Burton upon Trent Photographic Society

Society History

It seems a long time since the 14th February 1933, when a dozen like minded people, decided to form the Burton Camera Club, at the inaugural meeting at the Queen’s Hotel, Burton.  A committee was formed and a format for the meetings was decided, a mixture of lectures, competitions and outings. Looking back at those aspects of the Society, very little has changed from 1933 to the present day.

In 1954 the name was changed to Burton Photographic Society, because at the time it was felt that the emphasis of the club was more to do with equipment, especially in those post war years, than the art of photography.  So the name Photographic Society was adopted in the hope that the emphasis would again be on the skill of photography.

The club used to meet every alternate Thursday, with a winter programme of indoor meeting and a summer programme of outings. Subscriptions were 6s.6d for Gentlemen and 4s.6d for Ladies and Juniors.  The meetings even continued throughout the war years, with few references to those times in the minutes. At the annual General meeting January 1940 “the question of carrying on during the ensuing winter session was discussed, in view of the present war situation and the frequency of air raid warnings.  It was proposed by Mrs Ashmore and seconded by Mr Williams, that meetings should be held when there was full moon. And this was agreed.” And at the Annual General Meeting in January 1941, the secretary in giving a resume of the previous years activities of the club said “the meetings, despite the prevailing abnormal conditions, had been well attended.  While it was gratifying to note four new members had been enrolled.  With regard to the excursions, a series had been arranged but only one had been actually undertaken, as owing to photographers nowadays being looked upon with suspicion, although not banned altogether it was thought desirable to cancel them.”

The venues for our meetings have moved about the town.  From the Queen’s Hotel, the club room at Cox and Malin in the High Street, (near the National Westminster Bank), the Congregational School Room High Street, and St Paul’s Institute. If there was nowhere for a meeting to be held, it was not unusual for it to be held at someone’s house.  This would be more difficult these days when we average 30 plus each week.  A short time was spent at the college buildings in Union St, Friars Walk School, Grange St. Teachers Centre. In the eighties a few meetings were held at the British Oak public house, before moving to our present accommodation in Stretton.

The Society is affiliated to the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (PAGB) through the Midland Counties Photographic Federation (MCPF) and over the years the Society has helped the MCPF, organise various events in the local area. The MCPF organise a seminar on photography annually.  So in 1995 the MCPF approached BPS to host its seminar, which was for the first time, had all lady speakers, and then in 1997 the seminar was given entirely by a couple from Holland.  In 1999 the club again hosted the seminar which had speakers on all different mediums of photography, from Lithprinting to landscape work. In 2008 as part of the Society’s 75th anniversary year, the Society hosted another seminar for the MCPF, this time three Irish speakers, held the audience in the palms of their hands. This attracted people from as far Scotland and Wales to come along.  The Society has hosted two more successful seminars with speakers from Ireland.  In 2013 the MCPF added the Society to it’s Roll of Honour, only the fourth club to receive this accolade.

The club has hosted the MCPF’s General Meeting, which was followed by the Interclub Knockout Slide Competition. The Interclub Knockout Slide Competition is held annually to find the top two clubs, in the MCPF. These top two clubs then go on to represent the MCPF in the National final, organised by the PAGB, held at Warwick University. This competition is regarded as one of the most prestigious in the PAGB calendar. In 1998 the Society were runners up at the knockout stage of the competition and so won a place in that year’s finals at Warwick University. So heading for a new adventure for the club, some of the members hired a mini bus, and set off early one Saturday in July.  To be competing against the best photographic clubs and societies in the country was an experience. The atmosphere was electric and all the members who went all want to repeat the experience again.  The Society came a creditable 19th placed club in the country.

The club took the decision to hold an Exhibition in February 1936, when it was proposed to hold two, one in April and the other in October; however, we can find no records of that ever occurring.  A committee was formed in the early years, and they decided on the judges, where and when to hold the exhibition and who was to be asked to open the exhibition. The exhibition has always been judged by an external judge and indeed during the clubs early years by as many as three judges.

The club has held an exhibition every year with the exception of 1942 “owing to short supplies of sensitive material it was decided with reluctance to forgo the Annual Exhibition ” through to 1948.  And again in 1951 when the dates offered to the club by the Art Gallery were too early in the season, so the exhibition was put back to January 1952.  There has always been a good entry, prints have usually numbered over a hundred, in 1937 it was thought “desirable to ask the entrants to pick their own order of merit, so that should there be insufficient space to exhibit all the pictures, some of the surplus ones could be taken out of each entrants work, from the bottom of the list”.

This is still said of our most recent exhibition at the Priory Centre, now held in November,  because of the excellent facilities at the Priory Centre we have plenty of room to show all the work submitted by the members, but look forward to time when we have to invoke that ruling above.

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Burton Photographic Society is affiliated to the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (PAGB)
through the Midland Counties Photographic Federation (MCPF)
Copyright Burton on Trent PS all rights reserved.
The Burton Photographic Society is not responsible for the content of external sites.
copyright of all the images on this website remain with the author
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