Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

Croydon Camera Club History: 1890-2000

Cine! Ladies! 1934
Certificates of Merit are born

The Club continued its dalliance with cine and colour with a lecture on 24th October by Archie Handford, President of the Professional Photographers' Association on "16mm and Display Colour".

Up until 1934 it had been the Club's practice to award medals in bronze with an occasional silver medal for some outstanding achievement, but if one narrowly missed a Medal Award there was no recognition. "Spacky" offered to turn his artistic talents to designing a Certificate of Merit and the AGM on 21st February, 1934, happily accepted the offer. A block was cut and the certificates printed.

These certificates were hand-crafted with Roman lettering and a pictorial scene depicting two nude females which were the hallmark of Cyril Saunders Spackman, whose initials skilfully fit into the design. The block was mislaid in 1960 and for three years thereafter the Certificate was reproduced by photographic process, but was not well liked being on thin paper with a tendency to curl under heat. A new certificate was designed in 1964 but t'was a poor thing in comparison with the first issue. When the opportunity came with today's reproduction techniques to recreate the "Spacky" Certificate this was done and the original and distinctive Croydon style is with us again.

At this meeting it was agreed to establish a library of photographic books for members to borrow - it was to prove a constant source of irritation as no-one wanted to be the librarian!

Why won't members support Club activities!

One of the interesting facts of Club life in the 1930s was that although membership was at times over 100, the support the membership gave to Club activities was very low with some competitions having so few photographs entered as not to merit a medal award; and also lecturers facing such small attendances as to cause the President some embarrassment. Today when we face the same problem the excuse is radio, TV, or too many other activities. In the 1930s there was radio and the cinema, so what caused the "stay away"? The suggestion must be that it was the way the Club was run which was a source of dissatisfaction, for its management seemed a job for life. The President, John Keane, was first elected in 1916 and again in 1919, which position he held till 1944, except for two years (1931-32). The Treasurer, S. E. Whitaker, was appointed in 1929 and finally handed over in 1951. The Secretary, A. E. Witty held office from 1929 to 1946 and whilst regular people contributed to stability and a continuation of ideas and ideals, their presence stifled initiative.

Why then join the Croydon Camera Club? Simply because if you didn't you were a nobody in the photographic world. Whether that was true is immaterial, it is what was believed. And so eminent was the Club name that a Mr Gruby was disciplined for having printed on his business card "An Associate of Croydon Camera Club". At a Council meeting on 2nd March 1936, strong objection was taken to the Club name being used for advertising purposes and as a condition of continuing membership Mr Gruby had to give a written undertaking to stop the practice!

Superb Lectures

Towards the end of 1934, Stewart Klitz F. A., the Club Hon. Auctioneer, gave a lecture "Reminiscences of a 100,000 mile Sea Voyage" and early in 1935 on 23rd January, Norman Gryspeerdt ARPS, gave a demonstration of the "Bromoil" process which he still practises today. He gave a similar demonstration during the Club Centenary celebrations on 21st February, 1990.

Diverse subjects for meetings during the year were cine lectures by M. O. Coates "The Romance of Gas" made for the Croydon Gas Co Ltd. Kodak Ltd sent E. A. Robins FRPS to talk about "Spiders", Their Life History and Habits" and later he came again to show "Vesuvius and Pompeii" - voted by the President as "one of the finest lectures ever given to the Club". Lantern slide making was encouraged by R. R. Rankins, a member since 1909, whilst the President of the RPS, came on 2nd October to open the Winter Session 1935 with a lecture on "Amateur Portraiture".

Ladies membership rears its (ugly) head

The AGM on 20th February did not pass without controversy for E. Handel Lucas, member since the Club was founded in 1890 proposed that Ladies be admitted to membership. As there is no record that Ladies had been proposed for membership since the turn of the century, this proposal should have set the place on fire, but it apparently was swept under the carpet as all the Minutes state is "The question was raised as to admitting lady members to the Club, but the matter was allowed to drop". So closed the door on the Ladies, not to be pushed open until 1945. And, as if to emphasise the rejection of Ladies the Exhibition Catalogue for 1936 states "Membership is confined to men, and comprises amateurs, professionals, commercial photographers and others who, although not practical photographers, take an intellectual interest in the subject".

But 1935 was to continue with a demonstration by R. S. Beck on 27th February of the "Gevalux" paper with a stated fixing time of 20 minutes and washing one hour. A beautiful rich enlarging paper with a velvet surface capable of striking results and much used by devotees. The paper is now no longer available.

An unusual lecture "Magic in Trees" came from R. St Barbe Baker, founder of the Men of the Trees Society and later in the year, the Chairman of the Central Association, Herbert Pickwell FRPS, came on 20th November to give a lantern lecture on the "Pilgrims' Way". His visit was preceded by a lecture on the Contax Camera where H. B. Burdekin ARPS professed his opinion "in a few years nearly everyone would be using a miniature camera". He was a little out - for before the single lens reflex took hold in the 1970s there was the upsurge of the twin lens reflex, the Rolleicord etc.

Croydon still flirted with cine for F. G. Newmarch FRPS on 27th November gave a show, voted best amateur cine work ever seen in the Club", and when the 1936 Annual Exhibition came round on 5th February cine films were shown for the first time for many years.