The Founding of Todmorden Photographic Society Following the felling of a mill chimney at Lob Mill, when a Gold Medal was offered, by the steeplejack, to the photographer producing the best picture of the chimney whilst it was falling, a meeting was held at Sunderland's Old Market Café on Thursday November 29th 1906. The meeting was well attended and Mr W.E. Shackleton presided. The decision to form a society was taken and a committee of seven was appointed with Mr J. S. Atherton as secretary. A public meeting was called on Monday December 10th when Rules and Objectives were considered. The objects of the society were 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, and b) To extend the knowledge and practice of photographic processes by means of lectures, meetings, exhibitions and such other methods as may be proved to led to the culture of the art-science. The society acquired a room at Roomfield Buildings, Halifax Road where on January 17th 1907 a formal opening was performed by the mayor Alderman A. Crossley J.P., Alderman Wm. Ormerod was elected the first President of the society. The next home was a 'Studio' at Doghouse until, we believe during the 1920's, Wellington Road Co-op Reading Room was acquired where, for £1 per week the society had sole tenancy. It had a good sized lecture room, a small kitchen and a separate room which was easily converted into two darkrooms. It was said to be sheer luxury, when compared to the previous venues, and was '”greatly admired and envied 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 1954 Front row: Peter Lever, Colin Lever, John Elliman, Rudy Holzapfel, Lynne Lever, Richard Holt, Douglas Simpson, Ronald Simpson, Ann Barker Middle: Clare Lever, Jack Lever, Fred Elliman, Will Kerr, Robert Cunliffe, Arthur Barker Back: Richard Howarth, Geoff Kerr, Cecil Nutter, Joe Simpson Photo 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.
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