“From Bicycles to the Present Day”

11 (2)

Beginnings of Bradford Camera Club

What is now a flourishing club began its existence as a small group of enthusiastic cyclists who were interested in Photography. The moving spirit amongst the group was the late Mr. Joseph Bruce and his wife Mabel, co-directors of what we know now as “Bradford Camera Exchange” in North Parade. The group called themselves the ‘Cycle Photographers’ Folio Group’ and the first meetings were held in the home of Mr. & Mrs Bruce but as numbers increased it was deemed necessary to look for alternative accommodation.

For the first few years the group was known as ‘Bradford Junior Photographic Club’ but as time ticked by it was decide to rename to ‘Bradford Camera Club’. Various rooms in the city were used including the then Mitchell’s Cafe in Godwin Street, followed by a longer period at the Queen Hotel, Bridge Street demolished many years ago.

Cartright Hall

First Exhibition

At the outbreak of the second world war on 3rd September 1939 when the club held its first Exhibition in Cartwright Hall from Saturday 2nd to 23rd September, it was decided that every effort should be made to maintain the club’s activities if at all possible and despite the many difficulties of those members who did not have to serve in the Armed Forces, they managed to keep the club in being. In April 1944 the club opened its own rooms at St. John’s Chambers, 14 Manchester Road. The official opening was performed by Alexander Keighley, Hon F.R.P.S., who congratulated the members on their enterprise in embarking on such a venture during war time. The opening was also attended by the chairman of the city Art Galleries Committee, Alderman John Shee and J. Crowther Cox, F.R.P.S. a photographer with a worldwide reputation.

During these early years the club went from strength to strength and three members became so proficient in photography that they were elected to the Associateship of the Royal Photographic Society – a much coveted honour!

The war-time period proved to be less of a threat to the club’s existence than its aftermath as the city’s re-development came into operation and the Manchester Road premises were demolished prompting another move to the Mechanic’s Institute this also proved to be short lived as the building became another to be removed from the central area of the city. Accommodation in the city was at a premium and the members were becoming anxious that the club could come to an untimely end. However, Church House in North Parade proved to be a happy solution to the continual upheavals but even this venue finally closed! Another unexpected closure, and, indeed quite a setback for the club but thanks to some untiring efforts of three of the club officials Raphael House, William Street was obtained and the club settled down to build an excellent reputation for some years. Unbelievable though it sounds in 1998 the club was asked to vacate Raphael House by the council who needed it for other purposes. The hunt for premises started all over again until the good people of The Oddfellows  in Carlton House, 46 Little Horton Lane negotiated a price for one of their rooms. There the Bradford Camera Club resided until December 2015 offering a wide variety of photographic opportunities. The club moved out to Cottingley Community Centre until 2020 when Covid Lockdown occurred Nationwide. Members continued to meet on Zoom and then the club reopened September 2021 in the family room, St Matthews Church, Wilsden.

BPS logo 1

Bradford Photographic Society

BPS was one of the oldest photographic societies in the world (we think the 2nd). It all started a little before 1860 but it was in 1860 that the BPS was formed, and its first president was John Venimore Godwin. Godwin was not long in BPS – probably due his becoming Mayor of Bradford in 1865 (his son later becoming the first Lord Mayor of Bradford).

Other early presidents were – Percy Lund, Alex Keighley and Alfred Greenwood. All exceptional photographers. Alfred Greenwood along with Joe Bruce founded ‘The Bradford Camera Exchange in 1932.

BPS were the founder members of ‘The Yorkshire Photographic Union’

Alex Keighley – who became the first president of the YPU

Percy Lund was very influential name in photography. In 1886 he produced “The Photographers World”, and was a large retailer of photographic materials.

Over the years we have been asked to do all sorts of photography work including a request by Bradford City to photograph ‘old’ Bradford in the 1960s, and being photographers for Undercliff Cemetery.

Bradford Photographic Society ceased to exist in 2022 and incorporated into Bradford Camera Club