The First Fifty Years
A History of our club put together by Jim Chown
Any small village organisation depends exclusively on the voluntary efforts of its members for its success and survival. It is a tribute to the efforts of many members and club officers that Stoke Poges Photographic Club has succeeded and survived, sometimes perilously, for 50 years.
The short history of the club is based on committee and AGM minutes when available. Much of the older information had survived surprisingly well with only a few gaps. Information on some of the stalwarts of the seventies and eighties was gleaned from the early editions of the club newsletter and helped to complete the story.
My thanks to Chairman Chris King and ex member Jan McGhee for running a critical eye over the document and especially to my wife Edwina for guiding me away from errors in grammar and spelling.
Jim Chown March 2013
The Early Years
The first recorded information about the club was not in chronological order, however the first AGM of The Stoke Poges Film and Cine Society was held in Stoke Poges Village Hall, on January 16th 1964 . The elected committee comprised Mr Chapling (chairman), Mr Conway (secretary),Mr Firth (treasurer), Mr Waghorn, Mr Sowersby and Mr Vize.
From the minutes of the first committee meetings it appeared that the first club meetings started in September 1963 and were held, fortnightly in the Village Hall, until the end of April. The attendance fee was one shilling (5p), including tea and biscuits, but increased to one and sixpence (7.5p) for the second half of the season. The following season attendance fees were replaced by an annual subscription of £1, still including tea and biscuits. This was increased to £1.50 in 1970 and £1.75 in 1972.
The first constitution was based on a British Film Institute draft that indicated that cine film was the main thrust of the club. The opening evening for the 1965 season was the Will Hay film ‘Oh Mr Porter’ and the programme was mainly based on hired films or cine presentations by members.
In the same year slide competitions were introduced and a slide battle with ICI Slough was planned. By 1968 such battles were a popular regular feature.
There was a social programme with an annual outing and cheese and wine parties. As now there were clashes with the drama group regarding hiring of the village hall from time to time. A lack of storage space for equipment was also an issue frequently being negotiated with the Village Hall Trustees
During the 60s there was continuing concern regarding membership, and what to do about it. There is little information regarding numbers, although in 1966/67 the average attendance was 17/18. During this time the committee consisted of a chairman, secretary, treasurer and 3 to 5 committee members. The main officers of the club in this period were Messrs Chaplin, Conway, Frith, Platt, Crane, and Akerman.
In 1972 the club name changed to the Stoke Poges Camera Club for one year, however at a General Meeting in March 1973 it was agreed to change the name of the club to the Stoke Poges Photographic Club, which better reflected the way the club was developing, and also to become a member of the Chilterns Association of Camera Clubs.(£1 per year).
Around about this time club meetings were held weekly during the season.
These changes set the scene for some years with slide competitions becoming very popular, both internally and for ‘battles’ with other local clubs. In addition black and white printing and practical evenings occurred. Cine work was minimal, possibly because of the expense.
The decade started with an increase in annual subscription to £1.50 per year and by the end it had risen to £4.00; £3.50 if paid before the sixth meeting!
The principal officers of the club in the 70s were Bill Akerman, who was either secretary, vice-chairman or chairman from 1966 to 1979. In the second half of the period Philip Rimmington,
Syd Hall, George White, Fred Tillner, Alan Green and Jean Prior were prominent. Philip was chairman for four years from 1977 to 1980.
Membership fluctuated over the period varying from a low of about fourteen to a maximum of about thirty. Local posters and press advertisements were used to promote the club. There were similar problems to those we have had in recent times, with low support for B&W work, storage problems in the village hall, and difficulty in filling committee posts.
At an extraordinary general meeting in Sept 1972 the newly elected committee resigned en-bloc and another committee had to be elected; the reasons for the resignations have never been divulged. 1972 also revealed the first printed balance sheet showing £31.00 in credit. 1973 was a particularly difficult year because of the miners’ strike, the ensuing three-day week and the associated power cuts. This left members feeling very chilly in mid winter and reduced attendances from about thirty to about seventeen.
Innovations included the appointment of the first programme secretary in 1971, introduction of the’ intermediate group’ and ‘reserve’ slides in internal competitions. The Charles Harding trophy for a slide sequence of not more than 12 slides with live commentary, and not longer than5 minutes was first held in 1978/9 and still continues today. Charles was the village postmaster and was a member for many years.
The social side included the annual outing, annual dinner and occasional evenings out for night photography.
The club was also active in organising AV presentations that were shown to residents and local organisations. These included a Thomas Gray bi-centenary AV about Stoke Poges that was shown in 1972, the original slides and tape recording are still held by the club. There was also a Syd Hall production, with a commentary by Philip Rimmington depicting life in Stoke Poges, and an AV named ‘Potpourri’ 79, a series of slide sequences with music and commentary shown to a number of local organisations. These projects created good publicity for the club, and enabled it to support local charities and build up an equipment fund. However after a couple of years of high activity which involved members in a lot of additional effort and time it became a drain on the members resources and so was cut back to producing one AV presentation to the public per year.
