Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

Croydon Camera Club History 1890-1918
The Great War

The years of the Great War (as we still call it) were years of diminished activities as well as of diminished lights. We carried on with decreased and decreasing members as the younger ones gradually left us to join the forces, some alas never to return, and with older men becoming gradually absorbed in one or other of the many kinds of War work that needed doing.

Photographic work, X-ray work and developing films and plates in the Croydon War Hospitals are examples of some of the work undertaken by several members, and great help and satisfaction was given to Hospital Staffs, The work was seldom done in comfortable conditions and it was always required to be done in a hurry, so that many a plate was handed out to an impatient Surgeon not quite fully fixed and in many cases not even washed.

Speaking of washing we are reminded of an episode at one of the Schools converted into a Hospital. A few of us were at work one Saturday afternoon fitting up shelving and so on in a snail room that had been assigned to us as a Dark room. It was explained to the bright genius who came down from H.Q., that we should need water for washing plates. "Sight, said he, you shall have a pail”. He looked rather puzzled when we pointed out that to wash the plates we should need running water nor was he quite convinced that this was really necessary, but in the end orders were given that a piece of piping should be fixed to the sink, a hole knocked in the wall, and the waste water allowed to flow down the nearest gully.

A list of articles needed for the work of the X-ray department, including photographic things, was made out and one may suppose, was scrutinised "by another bright spirit who decided that some of the articles specified were mere luxuries and could well be dispensed with. Accordingly when the materials arrived and we unpacked them, we found certain dishes and measures and a Winchester quart of Intensifying solution, - which is never used in X-ray work - "but no Hypo ! We were in despair especially as a big wig of a Surgeon was coming that day to inspect some new X-ray installation, One of us hurried off and after a long search managed to secure a pound of Hypo for which I think the charge was 1/6. Anyhow the Radiologist was able to Depose his plates, we developed and fixed them, the great man went away satisfied that his particular Hospital was well served (if not too well equipped) and all was well.

One might here make reference to the plates which were supplied by English -manufacturers arid their excellent Duality. The name of an old friend of the Club, Luboshez will be remembered in this connection for the work he did in improving films for X-ray work culminating with the really fine duplitized film still in use wherever X-ray work is done.

He carried on during those lean War years, little or no camera work was done, the carrying of cameras even being prohibited except in remote and out of the way places and even in unexpected spots one was liable to walk into an unsuspected military area, so that the only safe place to expose a plate was in one's own back garden, where in fact many portrait negatives were made of friends arid relatives dressed in a brand new uniform for the first time, or home on leave in a uniform that was no longer quite so spic and span.

Under the 'Covering of Lights Order’ the Club blinds had to be carefully drawn whenever we met. On one occasion, early in the War, an old member W. Dunmore paid us a visit from. Paris where he had established a Photographic Dealers business, he was in the middle of a very thrilling narrative of things ho had seen over there and telling us wonderful stories he had heard of spies and secret service, of shooting of traitors at dawn, and of the first Zeppelin raids on Paris. He impressed on us the importance of not disclosing anything he told us, and the frightful consequences that would happen to him and to all of us if we uttered a word of the great secrets he was disclosing. Suddenly footsteps were heard, then came a sharp rap, the door was flung open and there stood two Special Constables! Nobody was arrested, however, as they had only come up to warn us that they had seen a glimmer of light from one of the windows and urged us to be more careful. We began to breathe freely again, we offered some refreshment and all was well.

On another occasion we were getting towards the end of a Lantern lecture by a Reverend gentleman, one of our members who had secured the loan of a very special set of slides, when news was brought that a Zeppelin raid was on. The Lecture was rather hurriedly concluded, the slides packed and the Padre with some others went off to find a train. No sooner were they outside than the terrific noise of exploding bombs was heard; tucking the box of slides under his arm, the Padre darted for the shelter of the nearest doorway and it is recorded that on this occasion his language was extraordinary and most unclerical.