Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

Croydon Camera Club History: 1890-2000

Dr. C. E. K. Mees Visits Croydon
Mr Handmarch "expelled"; a club of sinners!

The Annual Exhibition took place again in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall on 19th November in the presence of I. D. Wratten FRPS and President of the RPS.

On 11th February 1953, Stanley Money AIBP of Howard King Photographers and President of the Surrey IBP was elected a member. Then just before the AGM came the unusual situation of a member being expelled. Mr Handmarch had dared to protest at smoking obscuring the lantern projection: of prolonged drinking at the interval and of Club members interrupting lecturers. Upon it being found his subscription was in arrears he was "expelled from the Club".

At the AGM on 27th May, R. Ede was elected President and Miss N. Moon was elected Vice President of the Institute of British Photographers.

Dr Mees Visits, 9th September 1953

By mid-June it was known that Dr C. E. K. Mees intended to visit the Club in September. The interruptions by members of judges' commentary referred to by Mr Handmarch was considered but it was felt that "an evening which left those present sufficiently unmoved as to maintain silence was dead and unprofitable".

The dinner at the Cafe Royal in honour of Dr C. E. K. Mees was a most convivial and joyful occasion and his visit to the Club on 9th September is well documented in a full report in the B. J. dated 2nd October 1953, but mention must be made of the hilarity which occurred when the formal Club photograph was being taken by a Press photographer. His camera was observed slowly sinking to the ground as the tripod legs parted on the polished floor! Much cheered by this episode Dr C. E. K. Mees (Vice President of Kodak) and I. D. Wratten, Director of Kodak and a Vice President of the Club, reminisced about his early days (1901-12) with the Club and had all his words of wisdom recorded for posterity on tape. Many photographs were taken including a portrait of Dr Mees by two of the Club's top members, Sam Allard ARPS and Miss N. Moon ARPS.

Before he left Dr Mees returned to the Club for their records the Commemorative Album they had presented him on his departure for America in 1912.

Outstanding lectures during the Winter session were Charles Brown on 28th October "Photographing Aircraft" and Houston Rogers FIBP on 17th March 1954 "Photography in the Theatre".

Club refuses SLF as too serious to join

The South London Federation wrote inviting Croydon to rejoin but on 15th January 1954 it declined, arguing that the competitions were too serious and the zeal to win was alien to the spirit in which clubs should enter into meetings of such character. So Croydon stayed out!

Raffles and a Bulletin

Membership had dropped from 142 in 1951 to 96 and this showed in the finances with the Club running at a slight loss. The Secretary proposed on 24th April that positive steps to promote the wellbeing of the Club should be taken with more outings and more instruction for Beginners but the ensuing discussion was inconclusive. The Secretary on another occasion thought the Club would benefit by accepting the Croydon Director of Adult Education's request for assistance in running a course for Elementary Photography but Council members only agreed after detailed and searching discussion. On 11th June the Secretary suggested a Bulletin would be very useful in keeping the membership in touch with each other. It would cost £30 p.a. and would pay for itself if it introduced new members. Council rejected the idea on financial grounds as was his suggestion that raffles be held to help defray costs.

There is a suspicion now creeping in that the Hon Secretary was very perceptive regarding Club membership needing boosting but all his recommendations appear to be thwarted on the grounds that they could not be afforded. Was this be a case of "penny wise, pound foolish"?

On the 21st anniversary of the Club's tenure of The Studio on 29th March, Mrs Spackman provided a celebratory cake which was much appreciated by all concerned.

Winter Session 1954; of discontent

The Winter Session 1954 drew heavily on CA lecturers and judges as well as those sponsored by Kodak and Ilford and many regular visitors came along though the small attendances discussed at Council on 14th January 1955 showed that interest was not being sustained and the blame was felt to be that only a small part of the meeting time was devoted to formal business. It was suggested by the Secretary that practical evenings with a certain amount of social activities were needed to improve the Club. The President R. Ede said the discussion had been a waste of time and that "the membership was quite obviously happy and a small club was desirable". The Assistant Secretary Harold Stillwell objected strongly to the statement, and in a short and sharp response was supported by the Secretary. The two said they would promote such ideas whether supported by Council or not. It does now appear that all was not well with the management particularly when 30 members were struck off the register for non-payment of subscriptions.

Notable figures joining the Club however were A.F. Kersting FRPS (22.12.54) landscape photographer whose work featured regularly on the front of "Country Life", and Tom Samson AIBP (27 April 1955) of Archie Hanford, and now a trustee of the Club.

Also joining on the 27th April were two young men, Rex Moreton & Stuart Langdon, who presented Club competitions with wide angle work in heavy black and white tones, often on strongly coloured mounts; the first time such daring features had been seen by members, or visiting commentators, for that matter. They were 10 years ahead of conventional Club photography, and were practising a style not seen until the arrival of Photeurop in 1968.