The First One Hundred Years (1896 – 1996)

Bromley Camera Club was founded in February 1896 in response to suggestions by several eminent local amateur photographers that a camera club “would be of immense assistance to all interested persons”. The founders consisted of doctors, teachers, business men and ‘gentlemen’ as well as people in local politics and administration. They needed to be fairly well off since the annual Club subscription at that time was about the average weekly wage of most workmen. Mr Samuel Blatchford Webber, a retired Goldsmith was elected President and Mr William Willis, well known in the photographic world as the inventor of the Platinotype photographic printing process, was elected a Vice President. Meetings were held at the Literary Institute in Widmore Road, Bromley and consisted mainly of technical lectures from photographic manufacturers, or lantern shows by well known amateur photographers. During the summer, outings were arranged for the purpose of taking photographs for subsequent Club competitions. The 1914-18 war seriously interrupted the Club’s steady progress though there were occasional meetings. After the war the remaining elderly members found it difficult to rebuild and expand the Club. They managed to achieve this by offering free tuition to beginners wanting to join the Club. During the 1920’s and 30’s the Club grew in size and an Annual Public Exhibition of photography was established. At first this was held in the club room at the Literary Institute and later at the Bromley Public Library. Once again the Club’s progress was halted, this time by the 1939-45 war. However, meetings did take place throughout the war period and when peace returned in 1945 the Club soon recovered and membership started to expand once again. The Club joined the Federation of South London Photographic Societies and the Kent County Photographic Association and competes in both societies’ Annual Competitions. The Club holds a week-long Annual Exhibition at which a selection of all members’ work is shown. Moreover, the weekly meetings which take place throughout the season provide a mixture of print and slide competitions, guest speakers and members’ evenings. Having now reached our Centenary we look forward with confidence and enthusiasm to the next 100 years and invite new members to join us on this historic journey. (Extracted from the book “One Hundred Years of Photography” compiled and edited by Ron Driver ARPS)

Bell HotelThe Bell Hotel, Bromley

The Bell Hotel, Bromley. Photograph by Samuel Webber. An old coaching inn also called “The Royal Bell” because Queen Victoria patronised the hotel and “Royal” coaches changed horses there. It was demolished and rebuilt in 1897.

Market Square 2Market Square, Bromley

The South side of Market Square, Bromley. This photograph was taken in 1860, probably by Samuel Webber.

Bromley Market SquareMarket Square from Widmore Road

The entrance to Market Square from Widmore Road. A date on one of the posters indicates that the picture was taken in 1882. The photographer is not known.

West Wickham OutingOuting to West Wickham

A group photograph taken on a club outing to West Wickham by Mr A R Dresser.

Gads Hill OutingOuting to Gads Hill

Bromley Camera Club and the Naturalists Society outing at Gads Hill, the former home of Charles Dickens on 18th June 1897. The tree in the background is a Cedar of Lebanon. The photograph was taken by Samuel Webber.

A book, compiled and edited by R L Driver ARPS was published by Bromley Camera Club to celebrate 100 years of photography. This can be downloaded in full by following this link: 100 YEARS OF PHOTOGRAPHY