Gateshead Camera Club History


On Thursday 24 October 1985 the Gateshead Post newspaper featured an article under the heading GATESHEAD CAMERA CLUB HAS LOST ITS HISTORY.  Club member Terry Pollands said the club was established in 1910 but what happened over the years is a mystery as no one can find the records.

Terry believes the records were lost to the club as long ago as 1966. We are now in the year 2023 and the records remain lost to the club but may be gathering dust in someone’s attic.  

This is an attempt to piece together the club history based on old newspapers held in the British Newspaper Archive.

Gateshead Camera Club and Workshop’s above Hunters Tobacconist’s

Once the Bewick Assembly Rooms on High West Street

Barclays Bank on West Street took over the Mechanics Institute building.

Newcastle Journal - Monday 3 February 1902

Gateshead Camera Club

On Saturday evening Mr W Fitzjames White, president of the Gateshead Camera Club read a paper on Pictorial Composition, before the members in the Bewick Hall, High West Street, Gateshead. Mr White’s remarks were of great value to amateur photographers who strive after artistic rather than topographical results in their work.  His main points were made clearer by illustrations and sketches, an interesting discussion followed.

(This is the earliest mention anywhere of the club, so it looks like the club or a club with that name was established late 1901.)


Newcastle Journal - Thursday 6 March 1902

Photography, amateur and otherwise, has during the past few years made good headway in the North.  It’s only recently that the two northern counties of Northumberland and Durham have become federated for common purposes in connection with the advance and development of photography.  

Under the organisation which is known as the Photographic Federation of Durham and Northumberland, upwards of 600 photographers have become one united body, and it is proposed to hold the first federation day at Durham on Whit Monday.  On that occasion the members of the various federated clubs will meet in the city for photographic purposes, and an attractive programme will be provided for the numerous visitors who, its expected, will visit the city on that occasion.  Besides which a large group of the federation will be taken.  Mr J Davenport, of South Shields, is president of the federation and Mr Payne, of the Gateshead Camera Club, is the secretary.


Newcastle Journal - Thursday 17 April 1902

Last evening Mr R Brady of South Shields gave an instructive address on Carbon Printing and a demonstration of development in the single and double transfer process before the members of the Gateshead Camera Club in the Bewick Hall.


Newcastle Journal - Tuesday 20 May 1902

Photographic Federation of Northumberland & Durham

The first visit of the Photographic Federation which comprises Photographic societies in Northumberland and Durham yesterday was attended with distinct success.  Upwards of twelve federated societies were represented including Gateshead, Blyth, Bishop Auckland, Blaydon, Heaton, Durham City, Lemington, South Shields and other places.   The members were met on their arrival at Durham railway station by the president of the Durham City Camera Club Mr W Moult and other members of the Durham Club.  The article went on to say the president of Gateshead Camera Club Mr W Fitzjames White A.R.C.A attended as did Mr Arthur Payne in his capacity as secretary of the Federation.


Newcastle Journal - Thursday 13 November 1902

Gateshead Camera Club Photography at Night

The modern amateur photographer is a being of infinite resource. The setting of the sun does not mark the cessation of his activities.  The fact of darkness clothing the earth merely signifies to him that he must change his methods and set to work to record the many interesting effects only to be observed during the hours when mankind, through the medium of some amiable gas or electric company, itself looks after the illumination of its haunts and habitations.  The many charming subjects available under these artificial conditions were exemplified in the course of a lecture by Mr Ellis Kelsey, delivered before, the Gateshead Camera Club at the Bewick Assembly Rooms, High West Street. Gateshead.  Night photography, it turns out, is merely a matter of rapid lenses, rapid plates, and patience.  Give your lens time, and it will record upon the sensitive plate the most faintly lighted scene; but for respectable photographers who desire to conclude their operations short of midnight, the scene should be illuminated brightly.  

A highly pictorial rendering of a frost-covered tree, lighted by a common streetlamp, was shown in illustration of the lecturer's remark that the most every-day scenes contained gems for the night photographer.  A wet or snowy night is the best, as the streets reflect and re-reflect the lights in picturesque lines and patches.  Some excellent views in Trafalgar Square and on the river Thames embankment were shown in illustration of this point.  Even the humble candle, it appears, is sufficient to serve the purpose of the photographer, for the lecturer illustrated and explained a method by which he had photographed himself reclining in bed, posing before the camera for eleven minutes.   

