Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

Croydon Camera Club History: 1890-2000

1942-5 The War Ends
Membership plummets; it's the War

In July 1942 several members exhibited prints in the Town Hall in support of King Haakon appeal for Norway. AT the 16th September meeting it was decided that the Club meetings during the winter would be on Sunday afternoon but from the subsequent dates it would appear this was not implemented and Wednesday continued regularly into 1943 with the report of a visit on 17th January by a lecturer ill with flu who gave "A little chat on photographic matters with nothing in particular" which seemed somewhat unkind for a man who gallantly came so as not to disappoint his audience when perhaps he would rather have stayed in bed!

The AGM was held on 3rd March 1943 but the membership of 119 would appear to be a paper figure as the Accounts showed 75 subscriptions unpaid! The hope was expressed that when those members returned at the end of hostilities the money would be recovered. By some juggling of figures the year ended with a surplus of £8.9/6d. The President, Secretary and Treasurer were re-elected though John Keane had not been well enough to attend any meetings. It was announced with regret that E. A. Salt was ill. There was no further business as "the meeting was hurriedly concluded as an air raid was in progress!

In spite of the risk of these interruptions regular meetings at fortnightly intervals continued and the reports were as vitriolic as circumstances deemed. For example when on 19th May T. F. Dowden gave a lantern lecture on "The Western Highlands and Hebrides" it was stated "More interest was shown in his slides than his rambling remarks - but his was a rambling holiday"!

Plethora of Presidents

Quite a few meetings were devoted to cine and C. W. Watkins FRPS of the Wimbledon Cine Club was frequent visitor. Stephen Whitaker gave a lantern lecture on "Canterbury Cathedral" on 18th August and at the next meeting C. S. Spackman talked about "Composition". On 21st November two lady models came for a portrait evening and the resulting pictures were judged on 19th December by R. A. Wiltshier, described as a "new member" having joined in May. Mr Wiltshier eventually held dual membership with neighbouring Sutton CC, where he became their President in 1944 a position held until he retired aged 92. The duality of belonging to both clubs was continued after the war by Edwin Appleton the present President of Sutton CC, and Raymond Duthoit who joined on 16th October, 1969, and is current Chairman of Sutton CC. Clifford Millborrow (who later joined the Club on 16th March, 1964) visited on 19th January 1944 and gave a talk on "Industrial Photography" a subject which he would repeat in the Centenary Year.

E. A. Salt dies

With much regret, on the 14th December 1943 E. A. Salt died after 43 years' membership of the Club. His photographic career started in the 1880s when he joined the Platinotype Company of which W. H. Smith was General Manager (and also a member of the Club), and he remained in charge of their printing department until the business ceased, by which time he was past the age when he could hope to take up another occupation and he was perforce to retire and make the best of things on a very small income.

He was best known in the Club as "The Office Boy" on account of his weekly reports in the British Journal of Photography, often with witty remarks and occasional pungent criticism. He had an intensive knowledge of optics and left a perpetual memorial to the Club in the form of the Salt Shutter Tester. In 1941 Enoch was rendered unconscious by enemy action and taken to hospital to end his days in depressing surroundings that must have been terribly hard to bear for one of so cheerful and social a disposition.

The Club decided there should be a tangible form of Memorial in his name, to be presented annually. When this topic was referred to at the AGM on 19th April it was linked with a Trophy to be named after John Keane whose resignation was accepted with regret due to ill health. The new President elected was J. T. Morgan with the Treasurer and Secretary re-elected, and it was decided that the form of commemoration to Mr Keane and Mr Salt would be left to the next meeting of Council. Their decision at the meeting on 1st May was quite extraordinary for after agreeing that the recognition of John Keane would be the creation of a Presidential Badge to the design of "Spacky", there was no mention of any form of memorial to E. A. Salt and the matter never came up again. So the Club for reasons not known, marked the passing of a venerated member giving long and faithful service by failing to commemorate his memory. It would be appropriate in this Centenary Year for this omission to be rectified.

Junior, Intermediate, and Advanced Competitions

The new President made his mark after the 11 years' reign of John Keane by proposing that Outings be resumed and that the print competitions held in the last year should be on a more regular basis. He also suggested that someone should be appointed to introduce new members to help them feel more at home but the AGM would have none of it and decided that new members should help themselves by making the introduction to other members. Membership stood at 125 and the Accounts showed a deficit of £3.14/9d. It was agreed to meet on the first and third Wednesdays in each month and on 31st May Council set up the form for the Monthly Print Competition on the first Wednesday for the Best Print in each of three classes; Junior, Intermediate and Advanced. The first ever competition took place on 7th June and it was a great success. From such an occasion developed the pattern of a monthly Print Competition which exists today.

Unfortunately, shortly afterwards the Secretary's house was damaged by enemy action and he had to be evacuated and there were no records kept of the Club activities until he returned to record the happenings from the beginning of 1945.

S. H. Wratten dies

The Print Competitions were still well attended and at the AGM on 7th March 1945 J. T. Morgan was re-elected together with the Secretary and Treasurer. The President moved that ladies be admitted to the Club but the Secretary said it was unfair to propose such a radical change with so many members absent with no opportunity to vote, and the motion was withdrawn. But the President was not to be dissuaded; he was only biding his time. He asked for outings to be resumed and affirmed that a monthly newsletter started as a trial three months ago to keep in touch with members, would now be issued quarterly. The deaths were noted of S. H. Wratten, son of the founder of the famous platemakers Wratten and Wainwright and also of H. Bedford Lemare who joined his father's specialist architectural photography business in 1881. By 1895 the firm was employing four photographers and advertising it had 50,000 views for sale. Bedford Lemare exploited the growing market for contemporary architecture and his use of 12x10 plates continued for three-quarters of a century up to his death. Because of the demands of business his attendance at the Club was sporadic but the influence of his work was greatly appreciated and it was on the foundation of his style that architectural photography in black and white was to reach great heights in the 1930s by the exponents Dell and Wainwright. A number of prints are retained by Tom Samson.

Peace at last

A "Brains Trust" was suggested for the Summer Syllabus and one took place on 20th June but what the subjects were is not recorded. In fact during this period in Club history the full reports of each meeting lapsed probably because the Secretary was getting tired - he had held office since 1929. Perhaps too because with a change of President the old requirement of a full record was not deemed necessary. Suffice to say the Club continued to meet fortnightly at The Studio and with peace in Europe declared on 8th May, 1945, the Club felt the time appropriate to plan for the postponed Jubilee dinner, now to be called "Reunion Supper", as food rationing still existed.

The concentration on local events, lectures and competitions continued and it might be significant that for almost 12 months there was no cine lecture.