Donald Birkinshaw, Photographer (1922-1988)

Categorised as Cornwall, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Surrey, Wiltshire
Donald Ashley Birkinshaw

Donald Birkinshaw was a British photographer (1922-1988) who took a particular interest in rural landscapes and country settings.

He was born in Nottingham and spent much of his childhood there. But he subsequently lived in Croydon, Surrey, Wiltshire, Somerset and then Cornwall, enjoying the English countryside which so fascinated him.

Quick Facts about Donald Birkinshaw

Born: 29 August 1922, Nottingham

Died: 25 June 1988, Cornwall

Occupation: Civil servant and photographer

Donald Ashley Birkinshaw took over 15,000 photographs of towns and villages in southern England between 1938-1953. So you might be surprised to learn that most of the time this was his hobby!

Donald Birkinshaw attended Nottingham High School and the Whitgift Grammar School in Croydon. His passions for the countryside, photography and classical music became evident at an early age. By 1938, the 16 year old had his photographs published in country magazines.

A year later, Donald joined the civil service. Between 1939-1946, he worked for the Home office, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Agriculture.

In 1947, Donald Birkinshaw’s “Ashley Series” of postcards and calendars started production, and these now form important visual records of rural England of the postwar era.

As a bachelor living at home with his mother on the Hog’s back near Farnham in Surrey, and realising how much of his earnings went to income tax, in 1953 he stopped commercial production of his photographs and instead concentrated on photography for personal enjoyment. 

Following his mother’s death in 1970, Donald relocated to Wiltshire, before then moving to Somerset. His final move was to Cornwall where he died in 1988.

Videos of Donald Birkinshaw

Unfortunately, no footage seems to have been recorded of Donald Birkinshaw during his lifetime. Instead, we are left with the visual records of some of the places he visited and photographed.

“Eastbury, Berks, England. The Birkinshaw Photo Collection 1951”

Posted to YouTube by Christian Noll on 25 May 2014

In 1951 photographer Donald Birkinshaw took these beautiful black and white photos of the Berkshire village of Eastbury, with its period homes, thatched roofs and deserted lanes.