The First 50 years

Galashiels Camera Club was officially formed in 1934, although mention has been made of a club as far back as l894.

There was a large attendance at their first meeting, which was held in Roxburgh Street School. Dr. Percy Henderson was elected as Chairman and Percy H. Cartwright as Secy./Treasurer. The committee comprised, Forbes W. Adam, R.S. Wood, J.H. Frater, W. Angus and a Mr Logan.

From the club’s conception, it was apparent that the members were both enthusiastic and successful photographers.

By the beginning of the following year, 1935, this enthusiasm was reflected in the successes of many of the members. One such person being Alex. Sheppard, who, at 13 years of age, was the envy of his fellow members, having won competitions run by the photographic magazines of the day.

In 1936, four club members had their prints accepted for the Scottish National Salon, held that year in Dundee.

The club’s first exhibition was held in April, l936, in the Burgh School. Over 100 people were present, when it was officially opened by Provost G. Mercer. A total of 269 prints were displayed – 141 of those coming from the club members, and the rest, from invited exhibitors from all over Scotland.

In 1938 Galashiels were asked to host the 30th Scottish National Salon. This took place in April of that year in the Technical College (now D.H.S.S.) and was opened by the Duchess of Roxburghe.

The club’s winter season in 1939 opened in new premises at 30 High Street, in which had been installed a darkroom, a lighting system and backgrounds for members’ use. Meetings prior to this time had been held in Forbes Adams office in Green Street. Membership at this time cost 15 shillings.

Members enthusiasm allowed the club to continue during the war years, despite restricted supplies, and a successful exhibition was held in 1946 when 240 prints were displayed. Many of those prints had been taken in the Borders Countryside. The reason for this was thought at the time to be the obvious travel restrictions during war.

In 1947 the club was the first to affiliate with the newly formed Arts Club, who, in 1949, purchased old Gala House – home of the Lairds of Gala for centuries. Camera Club meetings were held there until recent years.

The Club was again honoured in 1950, when asked to display the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Photographic Society. This honour may be better appreciated when it is noted that Galashiels was one of only four centres presenting it that year – the others being Aberdeen, Glasgow and London. Some 2300 people visited it.

In 1953 Galashiels once again hosted the Scottish Salon of Photography in the Scottish Woollen Technical College.

In the early sixties it was noted that membership had fallen, despite the fact that there had been 60 members the previous year. Trade processed colour, the high cost of producing large exhibition prints was blamed. Also, very little use was being made of the club’s new and well equipped darkroom.

In 1962, black and white photography still seemed to be very much the favourite in the club. To illustrate this it was noted that members who wished to show their colour slides were told they could do so after the close of normal meetings .

In 1963 membership cost £1.10.0 for seniors and 10/6 for juniors.

In the late sixties and early seventies, the club became increasingly more popular, with many members interested in colour photography, but, despite this, the loyalties of the majority still lay with black and white. The feeling amongst these members was that the technique of colour photography had been made so easy that people tended to rest content with it, not realising that the artistic side was more important, and that success, in this required long and careful study!

By 1977, interest in the club had diminished so such that the club stopped meeting.

In March, 1982, thanks to the late Drew Waldie, an open meeting was held in Old Gala House to see if there was enough interest to revive the Club. Approx. 50 people attended and, thankfully, since then Galashiels Camera Club has been in existence.

The club is now preparing to start a second winter season in Langlee Centre, where a new darkroom has been installed for the members.

New members are always made welcome in the club, and it is hoped that they too will be infected by the enthusiasm which had been generated over the last fifty years.

Sheila Scott

The last 25 years

(Notes from 75th Anniversary Exhibition – currently on show at Old Gala House until 31st October 2009)

This exhibition, marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Club, is a celebration of the diversity of interests of it’s members, as well as the range of techniques used – from medium format, 35 mm and of course digital.

The images you see in the exhibition have been selected by the individual members from their own portfolios, to represent their work. They are not necessarily all prize winners (although many are), nor are they meant to be.

Photographers of all levels and abilities are welcome at the Club.

Since 1984 Galashiels Camera Club have met in the Langlee Community Centre, and although have had their ups and downs like any other club, still have a healthy membership. Currently we have around 35.

This year we will be hosting the clubs 21st Annual Agricultural Photographic Competition (“the Agri”), in association with the Borders NFU. This is an open competition, and attracts 100’s of entries from as far a-field as Berwick-upon-Tweed and Newcastleton.

In 1998 we received a grant from “Awards for All” to buy a computer and associated kit. This was the first foray into the digital world for the club. Although even today not all members have fully embraced the digital technology (and there is nothing wrong with that!), the club does have it’s own digital projector which is used regularly.

Much like 50 years ago, the Camera Club still has it’s usual round of competitions, lectures, slide shows, practical nights and outings. We also take part in competitions run by the SPF, and also local inter-club competitions.

In addition to that, we have also been involved with the Langlee Carnival since it’s resurrection in 2004. We were asked to record the day’s events, and display the work of the Club. There are a selection of the images taken on display in this exhibition.

The Club has also been represented at the Borders Adult Learning and Achievement Group’s BIG event at the Volunteer Hall, Galashiels, for the last few years.

Ian Oliver
Chairman – 2009

Above is a 2017 image (right) recreating the 1950 visit of the club to Moffat (left). Note the rowing boats have been replaced by pedaloes.