Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

Croydon Camera Club History: 1890-2000

Freemasonry 1938

There then occurred on 28th January 1938 an event which had nothing to do with photography but which was to have an influence on the membership up to the present time. This was the founding of the Beaux Arts Lodge of Freemasonry. Reference has already been made to the artistic qualities of the Club landlord, Cyril Saunders Spackman FSA, who became a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1930 and who "let" The Studio for meetings of the South Eastern Society of Architects, a few of whom were also interested in photography and were members of Croydon Camera Club. The Lodge was founded principally by the SESA and open to membership for architects and allied professions. Regular meetings were held at The Studio for which purpose a peculiar and distinctive brass door knocker came into use. Thus did "Spacky" look over all Camera Club members with the intent of strengthening "his Lodge" and amongst those who were photographers first but eventually became Lodge Members were S. E. Whitaker ARICS, E. C. Rubie, A. J. Williams, B. F. Stewart, A. E. Marshall, and S. G. Pickford FRIBA, resulting in the intertwining circles of photography / / architecture / Freemasonry to the mutual benefit of each.

To start 1938 Mr W. Buckstone of Kodak gave a lecture on "The Evolution of the Cine Camera" and at the conclusion showed a 16mm cine Kodak explaining its workings. The President in his proposal of thanks reminded the lecturer that W. Friese-Greene the "Inventor of Kinematography" was an honorary member of the Club.

The AGM on 23rd February 1938 had John Keane proposed for re-election as President. "One could search the world and not find a better president than John Keane". High praise indeed for a man so justly deserving of the term of President. The Treasurer and Secretary were re-elected.

First Exhibition Silver Cups

At The Exhibition for the first time in the Club's history a Silver Cup was awarded for the best print in the Exhibition, to S. E. Whitaker. Known as "The Newton Cup", it was presented by J. Newton who joined the Council on 2nd March 1937. There is no record of any special qualities for Mr Newton, so it seems somewhat strange that a relative newcomer could persuade the Club to depart from a "medals only" policy since inception in 1890 and accept a cup named after himself. Surely there were at that time more eminent personalities - to have had a trophy in their name - i.e. John Keane, E. A. Salt, Dr Mees, W. Friese-Greene to name but a few! None however has been so recognised.

In an attempt to remove what some members saw as the stranglehold of "the Establishment" from Council, there was a proposition that two members of Council should retire each year and so enable new faces to appear, but the general opinion was that "no useful purpose would be served". This subject was again raised by Mr Morgan at a Council meeting on 18th August 1939 and it was decided to discuss it further at the next meeting. This meeting took place on 14th February 1940 and does not record any such discussion!

On 16th March 1938 "an enjoyable evening was spent at the Studio when about 35 members attended a Smoking Concert. Refreshments were provided and the programme contributed to by several members".

It was agreed that the next Annual Exhibition should have a cine section and to promote interest on 20th April H. J. Hibbert FRPS gave a lecture on "Movies and How They Are Made" and explained the difference between the Dufay and Technicolour processes.

The Council meeting on 27th April 1938 elected H. G. Trodd as a member, little anticipating the influence on the photographic work this member would have in the next 50 years. "Troddy" as he became affectionately called, never aspired to administrative capacity but by his inspired work and his skill in the Bromoil field acted as the stimulus so necessary in Croydon, for the membership of 118 still needed prodding to support events. "Troddy" remained a member until his death on 30th September, 1987.

The Club library

The Club library established four years earlier was not being well supported and another £5 of books was to be purchased. With 5 guineas to the RPS and £5 of books it was evident that Club funds were in a satisfactory condition, reflected by the substantial membership, and by further subscription, a silver cigarette case and a sum of money was presented to F. W. Berry for his many years' service as Club Steward. In this year the President John Keane was elected Chairman of the Central Association of Photographic Societies.

One month later at another Council meeting the library was considered not worth supporting and the 5 book purchase was rescinded. Could it be that the cigarette case cost too much?

Munich Crisis cancels Switzerland trip

The summer of 1938 might have been an anxious period for international politics but stability at home seemed to continue and in keeping with the membership numbers, Council opined on 28th August that outings should be more ambitious than the present system of a motorcade to local places. At the suggestion of Conrad Kiefer a visit to Switzerland in August 39 was agreed, and arrangements were authorised to be put in hand. However by 28th November the Council decided to put the matter on "hold" on account of the Munich crisis. When on 6th February 1939 the travel arrangements were presented to Council they decided to take "no action" and nothing further is recorded. There is no record either of where in Switzerland the Club had proposed to go or by what route, for whilst train travel was by far the commonest method there were at this time good services from Croydon Airport to Switzerland.