Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

Croydon Camera Club History: 1890-2000

Close the Club 1983
Oblivion: Red faces all round

The President, S. G. Pickford, advised the Council on 28th April 1982 that he sensed the mood was to run down the Club during the year in preparation for formal winding up at the AGM 1983 unless there was implemented a firm policy of commitment and expansion. Nobody dissented and nobody did anything, and by mid June the Bulletin was dying for lack of articles from members. Membership stood at 8 on 21st June when at the Council meeting most members had the grace to turn red, shuffle uncomfortably and produce cheques for their subscription suddenly like manna from heaven.

Move to YWCA, 7th March 1984

In pursuit of hopeful expansion it was recognised that a dark room for members' use could be an incentive and one was found at the YWCA, who also had a meeting room with kitchen for £5 a night. The facilities would be available from January 1983. Whilst acknowledging the financial benefits in reduced expenditure the President Stuart Pickford was vehemently against yet another move of Club venue especially so soon after coming to the Friends' Meeting House, he consistently voted against a move. He was unsuccessful and the Club made the move holding its first meeting on 7th March 1984. The Dark Room facilities, which were the prime reason behind the move, never were provided by the YWCA!

To stabilise finances it was decided in August 1982 to remove the "Salt Shutter Tester" from the Midland Bank vault, have it photographed as permanent record and then offer it on Permanent Loan to the Kodak or Science Museum in the hope of obtaining some funds for the Club. Again nobody did anything. With general apathy ruling the Syllabus was not prepared beyond May 1983 and Donald MacFarlane offered his resignation from Vice Chairman and was replaced by Brian Moore. Despite all efforts membership remained static at 55 and the feeling was that new members were not being made welcome and therefore were not staying even after paying their subscription. Some members were however having individual success and the Treasurer Roy King obtained his ARPS and Roy Palmer won first prize of £150-worth of cut glass in a local competition run by Dove Bros the car sales firm in Addiscombe.

Photeurop wound up

Just before the AGM Sir George Pollock confirmed that Photeurop UK had been wound up with all assets transferred to the RPS and that Croydon CC had been indemnified against all claims.

The Club to be wound up

In preparation for the AGM on 25th May 1983 the President Stuart Pickford declared he would not stand again for re-election and noted that there were no nominations for President as the Vice Chairman declined to stand. There was no Secretary; no Syllabus Secretary and without officers the Club could not function. Council were unable to offer any names for these essential positions and were reminded by Stuart Pickford that without names the Club could not function. It was therefore agreed that the AGM Agenda propose the dissolution of the Club and the President was empowered to draft a suitable clause. Item 11 of the AGM Agenda read as follows:

To consider the proposition:

"The Present Council be empowered to consult with the Trustees on the procedure for closing the Camera Club and their recommendation to be the subject of a Special General Meeting to be called on a date to be announced"

The end was in sight after 92 years. Even the President's stimulus that Council should by now be preparing for the Centenary in 1990 had failed to inject a last effort to save the Club from extinction. The President's letter to the Corporation asking for a floral motif in the Town Hall Gardens to be displayed in 1990 looked like being a dead letter in every sense.

Stuart Pickford could have stood again as there was no opposition but he could see no back-up and his tactic was to give the Club one last chance to save itself now that it peered over the abyss and saw extinction facing it on 25th May 1983.

The Club did not like what it saw and at the AGM from the floor came the nomination of Harold Stillwell for President (for him too the second time around). Chris Cripps as Secretary (22 July 1980) Tessa Most as Syllabus Secretary and Roy King still remaining Treasurer to the pleasure of everyone looking for continuity.

Harold Stillwell now lived in Wiltshire and Council meetings were to be bi-monthly. It says much for Harold's dedication that he was prepared to serve the Club from such a distance: it says more about the paucity of membership that none was willing to pick up the mantle of Presidency even when living much nearer. The Vice Chairman was Michael Hope who joined on 10th December 1982.

Wratten Memorial Lectures created

Harold immediately revived interest in moving from the Friends' Meeting House to the YWCA, an action passively ignored by the previous President. He also revived a long neglected tradition of having a major "star" attraction for a lecture. He was lucky to be supported by an energetic Secretary with influential connections with the RPS, and the result was the start of the "Wratten Memorial Lectures" which eventually assisted in stimulating increased membership and reviving the Club finances.

The first of these took place on 14th November 1984 when Heather Angel FRPS delivered her internationally famous lecture on Natural History with her three-figure fee being substantially covered by ticket sales at £l per head and a net profit of £62 was made.

However during his first year in 1983 the membership continued to fall in spite of some first class lectures by A. W. Friese Greene on 12th January 1983, Colin Garrett with his photographs of Steam Locomotives on 14th September and Dr Brian Most FRPS on 26th October. Although publicity was essential to try to attract new members, there was no-one on Council prepared to act. Once again on 12th January 1984 complaints were made that new members were left standing alone in the club room with no-one to talk to or made to feel welcome.