The club was active in holding regular internal competitions, including print evenings, and had regular battles with other clubs. Sadly some of these clubs have now ceased to exist, e.g. Pinewood, Clewer, West Drayton, Grasslands, ICI, Clements and SEB. By the mid 70s there was very little reference to cine work possibly because of the expense and by the late 70s all the internal competitions appeared to be for slides.
At the beginning of the decade the club asked to participate in the 5 Clubs competition but had to wait for a vacancy. This occurred in 1973 when the Slough Camera Club ceased to exist.
In 1974 Fred Tillner (previously a member of GD Peters camera club and the now defunct Slough Camera Club) became our representative for the 5 clubs competition to such good effect that we achieved our first win in the event. Fred; continued to be our 5 clubs representative for over 20 years. We were also joint winners in 1979 and winners in 1985,1999, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2010 and 2011
The G D Peters camera club had initiated the 5 clubs competition in 1961. Alf Lloyd was a leading member of the G D Peters club before joining Stoke Poges, and inevitably heavily involved in starting the event. The clubs participating then were G D Peters, Maidenhead, Slough Community Centre, Windsor and Eton and ICI Slough. The competition has continued unbroken to this day although different clubs now participate. In recent times these have been Maidenhead, Marlow, Woodley, Windsor, Wycombe and Stoke Poges, the latter since 1974.
In 1977 Alf Lloyd was made the club’s first honorary member for meritorious service to the club and to the Chilterns Association of Camera Clubs. He made an outstanding contribution to local photography over a period of nearly 50 years. It started when he joined the G D Peters photographic club in 1948 and soon became chairman (for 11 years) and he became a popular speaker and judge in the Chilterns area and further afield. As mentioned earlier he was instrumental in initiating the Five Clubs competition in 1961. Alf was also involved in creating the Chiltern Association of Camera Clubs with Joe Scrivener from Chesham, Tom Allsop and Dr McGowan both from GX. This transpired because of the difficulty in persuading judges and lecturers, who were mainly based in the London area, to venture out to the ‘sticks’ in mid-winter. The idea was born in 1963 and after two years of quarterly judging seminars the first list of local judges and speakers was circulated to interested clubs in 1965. For the next few years the four originators progressed everything until 1969 when a formal committee was elected. Alf often ran the judging seminars and was vice chairman and chairman of the CACC for several years. Today the judging seminars are still regularly held and the number of associated clubs has grown from about 20 in the early days to 45 today.
In 1995 chairman Jean Prior, a committee member for over 20 years and an honorary member from 1996, and ex G D Peters member Fred Tillner decided to recognise Alf’s dedication to photography by secretly gathering information from his photographic friends that enabled them to recommend Alf for the prestigious Photographic Alliance Award for Meritorious Service.
As we shall see later Alf also ran the photography exhibition for the Slough Arts festival for several years. Apart from photography Alf was a founder member and secretary of Iver veterans golf society, a keen artist active in Slough Art Club, involved in the Windsor Rose Society and he enjoyed cooking and organising family holidays and events.
In 1979 the problem of smoking during club meetings was raised and the committee banned smoking except during the interval. Very shortly afterwards the smokers were persuaded to smoke only outside the meeting room, and before too long were congregating outside the building for their interval break even in the depths of winter.
Members often gave presentations including Bill Akerman, George White frps, Syd Hall and Alf Lloyd.
One of the first activities of the eighties was to revise the original constitution that was still based on that of the British Film Institute which of course did not now reflect the club’s activities. The new constitution was based on that recommended by the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain.
In 1981 the club participated in the annual village fete for the first time. A competition was run with prizes for those identifying 25 images of the village shown in a slide show. Since then the club has been involved in the fete virtually every year.
In the previous few years it was found that some new members had drifted away from the club by the end of the season. To minimise this the more senior members were asked to mentor newcomers and encourage them to participate in club activities and offer advice and help. This appeared to reduce the drift away.
In 1983/4 several new members joined following the closing of a small photographic club based in Cippenham and some are still members.
From the annual programme booklets it appears that there was the usual mixture of slide competitions, lectures, AV matters, annual outings, annual lunches, matches with other clubs, the Rose-Bowl and 5 clubs competitions. There were slide battles with Viewfinders and, Caversham neither of which is competing within the CACC any more.
In 1987 Edith Ward was made an honorary member for her many years of dedication in supplying refreshments for club evenings and when we hosted visiting clubs. John Bollingbroke, chairman and committee member for several years was retiring to Wales and became the club’s third honorary member in 1988.
