Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

Croydon Camera Club History: 1890-2000

Member Prestige: 1900-1904

Members are the "crème de la crème"

In 1901 the Honorary Secretary was one Enoch E. Salt who since 1897 had regularly reported the Club's activities to the British Journal of Photography. His wit and sharp words concerning any over-zealous member were to be responsible in years to come for a shattering of the infant Club. After 10 years' existence the Club had its own premises; local manufacturers and not so local were using members to test their products and evaluate them (Wratten plates and Sandell films), whilst the prestige of the Club attracted as Vice Presidents the Major of Croydon, Sir David Salomans (Bart), the Right Hon. C.T. Ritchie MP, Sir Frederick Edridge JP and James Glaisher Esq. FRS. The latter gentleman was in his 93rd year and when the Great Exhibition was staged in Hyde Park in 1851 he served as one of the Selectors for Photographic Exhibits. In 1860 he founded the Meteorological Society and in 1866 he helped to form the Aeronautical Society. In 1869 in succession to Lord Chief Baron Sir Frederick Pollock PC: MA: C: First Baronet — who served as Second President of the Photographic Society from 1855-69, James Glaisher FRS was elected the Third President for next 12 months, and was re-elected in 1875 to 1892. Hence very early in its history the Club had as a member one who had been President of the Photographic Society of Great Britain, an honour which was not to come again to Croydon until Sir George Pollock, great grandson of Sir Frederick, became President in 1978.

Under Secretary E.A. Salt, the Minutes of Club meetings were now well written and the 11th Annual Dinner held at "The Greyhound" in the High Street had among the guests Sir Frederick Edridge (afterwards Mayor of Croydon), Professor Whitaker, the eminent geologist, and from Bedford Park, Croydon, Ernest Howard Farmer, who became known for his celebrated "Farmer's Reducer", a standard formula still in general use. There were excellent songs given by members and visitors and card tricks by the Honorary Secretary. Home entertainment indeed.

The Fourth Annual Exhibition was held at the Art Gallery, Croydon on 27th February 1901 at which ''Moving Photographs" of the funeral of the late Queen Victoria were shown.

Mr Kenneth Mees joins the Club

In April 1901 Mr Kenneth Mees joined the Club at the age of 19. He had just started research work at University College in collaboration with S. E. Sheppard on the "Theory of Photographic Processes" and was in the habit of talking about photography to D.P. Roberts who ran a large chemist shop at 130 North End. Mr Roberts suggested he join Croydon Camera Club, who little knew that this "precocious upstart" would ultimately become a director of Kodak, USA. His suggestion for a developer containing both hydroquinone and resorcin was published in the BJ in 1901 but upon finding resorcin was of little value, retracted the suggestion this be used. Such an admission caused the old hands in the Club to scoff at this youngster, who was undeterred both in his research and support of the Club.

Membership had now risen to 113 and the new faces were questioning the administration, but at the AGM in 1902 the success of the Club was marked by the presentation of a handsome salver and cigarette case to the President inscribed: "given as a mark of appreciation and esteem of the interest taken by him in the Club as its President since its formation in 1890". The meeting sang with considerable force and expression "For he's a jolly good fellow" and then dispersed. MacLean must have felt secure yet within two years he was to be forced to resign. In 1902 The Photographic Survey and Record of Surrey was founded with Hector MacLean as first Secretary. Club members contributed prints and slides throughout its existence until wound up in 1954. With over 10 000 prints and several hundred glass plates held in the Croydon Reference Library it is a unique record of the County in the first 50 years of this century.

The Boer War was a deserving cause for charity and the Club raised £82.15.0d for comforts for the "Khaki Troops". (Equivalent to about £9,000 at today's (1990) rates).

Kodak "officially" admonished

Also at about this time the Club became embroiled with the Kodak Company and condemned its practice of not supplying its goods to any dealer who stocked goods of other manufacturers. On a proposition by Mr Allbright and seconded by Mr Isaac it was unanimously resolved "that the CCC, whilst fully recognising the services rendered by the Kodak Co to photographers, deplores the threatened importation into this country of methods of trading opposed to British ideas of fair play and can only regard the Company's actions as an attempt to establish an injurious monopoly". The Company reply being not satisfactory it was resolved to tell Kodak so. Unfortunately the correspondence thereafter has not been preserved, but no doubt Croydon cannot have been on Kodak's "approved" list for some years to come.

This may have been of little consequence had the proposed amalgamation of Eastman Kodak of New Jersey and Ilford Ltd taken place in 1903 but the directors of Ilford capitalised at £380,000 had underestimated Kodak capitalised at £4,948,598 and their suggestion to amalgamate failed. What would the world of photography have been like had they succeeded?