Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

Croydon Camera Club History 1890-1918
Struggling momentum

Both the generosity of the young Club and the changed conditions between then and now are illustrated by the fact that the Club very early in its existence decided to allow the use of its rooms to "tourists cyclists and others who might be passing through the town". Presumably the use of the Dark room only was intended though the Resolution speaks of the "Club rooms." It conjures up visions of hot and dusty tourists and cyclists arriving at the Club and being offered bread and cheese and a glass of beer with a friendly word or two and a few coppers to cheer them on their way.

No mention is made of sleeping accommodation so we may conclude that none was intended, but I think the spirit that prompted this generous offer was an early indication of the hospitality for which the Club has since become known, a reputation of which we are justly proud.

About this time the Minute Book is very badly kept, the entries are scrappy and one cannot help feeling that many things happened and were discussed of which we should like to know more, maybe, some interesting tit bits of Club history were not even recorded.

Nor is the next year fruitful as regards the Club's activities, and it would seem that the young Society was struggling along under many difficulties and not meeting with such success as the founders had hoped for.

Financial worries figure largely in the early days and it is surprising to find that even with newly elected members of a newly established Club there was considerable difficulty in getting subscriptions paid.

We have it recorded this year (1891) that the first demonstration of the Carbon process was given by Burton and Braham, the latter gentleman became an annual visitor and we all enjoyed a "Carbon" evening.

But there is one peculiar entry this year to which we may call attention, since it is the first of several in later years of some interest. We find it noted that a framed portrait of the President Hector Maclean was presented to the Club by one of the members, a Mr. Plimmer.

In 1896 Sandell (of Sandell film fame) who became a member in 1890 presented two photographs, presumably by himself, of the S. S. Ormuz and which were shortly afterwards suitably framed by one of the members and in the following year he gave a picture of the interior of the Old Parish Church, the report speaking of "a fine mounted photograph.”

The next year an enlarged photograph of the Old Chain Pier, Brighton was presented to the Club by a Mr. Taylor from a negative made by him, as the report says, just after the great storm.

The same year Horsley Hinton offers to present one of his pictures for the walls of the Club room, and although I can find no reference to the picture being received I think we may assume that it was in fact delivered and acknowledged with suitable thanks.

Again this year we find it recorded that a handsome Salver was presented by Mr. Linton. Now the curious thing with regard to these presents is that they had all disappeared long before we left George Street and being Club property it is, to say the least, rather mysterious. What has become of them no man can say.

In 1897 a proposal was made and discussed as to the formation of a Ladies section. The discussion produced no definite result, the question was adjourned and apparently was never raised again.

Public lantern displays, and the Ladies Banjo Team

We may remember in this connection that throughout the early years of its existence the Club was constantly giving Lantern displays either at the Public Hall or the Braithwaite Hall, getting good slides from its own members and from well known Lecturers and other slide makers, charging for admission, getting good audiences and on nearly every occasion making some small profit for the benefit of Club funds.

At these displays ladies were almost always in evidence as helpers contributing musical items during the evening. We find more than once reference is made to them and the thanks of the Club offered for a Team of Lady Banjoists. It would appear that during the first eleven years the Club held no fewer than 61 Lantern shows either publicly or in the club rooms.

The next few years appear to have been rather uneventful, the Club kept going; but was marking time instead of making progress. Nearly all the time the Treasurer was faced with a deficit. The President on more than one occasion had helped financially.

Lectures were given during the winter though not every week as members seem to have been ardent slide makers in those days and were anxious to have them shown, indeed some member or members could always be relied on to have a few slides in their pockets in case of necessity.

In May 1895 we find the first mention of a Rummage Sale, these continued regularly for years afterwards and the evening of the Sale was one of the most hilarious and enjoyable of all Club fixtures. In July of that year Anti-halation plates were first introduced to the Club and their merits debated upon.

A Lantern evening at the Club in the following year is interesting since the Ladies Banjo Team is again mentioned and thanks are tendered to a Miss Chambers who brought the Team. Says the report: "It gave great satisfaction" and goes on to describe how the Banjo Team was photographed by flashlight, the plate developed in the Dark room by one Jenkins, a lantern slide made fixed and dried and thrown on the screen later in the evening much to the delight of the ladies of the Team. And no wonder!

Regarding these Lantern evenings a certain Doctor Hobson had been secured to give a lecture on "The Whitgift Hospital" and a large gathering of members and friends filled the room to hear him and to enjoy a very fine set of slides which he is reputed to have made. "Unfortunately says the report, the gas gave out and the lecture had to be postponed." Those who remember those old days will agree that it was rather remarkable that gas should give out!