Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

Croydon Camera Club History 1890-1918
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Review from today

Such then is an outline of the early history of the Croydon Camera Club. Materials for reconstructing the picture of our earliest days are scanty, the Minutes when entered (which was not always done) are brief and bald and lacking in fullness of statement. But we have at any rate sufficient evidence to show that the early members were very much in earnest, that they investigated and criticised every aspect of Photographic activity and apparently took themselves very seriously.

Amongst the earliest activities of the Club were the Summer outings conducted nearly always by one member who knew the district to be visited, or had gone out previously to explore the route and its photographic possibilities. Gomshall and Shere and the neighbourhood were favourite happy hunting grounds. quite a number of these Outings are recorded in the early days and it is clear that members were getting together, as we say, that they regarded themselves as members of a Club and were developing the Club sense and Club spirit.

Our modern Club and especially a Club like ours whose members are all interested in one way or another in the practice and development of a special Art or Craft is, I think, we may claim the modern substitute for it the old Guild or Brotherhood of Craftsmen. Happily our modern notions regarding membership are not so narrow as they were in the Middle Ages when the old Guilds flourished, we no longer insist that an aspirant for membership shall demonstrate his skill before the whole Club as a condition precedent to his admission. We do not, for example, make him expose a plate and produce a portrait of the President, though it might be distinctly humourous if we did !

If it be correct then to claim descent from the older Guilds then here I think a word of warning may not be out of place. The Middle Age Guild was concerned solely with its own members, it was intensely specialised and sectional, jealous in guarding what it considered to be the claims and privileges of its own group. Such an attitude may have been the best in those days, it is a point we need not stop to discuss, but we must remember that the world has changed since then and that at a power of adaptation is a priceless gift to possess in this complex civilization of ours today. Photography, in which we are all interested, has now become so many-sided that our aim should be to attract anyone who has an interest in any one of its aspects. This we know is not easy of accomplishment in a Club of comparatively few members such as ours, since if we begin to cut ourselves into sections we run the risk of introducing a spirit of cliqueism which at any cost must be avoided.

But we need not fear this so long as we find community of interest and subjects to argue about and even wrangle about in our characteristic Croydon fashion of light-hearted seriousness.

And now to round off this rather fragmentary story of our Club let us take a glance at the future. For the near future we need have no misgiving, we are essentially healthy and stronger than we were during the years between the Wars and may well look forward with confidence to further prosperity. But speculation as to the more distant future has been done for us by one whose powers of prevision are simply wonderful.

Being desirous of giving you the very best in the way of prognostication I recently consulted Madame Foolyodlum the celebrated Seer of Surrey Street. I paid the fee she demanded and said I wanted to know what sort of a place the Club would be ten years hence. She pocketed the fee and then fell into a trance and it required several applications of a colourless liquid to revive her. It looked like water but was obviously something stronger. On coming out of the trance she exclaimed “How jolly"; she told me many things that were strictly confidential but she said the following items might be released for public consumption.

"Many changes, she began, will take place during the next ten years not only at your Club but everywhere else. But your Club, she continued, will break all previous records in regard to change and expansion. In ten years time you will have a membership running into four figures; she forgot to add that there might be a decimal point somewhere in the middle! You will be holding Exhibitions of pictures in colour and though there may be a section for monochrome work it will be looked upon as a great curiosity. There will be no need to book Lecturers or Demonstrators as you will see and hear them on your Television apparatus which will have the great advantage that the Lecturer will not be able to hear the comments made by members at the end of his talk. As you will be subsidised by the Government all subscriptions will be abolished and refreshments will be free to members and their families”.

I think she would have told me more but I was so overcome by these words that I swooned away and I recall no more until I found myself standing at one of the Stalls filling my pockets with monkey nuts and a Policeman regarding me with grave suspicion.

And so to Bed !