The interest of the subject was increased by the exhibition of a number of slides by Dr Grun collected by the editor of The Photogram.  Dr Grun is the inventor of a new form of lens sufficiently rapid to render actual snap-shotting possible by artificial light, and many of the examples shown were scenes from popular plays taken in a theatre, with a hand-camera, from one side of the stalls.


Newcastle Journal - Wednesday 10 December 1902

Gateshead Camera Club

Last evening a meeting of the Gateshead Camera Club was held in the Bewick Rooms, High West Street. Mr Arthur Payne, F.C.S. presiding. Messrs Routledge and Brownlow gave a demonstration of flashlight work and showed numerous examples on lantern slides.  Their hints to the beginner in this class of photography were much appreciated by the members.


Lancashire Evening Post - 2 January 1903

F M Sutcliffe and Photographic Stages

Mr F M Sutcliffe, of Whitby, has written an open letter in Gateshead Camera Club hand book, says the “Yorkshire Post,” in which he says there are in the life of a photographer three stages, the first is one of blissful ignorance when every photograph, good, bad, or indifferent gives us pleasure; the second stage is reaction from the former, and we see faults in all do, and with presumption try to put Nature right. The boast of photography, Mr Sutcliffe points out, is that it is honest if ignorant, and considers that we do wrong when we make it deceptive. He continues, “Then comes the third stage, and we sit down calmly and strip from the backs of all our negatives the tissue papers and their burden of lies. We rub off all those false lights we had put here and there to brighten up our pictures, for we know now that those lights only destroy breadth. We are not even content with any sky unless it is on the same plate the rest of our subject. We know that once or twice a year every subject under the sun is at its best, and lighted in a manner which will give a negative which will print perfectly without any doctoring.  In our third stage we are content to wait for these opportunities. . . Perhaps there are further stages, for a man’s opinion should change with the man himself.  The most perfect photograph is a very different thing to man 50 and to youth 20; to the one it is but a shadow, to the other it is substance”.

Newcastle Daily Chronicle - Thursday 5 March 1903

Gateshead Camera Club First Annual Exhibition

The first annual photographic exhibition of the Gateshead Camera Club was held in the Bewick Assembly Rooms, High West Street. Gateshead, yesterday afternoon and evening, and the members are to be complimented upon the quality of their initial show. The number of entries received was most satisfactory, and the work sub-mitted was of a high average. The processes' most favoured by the competitor were the carbon, bromide and platinotype, and many splendid' examples of architectural, landscape and portraiture work were sent in. There were pictures in the members class, and titles from members of the Federation there was also on view a loan collection which included photographs by Messrs David Blount, T Fitzgibbon-Forde, Walter Scott and F H Worley-Benison. A new method of judging adopted in the member’s class. Instead of having different sections. such as architecture, landscape, etc., the judges were invited to select 20 per cent from the best of the work sent in by members, and each member who had a work selected received a commemoration medal. The best picture in the members' class was stated by the judges to be a fine carbon landscape Gloom by Mr G Rowley. In the Federation class, which included contributions from the Durham Camera Club, the South Shields Photographic Society. the Heaton Amateur Photographic Society, the Gateshead Camera Club, the Sunderland Camera Club, the Bishop Auckland Photographic Association and the Blaydon Camera Club, the silver medal was won by a carbon print of the south choir aisle of Durham Cathedral, the work of Mr C H Hewitt (Gateshead), and the bronze medal was taken by Mr G Rowley with a carbon portrait.  A picture highly commended was a view of Durham taken on an ortho -chromatic plate, and printed in sepia platinum, a work sent by Mr Roger Brady of the South Shields Society. Mr Worsley-Benison whose seascape work is well known, was represented by several splendid examples. Mr T C Hughes exhibited some fine photomicrographs and of Mr Arthur Payne’s ortho-chromatic work was also on view.  Other exhibits well; worthy of mention were contributed by Mr G Waite, Mr A B Gardner, Mrs Wright and Mr J T Brownlow.

