Rye District Camera Club’s Golden Anniversary

The Rye & District Camera Club put on an annual Print Exhibition at the Further Education Centre, Lion Street on Saturday 10 September and celebrated 50 years of continuous activity.

To survive as a photographic club for fifty years is some achievement, especially in the light of the changes that have been made in recording images over those years.

At the beginning, in the times of founder members Ted Parlett, Maurice Ellwood, Billy Bryan, Walter Mather and Reg. Clark, it was a monochrome world. In those early days just after the Second World War when photography was finding its feet again, those that wanted to process their own pictures worked exclusively in black & white. A feature of the early years of the club’s existence was a well equipped darkroom at the F.E. Centre. The darkroom was partly funded by East Sussex County Council and was in use until 1970.

Colin Page, Chairman of the Club recalls that having inherited an Agfa Silette camera from his grandfather Edward (Ted) Parlett, who died in 1977, and a Kalimar Six Sixty roll film camera from his great uncle Reg Clark, he joined the Rye & District Camera Club in 1978.

The club made its home at the old Lion Street School and were based there until very recently. Many lectures and demonstrations were provided by Kodak and renowned photographers from Fleet Street and the world of theatre and fashion.

Practical portraiture was also popular, one meeting having taken place at the Cock Inn, Peasmarsh, where two young lady models, Sue Turner from Battle and Sue Lancaster from Udimore were photographed using the instruments of the Peasmarsh Silver Band as props.

Slide “battles” (friendly competitions) against other local clubs from Bexhill and Hastings were popular. There were also regular outdoor meetings. Over the years competitions have become a major part of club activities, encouraging members to practice and improve their photography. Clubs

L to R :- Don Cooke, Pam Smith, Melvin Smith, Colin Page and John Hodges


Three pictures discovered in the “Rye’s Own” archive of the Rye Camera Club meeting at the Cock Inn 1966. Above :- Sue Turner with Peasmarsh Silver Band instrument. Below left:- Mr. Kimber of the Rye Camera Club and right:- Susan Lancaster from Udimore.

Since the days of monochrome prints on fibre based paper the club has passed through many phases, including a time when most of the work produced was in the form of colour slides (transparencies). Joe Pilcher, G e o r g e De lemare, Ernie Burt and Barbara Slater were particularly a c c o m – plished in t his me – dium. In the mid Eighties a band of enthusiasts in-Andrew Maylem and the late Dereck Hester engineered a revival of interest in printing, both in monochrome and colour. Since 1988 the club has been able to stage an annual print exhibition.

The club is now entering the digital age and many of the prints in the 2005 Exhibition were produced by various methods involving computers.

As this year’s exhibition demonstrated, the Rye club produces a high standard of work. This is emphasised by the fact that many examples have been shown, in slide and print form, at the Sussex and Kent Photographic Federation’s annual exhibitions over many years. Rye has often been in the top three in the slide category and has won the Sussex Federation Slide Convention on a number of occasions. Some Rye members have enjoyed success in national and international exhibitions.

Currently Melvin Smith and Colin Page visit other clubs in the area as speakers and ‘judges’ specialising in slide presentation and nature photography.

The club is best known for it’s nature photography but an influx of new members over the past decade has seen a broadening of horizons into ‘candid’ and creative picture making.

With the ever expanding choice of equipment and methods of creating and manipulating an image, many hours in the darkroom have been replaced by even more sitting at a computer. Surely nothing can surpass the thrill of being out there capturing THE MOMENT, using light and composition, whatever the subject may be.

Rye & District Camera Club attracts people from many walks of life and encourages members to further their photographic interest in a friendly and informal manner. There are ample opportunities for members to display their work by way of exhibitions and competitions and share the experience of fellow members and guest speakers.

All are welcome at the friendly Rye club from accomplished photographers to beginners, Compact, S.L.R., Digital and Box Brownie fans. Anyone with an interest in photography is made welcome.

From “Rye’s Own “ October 2005

All articles, photographs and drawings on this web site are World Copyright Protected. No reproduction for publication without prior arrangement.