Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

Croydon Camera Club History: 1890-2000

Highs and Lows, 1936
John Keane: President of everything!

At the AGM membership stood at 94 and John Keane was again elected President and added to the reputation of the Club by also being elected President to the Photographers' Convention of the UK, which was founded in 1886 "for the advancement of Photography, and to afford opportunities amongst those interested in the Art, from all parts of the UK and Overseas". Our President vas also elected onto the Council of the Central Association to which organisations he became President (1938-42) - the only President to hold office for four consecutive years. It was to be another 34 years before Croydon had a member as President, S. G. Pickford FRIBA.

Croydon was renowned for its votes of thanks to visitors which were effusive and fulsome for enjoyable evenings, and equally derogatory if the speaker had fallen below standards set by the Club. On 29th January Major Charles Howard FRGS after showing lantern slides of "A Holiday in the Italian Lakes", was told his slides did-not do justice to the-wonderful scenes, but the comments made up for any deficiency in that direction!

Innovation: Members judge prints

An innovation took place on 26th March when for the first time prints were displayed on screens and commented on by members for discussion.

Throughout the year lectures and talks evolved around the march of the "miniature" camera and the growing interest and availability of colour slide material. On 6th May E. G. Salt asked "Will Colour Supercede Monochrome?" and the same question remains unanswered 50 years on but the President's remarks hold good: "A good piece of monochrome work would always find a place and be admired".

Kodak Ltd sent S. T. Ternowth to lecture on "The Kodachrome Process" and for members' education they learnt on 29th April about "The Romance of the Sewing Machine" from P.N. Bullock. A fortnight later Norman Gryspeerdt gave a talk on "Mountaineering" with Conrad Kiefer, Club Treasurer from 1925-29, and illustrated with amusing sketches. Conrad was always providing drawings at the drop of a hat and up to the time of his death in 1975 could be relied upon to illustrate his letters.

Membership drops

The administration came under discussion at a Council meeting on 31st August with concern expressed at so many new members resigning. The general opinion was that the atmosphere of The Studio was not conducive to the best interests of the Club and the Secretary was instructed to make enquiries about alternative accommodation.

So the Studio did not seem to be the affectionate place that it assumed in later years and after only three years the Club was looking for another home. The search did not appear however to have been carried out with much enthusiasm by the President, who eventually reported to Council on 4th January 1938 that "several rooms had been inspected by him and none found suitable", whereupon it was decided to take no further action.

That the President John Keane was a strong personality cannot be in doubt when the meeting of 31st August 1935 reported that the Secretary had not renewed the Club advertisement in the Royal Photographic Society Exhibition Catalogue, thus saving 30/- to be set against a trading loss on the last year's accounts. The Club records read: "This was overruled by the President who felt the Club should support him as he was on the RPS Council".

From the foregoing the Council considered the resignation of new members was due to The Studio and not the officials for failing to make members welcome. But the personalities of the management lead one to think differently, a conclusion not helped by the complaint made 14 years later at the AGM on 25th May 1950 that new members were not made to feel at home: the Club's response was that this was entirely new members' fault in not introducing themselves, as officers were too busy with their duties to attend to them! This seems to confirm the fault lay not with the room but management. For all that turnover, Croydon remained the magnet for the area and continued to attract an increasing membership and top rate speakers.

The Winter Session had the 7th October meeting addressed by the President of RPS on "The Camera Cannot Lie", followed the next week by Howard Coster on "Portraiture", who severely criticised members for lack of originality. This was a bad mistake at Croydon for when Mr Coster showed examples of his own work members told him they were but clever reproductions and not greatly admired!

Balin Transmitter demonstration: an early fax

On 4th November two photographers from The Daily Mirror showed a "Balin Transmitter" which permitted photographs to be sent over a telephone line in 10 to 12 minutes. ("Pity they hadn't heard of Fax"!) A week later J. Ridley showed his cine film "Private Life of a Swallow Tail Butterfly", which was so beautifully made that it was shown to the Club on several occasions in the next 10 years.