In 1988 it was agreed that £100 should be donated to the Village Hall restoration fund.
In the early 90s it was apparent that the club was in decline as the membership gradually fell from about forty in the 80s to twenty-two in 1993 (including three honorary members). This of course had cash flow implications and led to fewer lectures and shorter seasons. At this stage the committee undertook an in depth investigation into the reasons for the decline, and by means of brainstorming sessions and analysis of information gathered, a 5 year plan ( Vision 2000) was formulated, with targets for membership numbers, quality of photography and the public perception of what we were trying to achieve.
The club also succeeded in increasing interest in colour printing by introducing regular small print (7”x5”) competitions that in turn led to more large print participation. At this time very few members were able print in colour and prints were usually obtained by commercial printing from slides, this could be quite expensive for A4 sized prints.
Within the 5-year plan period the membership was doubled, we reached the finals of the Rose Bowl on two occasions, won the 5-club competition once and came second twice. During these years the club presented annual photographic exhibitions at both the village fete and the horticultural show and mounted exhibitions in our library, that now unfortunately no longer exists. Extensive advertising in the local press and Parish magazine, together with posters in local libraries, shops, businesses and colleges dramatically improved the situation.
A 1 hour AV show called ‘Stoke Poges in the Nineties’ was produced and shown to residents of Stoke Poges on 2 separate occasions in 1998. Jim Chown co-ordinated the slide collection from the many members involved and wrote the commentary, Jean Porter together with Lionel Rigby, the Parish Council Chairman, and Jim Chown gave the commentary, Syd Hall was the AV expert who chose the music, and synchronised it and the commentary with the slide sequences on two projectors. Syd and Jim spent many long evenings putting it all together in his soundproofed shed at the bottom of his garden. The presentation was also videoed and 80 copies were sold to interested members of the public.
Syd Hall was an AV international judge for the RPS at Bath and had been involved in AV work for many years. During the late sixties and early seventies he organised the Slough Arts Festival photographic section for seven years. In those days the section included prints, slides, cine, AV and sound recording and was held at Pinewood Studios. Syd served several years on the committee and was chairman in 1981,1982 and 1985.
In 1995 the Slough Arts Festival approached member Alf Lloyd to see if SPPC would set up a photographic exhibition/competition in conjunction with other Festival activities such as art, music and dancing. In his usual enthusiastic way Alf, who was a member of the Slough art group, persuaded the club to agree and soon had the club heavily involved.
Alf masterminded the first few years and the entries increased from about 70 initially to over 300 by 2004. Club members gave much help in setting up and dismantling the exhibition and ensuring that prints and certificates were returned to the authors. In 2001 Alf’s health deteriorated and Joe Dodgeson, under Alf’s guidance, undertook much of the organisation. The following year Joe unexpectedly moved away shortly before entries were received and collated.
At short notice Jim Chown and John Archibald and other members of the committee carried out the administration and organisation required. Jim and John together with club members continued to organise the event until 2005 when it was felt that the workload was beginning to tell on the club.
Joe Dodgson ARPS initially joined Stoke Poges in 1984 and then after a couple of years moved to the Maidenhead club where he held various committee jobs, including chairman for two years, before returning to Stoke Poges in 1997. In 1998 he gained the prestigious Diploma of the PAGB and served on the club committee before becoming chairmanin 2000.
A club newsletter was started in December 1997 and issued three times a year until 2003. The intention was for members to contribute articles, comments and advice that might be of interest to the rest of the club and for the editor to provide information on forthcoming photographic events and club activities. Unfortunately the editor didn’t get the support hoped for so that it finally declined to an annual newsletter until 2009. From 2010 the newsletter, under new management, and now in full colour, is issued digitally with the pre-season documentation.
In 1997 the Parish Council awarded the Judd cup to the club. This cupis awarded annually to users of the village centre who have contributed to life in the Parish.
The same year the local Horticultural Society invited the club to exhibit their work at the Stoke Poges Fulmer and Wexham Show. For several years this was held at the Teiko school and in recent years at the Stoke Poges school playing field. In 1999 the Horticultural Society approached the club to set up a photography competition for both children and adults reflecting the society’s interests. The club was asked to judge the entries and of course Alf Lloyd immediately volunteered and continued until illness prevented him from carrying on. The club continues to supply the judge for the competition and also exhibits at the show.
1998 saw the completion of the rebuilding of the Village Centre and the grand opening was held on July 3rd. The club was represented by past club chairmen Jean Prior and Philip Rimmington and long-term member Alf Lloyd. Member Ron Teague was the official photographer for the event and exhibited the results in the new social club area.
The advent of a new millennium brought forecasts of terrible computer problems at the year change. In the event nothing untoward happened.
