Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

Croydon Camera Club History 1890-1918
Surging Ahead, 1903

A few "brief references to one or two outstanding events may bring this sketch nearer up to date but before dealing with them let us refer to the election in 1903 of certain officers of the Club to be known as "Wardens.” What their peculiar functions were to be we are not told nor were they continued by subsequent election. Whether they were intended to help the President in maintaining order or to eject unruly members, or merely to keep a watchful eye on the Refreshment table and see that every man contributed his share to Club profits we do not know, the functions of these Wardens were not defined or at least not specified in the Minute Book. Certain powers they had because we find it recorded that on one occasion they gave notice that as the rooms were going to be cleaned, all bottles and apparatus belonging to members should be removed within a week as otherwise the same would be destroyed.

Dr Mees

In November of 1906 Mees obtained his degree of D.Sc. and received the congratulations of the Club, and it was proposed and carried that Mees and Sheppard should be made Hon. Life members for their research work in Photography. They were the first to offer Photographic research for the D.Sc. degree.

No story of the old Club would be complete without a reference to the introduction of the Panchromatic plate by Wratten and Wainwright. This new and valuable advance and improvement on the older ordinary or ortho plate was due entirely to the experiments and trials of our Dr. Mees, he had joined the old Croydon firm of Wratten and Wainwright whose works were in Canterbury Road. Week after week during a period of trial and error he would bring up a sample packet of new plates and ask some of the old hands to take them out, expose them and report the result after careful development. This was considered to be supplementary to a laboratory test, it was a test by those who would eventually use the plate, and yielded important information.

The years succeeding down to the outbreak of the First World War, although not marked by any outstanding events, were years of steady and continuous progress.

Worldwide Reputation

Every week there appeared a report in the B.J. of the lectures and demonstrations, written by Salt who became known as the office boy, members were full of enthusiasm, free to follow the development of Photography without competing interests, new plates, papers, material and new developers were constantly being produced and these afforded plenty of scope for investigation and discussion.

But about this time when the club had earned a well merited reputation, and thanks to the regular reports in the B.J. which made it known all over the world wherever the B.J. circulated there grew up a risk that, like some other Clubs, and notably like one that has long ceased to exist a spirit of nagging lecturers might grow up. The matter was referred to at one of our Annual General Meetings (I think by Dr. Mees) who pointed out that if this were allowed to develop it would have the inevitable effect of driving away good lecturers and others who might not have sufficient hardihood to face Photographic lions in their den. The warning perhaps was timely, anyhow no one today coming as a stranger to lecture or demonstrate has the slightest need to fear his reception, on the contrary he is sure of a warm welcome, of the best hospitality the Club can afford, and of a patient hearing so long as he knows his subject arid doesn't try to play the heavy father. Nor will he have to complain of somnolency in his audience, or a melancholy reception of what he has to say but will go away with a pleasant memory of light hearted seriousness prevailing in Croydon. He will go away feeling that he has been among friends where the spirit of unity and good fellowship prevails and where what any one member knows is the common property of all.

Editor’s Note:

At a meeting, I think In 1903, a demonstration of a developing tank was given to the Club by E. E. Blake on behalf of Kodak Limited. Blake was not a meek man, and in the discussion, which was rather vigorous, he attempted to score off some of the members. The result was that Blake was handled quite roughly verbally, and as he was going out of the Club, he said to me: "I thought this was an amateur club; it’s a lot of ----- platemakers!" When I joined Kodak Limited, in 1912, I met Blake, but he didn't recall our former acquaintanceship until in 1924. I said to him, apropos of nothing: "Do you remember the Croydon Camera Club, Ernie?" to which he replied: "My God, you were the ----."