Many thanks to Gren Cooper, one of the original founding members of the club, for putting together this account of the history of our club. This account was presented on the occasion of our 40th anniversary in 2007.

History of Ashby Camera Club


We must go back to 1966, the Ivanhoe Community College and an evening class in photography run by Bill Platt, the senior Adult Tutor. It was from this class that the Camera Club was formed, virtually all of them becoming club members. The first secretary wasn’t a local man but a Londoner, Terry Stone. He was up here working at Drakelow Poser Station and was staying at the Queens hotel in Market Street, Ashby. There are some of the original members here tonight; Bill Kennedy and Fred Wardle, Fred took over from Jerry at the end of the first year when Jerry moved away with his job.


So the club was up and running and cost you the princely sum of £1 5s or £1.25 per year; £1 for the club and 25p for the college as the club as a college club. There was no charge for the room. It met in lab 1 on Thursday evening which was ideal for demonstrating B & W printing (Just about every members developed and printed their own B&W at this time) and also the lab were far enough from the main school  to not need blacking out, although they did have curtains. The down side was that the stools became very uncomfortable after sitting on them for a while, no one fell asleep.


Starting from scratch it takes time to get involved with other clubs for competitions as programmes are usually put together 6-2 months in advance. You also need to be part of the wider photographic scene and so it was decided that we would apply for membership to the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain through the Midland Counties Area, this the club achieved in 1969 you had to be running for 12 months before you could apply. [read Nov 1968 sheet]


The first competition the club was involved in was in 1968 when we travelled to Long Eaton for the first leg and then back to Ashby for the return and we just happened to have the results. This was just a one off and we have never met Long Eaton again, as we started to have annual battles with South Derbyshire, Burton, Melbourne, Drakelow Power Station, Coalville and Shepshed, nearly all of these clubs we still meet some 30 years later. Unfortunately South Derbyshire finished and Drakelow, which became Taurus, stopped all external competitions. But this year and next year we will be meeting a new club, Earl Shilton.


Two things which Ashby did right from the beginning was to meet throughout the year, which was certainly unique amongst the local clubs and we still do now. The other was to stock photographic materials for members at less than shop prices and we still did this until last year.


I thought back about the summer outings and places we’ve visited: the Monastery, local pits where we actually went underground once, Derby Loco works, potteries, concrete pipe works, biscuit factory, power station, when we went inside the National grid Distribution Area, even the guides who took us round had not been in there, Redbank clay works, Calke Abbey walled garden, boat trips on the Trent, Moira furnace, brewery visits, numerous church and farm visits, Lounge Opencast at Lount and I could go on.


Back to the Club’s progress. We started to have lectures, competitions, with other clubs, and practical evenings like portraiture and so we needed a room that would be comfortable and that we could clear the floor. So on evenings like these we left the lab and had a more suitable room in the main school. This went on for a number of years, not having a room of our own. Then in the late 1970s or early 1980s a room was built on the back of the school. Having a friend in high places we were advised to request the new room for our meetings. It was ideal for us, a large carpeted area with sinks and work tops off to one side area, and no fixed seating. It had one drawback, the corridor still went through the top end of the room. This put other clubs and classes off, but our man at the top assured us that shortly it would be curtained off with a permanent partition in the future. So we gave up our nomadic life and settled down in the new named Pithivier room. Everything was fine for quite a number of years, then the status of the clubs within the Community College changed and we were no longer a college club, but became an affiliated club. This gave us a bit more freedom to do as we liked and our finances weren’t audited by the College as before. The downside was that we had to pay for the room which was fine up until the 2002/03 season when it shot up by £86 and I was told that the percentage amount reduction we received for being an Affiliated club would be decreased each year until we paid the full amount which at that time was £35 per night. It was out of the question that the club could pay this kind of money and survive, so for the 2005/06 Autumn/Winter programme we moved. Finding somewhere else in Ashby was very difficult, the only place on offer being “the Cottage” at St Helens Church  Yard and it meant meeting on Wednesday evenings and missing the last Wednesday each month. We moved and kept all our members and gained a few new ones. It was a nice little venue, we could  make our own refreshments which was great. But the emphasis was on little and  we realised that when we hosted battles the room would not be big enough. So looking around for another meeting place became a priority. Then the chance to come to Smisby came up and although it was out of town, it was ideal for the club, and so we moved here in September 2006.


The greatest change to photography undoubtedly must be the digital camera with an increasing number of members owning them and using manipulative software to produce pictures on the computer. It was felt that the club should try and purchase a laptop, digital projector and adobe photoshop software, this would give the club the ability to demonstrate digital techniques on club evenings and members would be able to use the equipment themselves. We applied to the Lottery for a grant and in 206 we were successful, shortly seeing some of the AVs that members have produced using it. No organisation is complete today without a website and Ashby Camera Club is no exception, we have had a site on and off for about 6 years so if you want to know what we are doing just go to


Lastly I would like to say thank you to Bill Pratt for running that class in Photography, without it there may never have been a club. Also to all the people who have taken part of have been a member over the last 40 years- Thank You.


Annual  Dinner

Around 1975 it was voiced that it would be nice to have an annual dinner. So it was duly booked at the “Old Bull” in market Street in their newly opened restaurant. The evening came, here is a picture of us all happy and smiling and the wine flowed and I can remember saying that if I had a sore head tomorrow I would know what it was. But it wasn’t a sore head I had; it was the other end. Quite a number of us had come down with food poisoning. But it did not put us off and the dinner became an annual event.


Grenville Cooper, originally written in 2007 for the club’s 40th  anniversary. Grenville (“Gren”) was one of the club original members. Transcribed from Gren’s handwritten notes June 2010