He worked closely with Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) and llford, the manufacturer of photographic paper, to test new colour processes. His, and the industry's shift, from black and white to colour, is represented in these 12 photographs.

Broomfield's photographs were the focus of an exhibition at the Science Museum entitled "Maurice Broomfield's 'New Look' at Industry" (February-May, 2007). The exhibition highlighted Broomfield's photographs as important records of the post war era British manufacturing culture, but also pointed to their distinctly contemporary value: as the manufacturing sector has increasingly turned to cheaper markets in Asia and elsewhere, these photographs serve as reminders of a recent stage in Britain's manufacturing history.

Physical description

A colour photograph of a worker with an iron rod supervising the production of molten metal from a blast furnace. Horizontal with oranges and greens.

Place of Origin

Barking and Dagenham (Ford Car Plant, Dagenham, taken)


2007 (Produced)
mid 20th century (taken)


Broomfield, Maurice, born 1916 - died 2010 (Photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Digital C-type print


Height: 507 mm paper, Width: 609 mm paper

Descriptive line

Photograph by Maurice Broomfield, 'Tapping a Furnace', 1954, Digital C-type print, printed 2007

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Plate 38. Tapping a Furnace
"When this large furnace was tapped it was spectacular. Two men were controlling a river of molten metal."
Ford, Dagenham, Essex, 1954
Maurice Broomfield, published by Foto8, 2009

Subjects depicted

Blast furnace; Worker; Workplace; Industrial location; Metalwork; Metal; Iron




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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