The Club we now know as Barry Camera Club has a long history, almost as old as Barry itself. It had been operating as part of the Barry YMCA since the late 1800s up to 1901 the year of its initial formation. The photographic club, as part of the YMCA, met in the YMCA building at 19 Holton Road where the concept of Barry Camera Club was first discussed. The founder members of the club are recorded as F.H.Brown, H.Van Wadendyen, G. Jenkins, G. Morgan, A. Harrison.
The original mandate of the club was:
“The promotion of the art and craft in photography and the development of pictorial photography, lectures and demonstrations in the district of Barry”.
Since 1907, when the YMCA premises in Newlands Street were occupied, dark room and lecture facilities had been provided to generations of photographers and enthusiasts.
The club had always represented Wales in the Photographic world. Hugo van Wadenoyen, a world-famous photographer and author of many photographic publications, was an original member of the club, as was his father before him. No Doubt he would willingly acknowledge his debt to the then president Mr. Gwyn Morgan, who has earned the affectionate title of “Father of Welsh Photography” and who worked with and inspired young photographers.
The London Salon of Photography had accepted and hung work from club members in past years. In addition to the members mentioned, salon exhibitors have included Mr G.F. Ryman, Messrs R. Hopkins and T.J. Lewis.
Between the Great Wars, Barry became well known as the venue of International Exhibitions which attracted much interest in South Wales and beyond. It is in no small measure, due to the reputation thus gained that the club has been able, on many occasions, to ensure the co-operation of some nationally distinguished photographers to proudly display their work. Since 1939 the international situation prevented the club from staging such exhibitions but it was hoped to resume these after the war.
The last war dealt a hard blow to Photographic Societies and Barry was no exception. At the end of the war the membership was as low as six but much hard work and enthusiasm on the part of the Honorary Secretary Mr Len Jones, willingly supported by the President and members, overcame the difficulties and restored the club to something approaching its former status.
Club Membership has historically been made up of men and women of various standards of proficiency, united by the love of their hobby and a determination to improve the quality of their work. The cameras in use in the early days varied considerably and range from Pin hole Cameras to the more elaborate and intricate miniatures and sizes from 35mm to the Presidents trusty half-plate apparatus.
The introduction of colour photography saw several members master the new processes along with the usual slides and monochrome prints. Welsh Salons and other national and international competitions then included contributions in the new technology of colour slide photography along with monochrome slides and prints.
1913 saw the first 35mm roll film used in miniature still cameras. By 1960 the technology became very popular and the Single Lens Reflex Camera from Asahi Pentax was born.
By 1975 the first digital images were captured by Kodak which led to the Point and shoot digital cameras. The first fully digital camera for professional use became available in the year 2000.
Photography has progressed to where it is today taking camera clubs with it.
Below is an example of an article from the Barry and District News dated April 1967 as one example of many of Barry Camera Clubs international connections.
“Barry Contingent at FECAMP France
The civic party and 150 representatives of local cultural and sporting societies from Barry had a great reception when they visited Fecamp over the Easter week-end for the opening of the new sports stadium and to take part in triangular games with Fecamp and Rheinfelden. As a result, new and firm links have been established with the Normandy Town with which Barry is linked.
Camera Club’s Exhibition
At Easter, in connection with the Barry – Fecamp civic link, nine members of the Barry Camera Club Visited Fecamp taking with them over 100 photographic prints, for an exhibition in the foyer of the new Salle Municipale of Fecamp.
The exhibition displayed the work of photographers of Fecamp, Rheinfelden and Barry. The Fecamp section showed magnificent seascapes by Pierre Bergoin, and Rheinfelden contributed colour photographs of France taken by visiting Germans. The Barry club displayed local seascapes, street scenes, portraits and photographic studies.”
During the early years, the club had very strong links with Barry Town Council and local businesses including the Dow Chemical Company. In fact, the Dow Chemical Company were awarded one of a set of silver and bronze medallions, produced in limited numbers, in recognition of its support and friendship of the club. Only two of these highly treasured medallions are held by the club. One has been inset into the Club Chairman’s Chain of Office, and the remaining one was presented to the Dow Chemical Company. The medallion was received by Mike Hadfield on behalf of Dow Corning and presented by John Donkin of Barry Camera Club.
Barry Camera Club is affiliated to the Welsh Photographic Federation (WPF) and hosted international photographic competitions at Barry Memorial Hall in 1956 and 1981. Over the years it has also been instrumental in hosting some world class photographic exhibitions on a regular basis with the support of the town council and the WPF.
The Barrian Cup is a prestigious annual competition hosted by Barry Camera Club since 1996 and includes the Dave Cowdrey Cup and more recently (2018) the Mike Lewis Trophy. It involves approximately 125 clubs from Wales and the south of England.
Over the years Barry Camera Club has operated from several club houses including:
Location From To Comments
YMCA Holton Road Barry 1901 1907 1953 Coronation & Centenary
YMCA Newlands Street 1907 1954 17/2/1954 Moved end of Feb
Brotherhod Social Club 18 Broad Street 1954 1958 As of 5th March 1954
Memorial Hall Barry 1958 1962 talk of move at AGM 1962 so may not be
YMCA Newlands Street Barry 1962 1970 Club accounts payments
Moose Hall Wyndham Street 1970 2004 1976 still mentioned in accounts
United Reform Church Windsor Rd 2004 2006
St. Francis Millennium Hall 2006 To Date
The dates and venues listed above have been gleaned from account and committee records and as such should only be seen as a guide.
Throughout the years, the club has faced the future with every confidence and it is hoped that it will continue to play an important role in Local, British and International Photography. In fact, camera clubs today (Post Covid 2022) face a similar situation to that seen after the war, with low number of members and a core of dedicated enthusiast who show extreme effort and determination to regain the status and social standing of camera clubs around Britain. It is these clubs that provide their members and often the general public with a knowledge and understanding of photography through photographic opportunity, education, competition and exhibition of their work.
N.B. The majority of this information has been taken from old club records of accounts and meeting minutes as well as from old local newspaper articles with some contribution from long standing members.
Phil Stillman (Current Chair)