Photography studio, gallery and training complex

Thank You Santa!

Over a Christmas drinkie with my mate Mark, he casually announced, “I’ve got a few bags at home. I think they’re camera bags. Do you want ’em?”. I can never have enough camera bags for the ever-growing mountain of kit piling up in the studio so I agreed to pick them up later, half expecting them to be well-worn car boot finds. “They’re black. I think they’re new”, he added finally.

So when I went to pick them up, he brought down a big cardboard box and pulled out…

…a black Billingham bag, and of a style I’ve never seen before. Not a camera bag as such (no padded sides or partitions) but unmistakeably Billingham in style, black canvas with black leather straps. And there are six of them! I know that “Billy” bags start at around £100 so this was rather a nice surprise.

They’re actually more like messenger bags, with shoulder straps (still separate and folded inside most of them). I’ve trawled the internet and found nothing like them anywhere.

So where did they come from? Mark was clearing an empty unit in Brierley Hill near Dudley (where Billingham used to be based) when he found the box of bags. I can only guess that these were part of a test run or aborted product line. They’d been sitting in Mark’s shed for a while before he thought to mention them to me. Consequently, some of the metal fixings are a bit dulled, but I’ve successfully removed this with a dry cloth.

As I’ve said, there’s no padded internal seperators, but there is a zipped document pocket at the back of the back and a leather handle at the top (in case you’re not using the strap, perhaps).

I’d be interested to know if you have a bag like this, or have ever seen them before. I certainly haven’t and I bought my first Billingham bag direct from the factory (an ex-display model) close on twenty years ago.

I’m going to keep two of these rare bags, plus another for a future competition prize. So I have three more than I’m going to sell. Any offers?

PS. Sorry about the dreadful hastily-snapped photos. In my defence, I was a bit excited.

UPDATE: I have spoke to Billingham and it seems that these are actually “Hadley Pro” bags (currently retailing at £135+) but without the padded partition insert which can be bought separately for £37+VAT from Billingham.


4 responses

  1. I’m actually looking at cheap bags in River Island at the moment that have a similar look to these as I love the Billingham bags but my budget doesn’t get close to them? How much are you looking at for one?

    January 3, 2012 at 10:56 am

    • Ooh, Make me an offer. These are proper Billingham quality but sure we can do a deal.

      January 3, 2012 at 2:09 pm

  2. Norman Rubenis

    Billingham bags are still made there in Brierley Hill, I had a 20yr old bag refurbished recently. Why not get in touch with the company and ask about them, they started off making fishing bags and only moved into the photographic market later. An interesting find though, well done.

    January 3, 2012 at 11:04 am

    • Yeah, a good idea re: contacting them. Think I might be afraid they’ll want them back!

      January 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm

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