The Founding of Todmorden Photographic SocietyFollowingthefellingofamillchimneyatLobMill,whenaGoldMedalwasoffered,bythesteeplejack,tothephotographerproducingthe bestpictureofthechimneywhilstitwasfalling,ameetingwasheldatSunderland'sOldMarketCaféonThursdayNovember29th1906.The meetingwaswellattendedandMrW.E.Shackletonpresided.Thedecisiontoformasocietywastakenandacommitteeofsevenwas appointed with Mr J. S. Atherton as secretary.ApublicmeetingwascalledonMondayDecember10thwhenRulesandObjectiveswereconsidered.Theobjectsofthesocietywere reported by the local press as follows:-a) To promote a friendly and helpful intercourse amongst all classes of photographers in the Town and District, andb)Toextendtheknowledgeandpracticeofphotographicprocessesbymeansoflectures,meetings,exhibitionsandsuchothermethodsas may be proved to led to the culture of the art-science.ThesocietyacquiredaroomatRoomfieldBuildings,HalifaxRoadwhereonJanuary17th1907aformalopeningwasperformedbythe mayor Alderman A. Crossley J.P., Alderman Wm. Ormerod was elected the first President of the society.Thenexthomewasa'Studio'atDoghouseuntil,webelieveduringthe1920's,WellingtonRoadCo-opReadingRoomwasacquiredwhere, for£1perweekthesocietyhadsoletenancy.Ithadagoodsizedlectureroom,asmallkitchenandaseparateroomwhichwaseasily convertedintotwodarkrooms.Itwassaidtobesheerluxury,whencomparedtothepreviousvenues,andwas'”greatlyadmiredandenvied by neighbouring societies”. This was to be the headquarters of the society for over fifty years.Footnote – The winning photographer of the mill chimney was a Mr Frank Stenhouse of Carr Terrace, Walsden.
Todmorden Photographic Society at Townley Hall 1954Front row: Peter Lever, Colin Lever, John Elliman, Rudy Holzapfel, Lynne Lever, Richard Holt, Douglas Simpson, Ronald Simpson, Ann BarkerMiddle: Clare Lever, Jack Lever, Fred Elliman, Will Kerr, Robert Cunliffe, Arthur BarkerBack: Richard Howarth, Geoff Kerr, Cecil Nutter, Joe SimpsonPhoto by John Barker
Douglas Simpson writes:I have many memories of going on Society trips and attending lectures at Wellington Road and social events there. A lecture by a war photographer with pictures of Mussolini hanging from a lamp post and of a concentration camp (Belsen I think), sticks in my mind. Dad had a darkroom in the attic when we lived at Hollins Villas, Henshaw Road, Walsden, and I spent much time in there with him. Our children Helen and Jonathan have one of his cameras each, but they are late 35mm from when he had gone on to transparencies. The ones that mattered to him have long since gone; a twin lens Rolli and a big mahogany and brass plate camera, converted to half plate film, which he use for still life.He was a haulage contractor who with his brothers Arthur and Fred operated their business from New Barn, Laneside.