The Club celebrated its 125th anniversary this year with an exhbition which was hosted at the Novium Museum in March.
In this article by Amy Roberts and Portia Tremlett (first published in the December 2018 isue of the Chichester Society’s Newsletter) explore a fascinating history since Chichester Camera Club, first known as Chichester Photographic Society, was formed in 1893.
The early years
To begin with, the Photographic Society met weekly, organised lectures about new photographic techniques and equipment, and arranged excursions to places such as Midhurst, Hunston and Arundel. Monthly and annual competitions were held. Categories for entries included Seascapes and Landscapes, Architecture, and Lantern Slides.
Some members of the Society were prominent local citizens including George Turnbull who was an Alderman and also Mayor from 1909 to 1912 and again in 1919. He was a member of the Society until at least 1939 when he would have been around 85 years of age.
The First World War took its toll of both the membership and its activities, and in 1917 meetings were abandoned. They were resumed, however in 1922 when a notice appeared in the paper in the rather formal style of the period inviting both LADIES AND GENTLEMEN to attend a meeting at the Technical Institute on North Street with the intention of restarting the Society. This led to weekly meetings, regular excursions and lectures. The Society moved to new premises in 1928 at Flint House in South Street. There they held an exhibition of old photographs taken by former and current members.
The society continued to flourish in the 1930s and competitions improved in quality and quantity of entries. 1938 saw an innovation in the way competitions were judged. Until this time entries had been assessed by fellow members but this changed and entries were passed to an external expert for judging. During the Second World War the Society met only twice in the two years 1940 to 1942. It seems fuel rationing greatly limited their efforts to organise excursions. By 1945 they had left their premises in South Street and placed their possessions in store.
A new beginning
Members of the Society did not meet again until 1949 when they emerged from the war years with a new name – the Chichester Camera Club. The club met fortnightly now at the Methodist Hall in the Hornet. The first post-war exhibition was held in 1950. Since then the Club has thrived. It is now recognised as one of the most successful photographic clubs in the country with a reputation for excellent photography and a programme of visiting speakers, competitions and social events. Anyone with an interest in photography is welcome.