Our History


One of our longest standing members, Rowland White, shares some of his memories of the club.



The first meeting of the club, then known as the Newton Abbot Photographic Society, was held in one of the town's restaurants in 1942. It may seem a strange time to begin a club of this type as there would have been many wartime restrictions and shortages. Film was evidently still obtainable and processing materials for the dark room were usually brewed up at home. It was perhaps some significance that one of the founder members was Arthur Bibbings who had a pharmacy and chemist's shop in Queen Street. Our trophies all bear the names of the club's founders including Douglas Simes (The Simes Cup), W.A.Wiseman (The Wiseman Rose Bowl) and Charles Iffla (The Iffla Cup).

During the 1950's the club met at the YMCA at the top of St Paul's Road and remained there until the Courtenay Centre (then called the Community Centre) opened in 1969. I joined the club in the early 60's and it was at the YMCA in about 1965 that i saw my first audio-visual presentation with twin projectors and a home-made dissolve device. Within a week I had borrowed a second Hanimex projector and tried it out myself with music from an open reel tape deck. A few years later we were presenting quite ambitious automated slide shows with print displays of members' work at The Teignbridge Fair which was held annually at the racecourse.

Programmes in the 60's and 70's were remarkably similar to those we have today, and included monthly competitions for prints and slides, the WCPF travelling portfolios, battles with local clubs and travel talks. The main difference was a significantly larger number of sponsored evenings by such well known names as Kodak, Ilford, Agfa and Johnsons. When a large audience was expected the hall at the Grammar School was often used.

In 1972 the "Society" changed it's name to become a "Club" with a properly drawn up constitution. This was thought to present a rather more friendly face to the public, but the club rules were a little daunting in their original form. "Health and Safety" had raised it's head over the parapet. The Community Centre underwent a large extension programme in the mid 70's and we were forced to vacate our room.The club move to the Adult Education Centre where we remained for the next 25 years. After a short dalliance with the Teignbridge Bowling Centre we finally came back to the Centre in 2005.

Our Golden Jubilee was celebrated in the 1991/92 season. The programme that year had a gold cover and we held an exhibition in a local church hall. We were also featured in the local press. Somehow our 60th Anniversary passed us by with no special events, but as you may see, our 2011/12 season will mark our 70th Anniversary, and special guest speakers, a Celebration evening, a book featuring a photographic history of the club, and exhibitions are all being planned. In particular we are holding an International Photographic Salon in July,2012 to celebrate our anniversary. The club has a long-standing service to the town and surrounding area, and was actively involved when Newton Abbot twinned with Besigheim, and we have made links with clubs in France and the USA at various times in the past.

Today we are one of the leading photographic clubs in the South  West. Our members include many with internationally recognised distinctions who have represented us in competitions and salons at home and abroad. At the same time we have always welcomed new members to the club with little or no experience who wish to improve their photography. That is how most of us started and I, for one, can say the Club has provided me with nearly 50 years of sustained interest and pleasure.