Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

Croydon Camera Club History: 1890-2000

Riots! Police! 1931

Quiet Christmas 1930

The approach to Christmas 1930 was marked with a poor selection of work for a "Seasons Greetings" competition on 26th November and on New Year's Eve the meeting was abandoned due to sparse attendance and a "Smoking Concert" with artists planned for 1st January 1931 cancelled through lack of support. The cancellations were not usual for the times as contrary to today when the seasonal holiday extends through New year's Day, in 1930 it was not a public holiday and attendance at activities could have been expected.

On 21st January 1931 and "probably for the first time in the history of the Club a lecture on Press Photography was given by Mr R.S. Mills Tanner, one of the most well known press photographers in the Street".

Leica's new camera uses 35mm film

Mr H. Bedford Lemare President of the Professional Photographers' Institute gave a lecture on 4th February on his business methods and demonstrated his use of a 12"xl0" plate camera for his architectural work and, having no doubt impressed all with the absolute necessity of a plate camera for serious work, a week later members saw Messrs Leitz provide a demonstration of their new "Leica" camera using 35mm film and which for many years in the future would be referred to as a "miniature" camera. This was the Club's first introduction to the Leica photographic system so completely different from that of the Plate or Cut film camera. That members' interest was aroused will be seen by the increasing lectures on this aspect in the ensuring years.

At the AGM on 18th February the President, John Keane, resigned after 17 years, no doubt reflecting the sadness felt by the recent death of his first son, who was a member of the Club. And so D.C. Rowlett was elected in his place. A.E. Witty continued as Secretary. Thanks were expressed to E.A. Salt for his continued weekly reports to the BJ, a task which had long ago earned him the title of "Office Boy", since he first made a contribution in 1897.

The meeting elected as Vice President the oldest member of the Club, A. E. Isaacs. The membership were not supporting meetings, outings or the Rummage Sale but beyond expressing concern no action was proposed other than to urge existing members to introduce new members to increase numbers and thereby attendances. Delegates were appointed to the Central Association: the Photographic Survey of Surrey and the Federation of Rambling Clubs, membership of the latter was to continue up to the outbreak of war in 1939 and was considered very worthwhile for the useful outings which arose there from.

New members; but no ladies

On 4th February John Erith a professional photographer with a Studio at 46 High Street joined and in later years all the well known professionals in town - Archie Handford, Howard King, Stanley Money, Tom Samson were all to become members.

The 11th March had Stewart Klitz as Auctioneer at the Rummage Sale and on 16th April "on this occasion Ladies were invited and the evening was an entire success". However there was no move to admit Ladies as a result and Croydon maintained its male dominance. Perhaps just as well for when F. P. Bayne visited on 29th April and showed some "High Key Photography" he was told by member John Erith that in his opinion not one of the Exhibits was really high key — a view endorsed by the President. Exit Mr Bayne not to be asked back. But if that turned out to be a disappointing talk could it be any less interesting than that by Dr G. H. Rodman on 28th October talking about "Observations on the Burnt Ash of Certain Plant Hairs". No wonder members stayed away!

Is photography art? Police called...

But before the arrival of Dr Rodman there was a remarkable meeting on 13th May when the discussion between members became so heated that "when an 'arm of the law' made his appearance the members came to the conclusion that it was time to cry 'halt'". Just how serious the rift was is not recorded but it started with Enoch Salt in his description of photographic Art declaring there were some good photographers who had never studied art, yet many pictorialists could not pick out a true artistic effort from a bad and the danger of most pictorialists was reducing Art to a set of rules.

The Minutes state "Mr Keane was the first to cross swords with Mr Salt" revealing the strength of feeling and then "Mr Rowlett took up the challenge with many straight from the shoulder hits". Could this be a polite way of saying "rubbish"? Many other members joined in before the police arrived. I wonder if this ever got into the newspapers? Suffice to say there was such poor support for the end of season competition on 20th May that it was abandoned and the following week both the President, D. C. Rowlett and Vice Chairman F. C. Reynolds were absent — recovering?

So ended the Winter Session to reopen after the Summer meeting on 7th October with the President of the RPS Mr Olaf Black giving a slide show of a climbing holiday in France reported as "Some of the finest photographs of Mountain Scenery ever shown at the Club".

A revolutionary appeared on 4th November when A. Elsey ARPS advocated the use of coloured mounts to avoid the sameness of the standard cream and white mounts. This visionary was 50 years before his time as he stood no chance in the 1930s when exhibition rules still stipulated "cream and/or white mounts are to be used".