Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

Croydon Camera Club History: 1890-2000

The Great War

Harass the lecturers!

With the departure of Mees the firm of Wratten & Wainwright ceased in the same year that the introduction of flat film began the end of glass plate industry. The name Wratten did not disappear and exists today as a brand of filters. A grandson of the family, I. D. Wratten joined Kodak in the research laboratory under Dr Mees and upon returning to England to look after the UK operations he joined the RPS in 1937 and was elected President in 1951. As a Director of Kodak UK he accompanied Dr Mees on the visit to the Club in 1953. He became Deputy Chairman in 1957 and was elected Club Vice President on 25th May 1949. He died in 1988.

The Club continued to prosper and the regular reports of activities in the BJ contributed by E. A. Salt ensured it earned a well merited reputation all over the world, wherever the BJ circulated.

There was however a tendency at the Club not so much to acquire knowledge as to raise the lecturers' temper to boiling point in as little time as possible. There was a humane agreement amongst members that they would not rag the luckless visitor until he offered some provocation: this fortunately was always forthcoming sooner or later, upon which the assembled company would gleefully proceed to the business of the evening! Dr Mees mentioned this at the AGM in 1912 and pointed out that if this was allowed to develop it would have the inevitable effect of turning away good lecturers and others who might not have sufficient hardiness to beard photographic lions in their den. The warning was timely and any visitor now to the Club will be given a patient hearing so long as he knows his subject and does not try to play the heavy father!

The Great War

At the AGM in 1916 John Keane entered his first period as President till 1918. The Great War as it was then called was expected to be short-lived, but it was short lives for many members called to the colours and by 1916 numbers had fallen by half to 56 and insurance for 3/- was taken out against the Club Rooms being damaged by aircraft!

There was not much camera work done during this period from 1914-18 as photography generally was prohibited. Due to threatened Zeppelin raids the Club blinds had to be drawn to comply with the "Covering of Lights Order". During one such "closed" meeting a member W. Dunsmore came over from Paris where he had a photographic dealer's business and after telling some exciting experiences of spies, secret service and the shooting of traitors it occurred to him that his enthusiastic disclosures could land him and the listeners in serious trouble if repeated. He was just at the end of telling of the frightening consequences which would happen if secrecy was not maintained when suddenly footsteps were heard outside, then came a sharp rap, the door was flung open and there stood two special constables. No-one was arrested but the Club was asked to draw the curtains more tightly!

On another occasion a Zeppelin raid was notified and the lecture hurriedly concluded. The Reverend gentleman who had delivered the lecture boxed his slides and was making his was to the station with others when there was a terrific noise of exploding bombs. Ducking into a nearby door the Padre is recorded as uttering some extraordinary and unclerical language.

When not at the Club, members undertook photographic work, X-ray work, and the developing of films and plates in the Croydon War Hospitals to the great satisfaction of the hospital staff.

The bitterly cold winter of 1918 brought trouble in the form of a dripping tap in the Club room which caused the waste pipe to freeze and so flood the remainder of the building to the ire of the Landlord who, on demanding compensation, was told that he was fortunate the tap was dripping as that prevented the mains from freezing and bursting with even worse damage. Whether the Landlord accepted this is not known, except that by 1919 he was a member of the Club, at half rate and known "sensibly to have no interest whatever in photography".