As part of the Parish celebrations for the new-year the club digitalised a large postcard collection of early 20th century pictures of Stoke Poges and the surrounding area put together by previous chairman Philip Rimmington. Many of the scenes were then re-photographed from the same viewpoint. The new and old images were exhibited together in the village library showing how the appearance of the village had changed in the intervening years.
The early years of the 21st century saw the rapid emergence of digital photography. Within a few years film slides were being replaced with digital images and a new technology and language took over. Initially there was reluctance to change and possibly a fear of not understanding how to adapt to the new medium, especially for those that were not computer literate.
By 2000 the club had a web-site and after a number modifications and name changes is now established at www.stokepogesphotoclub.co.uk
In 2000 the Parish Council awarded the club the Jubilee Cup in recognition of its contribution to life in the community through its support of village events such as the village fete and flower show, the organisation of the photographic exhibition of the Slough Arts Festival and its AV presentation of Stoke Poges in the Nineties.
A continuing problem was persuading members to offer their services for committee work, this was partly due to a lack of information of what was involved. This was rectified in 2003 by writing job descriptions of the various offices; it still remained difficult to fill them!
Alan Green who had been a committee member for many years in the late seventies and early eighties and latterly for several years had organised and provided free tea and biscuits for club evenings was made an honorary member in 2004.
The Photographer of the Year award is for the highest top ten scores gained in internal projected image competition during the year. Frank Curtis ARPS, a current member of many years, had an outstandingly successful year in 2000 scoring 199 points out of a possible 200; in 2004 he exceeded this by scoring 200 out of the possible 200 points. Frank was presented with a trophy to commemorate this first time achievement. This feat was surpassed in 2007 by new member Kevin Day who achieved 12 maximum scores gaining 240 points for the first time, equalled two years later by Neil Neville.
At the beginning of the 2000s contact was made with a photographic club in Melbourne Australia following a holiday there by member Jan McGhee. This progressed to having an annual slide battle with them for a number of years where slides were judged independently in both countries with tape recordings of the judges comments.
In 2003 a small working party was set up to investigate how the club could best embrace this new technology and how to pay for it. This led to the successful application for a grant through the Awards for All scheme with South Bucks District Council. By the beginning of 2005 the club had purchased a digital projector, a laptop and associated equipment so that it was able to join the digital age, albeit, on the understanding that the club
contributed back into the community. This was done by developing a training programme to help beginners get started with the new technology. Although, at the time it was the blind leading the blind, Jan McGhee and Jim Chown developed a course for beginners that comprised three two hour training sessions using Photoshop Elements. This was successfully tried on club members and then demonstrated to two groups of parishioners, the local church summer school and South Bucks U3A.
Digital images were gradually introduced into club competitions and by 2006 projected images could be either slide or digital. The availability of good quality ink jet printers also enabled more members to turn to home colour printing which dramatically increased the numbers entering print competitions.
Great improvements in the quality of projectors rapidly followed and the original projector was soon thought to be unsuitable for inter club competitions. A second grant application for a projector was made in 2008 and although ‘all the boxes appeared to have been ticked’ this was not successful so the new equipment was purchased from club funds.
At the AGM in 2009 past chairmen Edwina Chown and Jim Chown were made honorary members for services to the club over many years. Edwina was appointed as non-executive President with the promise that it would involve very little work.
The second half of the noughties was one of great change. The rapid development and popularity of the digital world saw an increasing interest in photography and many clubs saw an increase in membership. Our home for over forty years was proving to be inadequate to accommodate our members and a waiting list had to be introduced which quickly grew to about ten potential members. This provided the impetus for Chairman Jim Williams and the committee to investigate a move to the large meeting hall in the Village Centre. In September 2010 this move, together with changing the meeting day from the original Thursday to a Tuesday was accomplished. This quickly proved to be advantageous as the club membership rapidly grew from the mid forties to sixty-eight in 2012.
A major event in 2011 was the visit of royal photographer Arthur Edwards MBE. In a career of over thirty years, covering all aspects of photography of the royal family, he gave a riveting insight into the hectic lives of the professionals and the elation of getting a ‘front page’ scoop. He has obviously built up an excellent working relationship with royalty since he receives birthday cards from them!
Other innovations were the introduction of a photographic yearbook showing all the images entered by members in internal competitions during the year, and issuing the annual programme in a small booklet form. These were masterminded by Kevin Day. Chris Lloyd courageously volunteered to run a hands-on weekly digital training group where he helped members unravel the mysteries of Photoshop Elements. He also provided a host of equipment that enabled most attendees to have a computer to use. Sally Botwright, our own London Blue Badge guide, arranged several guided tours in London including visits to the Olympic Games site.
What will the future bring? Chairman Chris King and an active technically-aware committee are ensuring that the club continues to develop photographically. The club embraces a broad range of ability and age and a good balance between the sexes resulting in a welcoming sociable environment.