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The company was started in 1973 with Ros and myself working from home.

We put up a large table in a bedroom for cutting and preparing and had a sewing machine in another. It was very labour intensive with canvas pieces cut with scissors and the leather cut with a knife.

...made use of every spare hour to produce the fishing and shooting bags which were the first bags we made.

(Photo of Ros and Martin Billingham by David Collyer.)

...made use of every spare hour to produce the fishing and shooting bags which were the first bags we made.

We were both still working full time at other jobs to keep us in the black and made use of every spare hour to produce the fishing and shooting bags which were the first bags we made.

By 1977 we had enough orders to expand (a little) and we rented a 500sq ft unit and employed our first sewing machinist to help with the production.

We were intrigued to find out the fishing bags which we exported to the USA were being used as camera bags by New York Photographers. This was our lightbulb and lifechanging moment.

WE WERE INTRIGUED TO FIND OUT THE FISHING BAGS WHICH WE EXPORTED TO THE USA WERE BEING USED AS CAMERA BAGS BY NEW YORK PHOTOGRAPHERS.

This was our lightbulb and lifechanging moment.

WE WERE INTRIGUED TO FIND OUT THE FISHING BAGS WHICH WE EXPORTED TO THE USA WERE BEING USED AS CAMERA BAGS BY NEW YORK PHOTOGRAPHERS.

Within weeks we had designed the System 1 camera bag and it is still being made today and called the 550.

find out more about the 550
Within weeks we had designed the System 1 camera bag and it is still being made today and called the 550.

All the camera bags at the time were hard cases and we received no encouragement or interest from any of the camera shops we visited.

Undeterred we produced an advert for the British Journal of Photography and offered our bags for sale by mail order.

We took our first stand at a photographic exhibition at Earls Court where we were fairly busy and were unexpectedly visited by some very famous photographers.

Lord Lichfield stopped by to see us and then returned with Terence Donovan and David Bailey.

LORD LICHFIELD STOPPED BY TO SEE US AND THEN RETURNED WITH TERENCE DONOVAN AND DAVID BAILEY.

LORD LICHFIELD STOPPED BY TO SEE US AND THEN RETURNED WITH TERENCE DONOVAN AND DAVID BAILEY.

Lord Lichfield won the bet he had with Terence Donovan that he could do a certain number of press-ups. The prize was to be - a System 1 which Terence duly bought and handed over.

Around the same time a very generous journalist/photographer Kevin Mcdonnell featured our bags several times in his articles for Practical Photography Magazine and we soon had a full order book.

BILLINGHAM CAMERA BAGS HAD STARTED TO TAKE OFF AND THE REST IS HISTORY AS THEY SAY.

explore our camera bags
_MARTIN BILLINGHAM_

Billingham camera bags had started to take off and the rest is history as they say. From there, Billingham began selling in retailers and to distributors and are now sold online and in stores worldwide. Over the years we have made bags for film crews, been featured in films and TV series and collaborated with camera brands such as Hasselblad, Leica and Olympus. Billingham is frequently featured in magazines and online articles and is renowned in the photography industry.

Of course, as with most small companies it is never plain sailing. The ups have been spectacular at times and so have the downs.

We are so lucky to have travelled a great deal and met so many amazing photographers and loyal Billingham fans. We have always focused on people and approached everyone, customers, material suppliers and our amazing employees with respect and integrity and we hope this shows through our products which we are very proud of.

MARTIN BILLINGHAM

_MARTIN BILLINGHAM_
THE MAKING OF A BILLINGHAM BAG THE MAKING OF A BILLINGHAM BAG

THE MAKING OF A BILLINGHAM BAG

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