Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

Croydon Camera Club History: 1890-2000

Years 1970-1972
"Friends of Photeurop"

The AGM on 27th May 1970 reported membership holding at approximately 120 and the Club drawing breath after staging the 10th Photeurop Exhibition, which had swallowed up in cost all the investment provided by Sir George Pollock who had now resigned from the Chairmanship of the Photeurop Committee and been replaced by Harold Stillwell on whom would fall the raising of funds during the next 10 years to sufficient level to pay for the next time Croydon organised the event in 1977. During this period a fund raising attempt "Friends of Photeurop" was started in May 1971 but failed to stimulate much interest outside the Club where even ardent supporters got a bit tired of being asked for their monthly contribution. Even the Grand Draw for a Pentax or similar camera every six months did not produce a striking profit and finance was a constant worry. Harold Stillwell became increasingly unhappy by late 1971 with the nationalistic trend of the Continentals and the level of co-operation being given by the French Club; and in January 1972 he resigned and Sir George Pollock stepped back again and attempted to inject more enthusiasm.

To a few in the Club, the pictures in Photeurop were outstanding and the best work around: to others the pictures were too adventurous and a fashion which would fade with time. This group by far the greater proportion of the membership (and totally wrong in their perception) viewed the concentration of the Club effort on Photeurop as unjustified and expressed their dismay by resigning from the Club and the defection saw membership drop by over 30 in three years. Croydon bit the bullet in November 1972 when it finally accepted it could not fund the 13th Photeurop Exhibition in 1972/3.

Membership responsibilities... yet again

But let us return to 1970 when in May the Club dropped its publicity efforts at the Croydon Library as no member was willing to deliver prints for display and worse, the members themselves were not producing the work. A similar lack of interest extended to the new members where in the absence of volunteers Council decided it was a Club responsibility to make new members welcome and not the individual. Abandoned too were new members as each Club member decided it was another member's responsibility and thus no-one looked after the new member and the Club slipped back 40 years.

A stimulating lecture by Lady Doreen Pollock on 3rd March failed to revive interest in the Monthly Print Competitions which were poorly supported. A size limitation on the Preliminary Class to no more than 10" x 12" was approved on 8th September 1970. An ad hoc Council meeting on 18th November reversed the decision and despite the meeting being improperly called, the ad hoc decision was ratified on 5th January 1971 and the size limitation dropped. The machinations of the Club management eventually proved too tedious for Stuart Pickford who resigned from Council having served continuously since 1959.

Daphne Petchey 1st Lady President

The first lady President was elected at the AGM on 26th May 1971 - Miss Daphne Petchey ARPS who joined on 19th July 1962 and was to guide the Club through the political "Winter of Discontent".

Club Minibus

She took over a membership of 117 and a subscription of £3 per year and with investment funds in a healthy state the Club lost its economical head and agreed on 13th July to spend £175 on the purchase of its own minibus. There is no record of consideration of who would run or service or garage it. A more ill-considered venture it is difficult to imagine as a method of pouring money away. The better way would have been to hire a minibus as and when required with known costs.

However the Club was saved from its own folly by its continuing inability to turn words into deeds. Though Alan Richards undertook to seek and purchase he did not do so as the cost advice was flawed and the allotted £75 would have purchased a wreck. The true cost was reported in August 1973 as £500 for a 1969 model. The idea was therefore abandoned and never revived.

Paris Street Market, Paris Riots...

The summer saw members of the Club make a visit on 6th June 1971 to Bievres and to take a stall in a Paris street market and sell photographs. This was acceptable on the Continent but a non-starter in Bayswater Road as the English — then — did not buy photographs. After a successful day the members sat down to dinner near Boulevard St Michel, when the student riots burst around them. One moment they were sitting peacefully on the pavement and the next fleeing as all hell broke loose. Rioters rushed the cafe smashing everything. Milford Saunders took a chair in the face and must have come close to losing an eye. Daphne Petchey and others locked themselves in a downstairs lavatory keeping even the Patron with his takings out.

The rest found a small door exiting to an alley at the back and fled. Two hours later all were safe at the hotel wondering why their appetite had not returned. Outings can be fun sometimes.

...and Power Cuts at home

On the 29th November 1971 Kate Knapman became the first lady to attain 21 years' membership.

The winter of 1971/2 brought electricity rationing and a power cut on 15th February 1972 "left the Council meeting more in the dark than usual".