Eastbourne CC through the years.

Meeting Report

I went to tonight's meeting expecting a talk about Eastbourne town and wondering what could possibly be of interest there. I soon found out.

The answer came when our speaker, John Staples, the President of Eastbourne Camera Club, put the title of his talk on the screen; we were going to see a selection of work from the permanent Collection of the club’s pictures collected by the speaker from various sources over a very long span of time.

In the end he had collected together some 600 pictures starting with a picture of a club outing dated 1893, which is the earliest record he found. Of course the club may have started even before that date, but whatever the truth it must be the case that Eastbourne Camera Club is amongst the oldest established in England.

In 1895, a large exhibition was held in Eastbourne (probably the largest outside London) and we saw pictures of the event showing a huge Number of prints on display.

John continued by naming members of the club over the years and showing us examples of their work. I was sitting at the back as usual (an old habit dating back from my school days) and from there the images shown on our screen did not really do full justice to the high quality of the original prints which we saw at first hand at half time. John had set out a very large selection of prints when he arrived, on our print stands.

Several of the club members had held distinguished positions in their lifetimes such as Bertran Sinkinson, who had been President of the RPS. Other notable members were named such as Noel Habgood FRPS, who specialised in wonderful Black and white prints, and another who worked for J. Arthur Rank and produced prints using the Bromoil process where the prints took days to produce.

The more I looked at John the more I was sure I had met him at some time in the past, and when the name Colin Westgate FRPS came up I realised that it was through him that I had met John.

Colin started his photography at a very early age and was a very good photographer indeed. He was a bank manager but was made redundant (along with many other bank employees in the 1950s and 1960s). He decided to set up Quest Photography where he ran a full programme of workshops and photographic holidays. I must have attended at least a dozen of these events over quite a long period of time. Paul Hayward also attended some courses and Di Walker and I went to Iceland with Colin about five years ago. I also went on holidays to the Isle of Mull, Southern Ireland and Skye and a lot of other workshops and I must have met John on one of these events, but I do not remember which one.

After we had had a good look at the marvellous prints on display during the tea break, John resumed with more up-to-date member's works.

John had eventually collected together so many prints that storage became a problem and so he retained two large boxes full (and digitalised the remainder which must have taken a long time) so that he could give talks to various societies and clubs like ours.

John's enthusiasm for the history of Eastbourne camera club was plain to see and we all had anabsorbing evening which was different and thoroughly enjoyable.

Thank you John.