The list of awards was as follows: Member Class; Seven bronze medals all of equal value to the following exhibitors who had work selected W Fitzjames – White A.R.C.A., G Bowley, C H Hewitt, Oswin F Hingley, Arthur Payne FCS, F Rawes, and W J Routledge.  Lantern Slide Class; bronze medal, Oswin F Hingley.  Federation Class; silver medal C H Hewitt, bronze medal G Bowley, highly commended Roger Brady.  

There was a large attendance at the opening ceremony. which was performed by the Mayor of Gateshead Coun. Walter Wilson.  His worship was introduced by Mr W Fitzjames-White, the president of the club, and in the course of his remarks the mayor complimented the members upon the beautiful pictures they had produced.  Some people, he said; called photography of that kind a hobby, but when they looked round that room and saw what had been accomplished, they would say that it was far beyond a hobby. (Hear. hear.)  

Photography took people into the country when they otherwise would not go, and they learned an enormous amount from Nature.  The art, for it was art, also afforded a great deal of pleasure in the home, not only to the artist but to others, though sometimes the photographer in the house was a nuisance. (Laughter.)   Gateshead Camera Club seemed to be of the go-ahead type, and he was informed that they were responsible for the formation of the Federation of the two northern counties.  

They had put up a very good exhibition, and for their first effort he was sure they were deserving of hearty congratulations.  He had great pleasure in declaring 'the exhibition open’ and he wished the club every success. (Applause.)  A hearty vote of thanks was accorded the Mayor for his attendance on the motion of Ald. Armour, seconded by Dr Blacklock.  

During the evening the exhibition was attended by a large number of people.  The pictures had been neatly hung around the room by Mr C H Hewitt, the hon. secretary of the club and Mr W J  Routledge, each of whom had worked hard for the success of the exhibition.  Pianoforte selections were played at interval by Miss Alice Young and Miss Blanche Dalton.


West Cumberland Times - 18 March 1903

The Successful Cockermouth Camerist

 In the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle of Saturday last, Mr C H Hewitt, in his "Photographic Notes," —" I am a great believer in the educational value of exhibitions.  'Workers soon find their position and are stimulated to further efforts if they have any place in them’.  

I have been seeing the work one has produced being hung beside others, both worse and better enables one to see both what must be aimed at and what must be avoided.  I said last week I should make some reference to the pictures shown at the Gateshead Camera Club exhibition and whilst doing so I may remark on Mr G Bowley’s success. 

Since the exhibition I have made some enquiries and I find that Mr Bowley, who quite recently joined the Gateshead C.C. is yet in his teens, and had never seen a philographic exhibition, though he was familiar with the work of one or two really clever workers, and he has been influenced by their work. The judges considered his picture, "Gloom," the best work submitted in the member's class. His other picture, a long oblong, entitled ‘Crowned with sunlight--over darkness’, represented a dark shadowed riverbank is the near foreground, whilst the opposite back is brightly sunlit.  The contrasts, though strong, are carefully managed, and the shadows and high lights are alike lull of detail.  

Mr Bowley is a worker of whom more will be heard, and it he progresses as satisfactorily as he has begun, we shall hear of his work being hung at the salon before very long.


Newcastle Evening Chronicle - 24 March 1904

Gateshead Camera Club 

The members of the Gateshead Camera Club demonstrated their enthusiasm in their art, and their excellence of manipulation, in an exhibition held last night in the Bewick Hall Gateshead.  

The number of those who take photographs is legion, but they are few, comparatively, who attain to the standard of skill illustrated in this exhibition and particularly in the prints that secured the awards in the competition; and the beautiful and delicate impressions assuredly gave the lie to the insertion sometimes made even now that photography is not art, but merely a hard mechanical process depending on rules that admit of little modification.  

Some of the sun pictures were softer than the softest mezzotint, and they reproduced all manner of subjects—figures, landscape and seascape, and groups admirably disposed and full of interest.  A bronze medal in class 1 went to Mr Oswin F Hingley for a very virile character study “Old Ned Fry” and another given to Mr J Harbottle for “The Tyne Ferry”, a moving river scene. Certificates in class 1 were awarded as follows; - J Harbottle, “The Writer and A Submarine Explosion”; W J Routledge, “A Tyne Wherry”; and in class 2 to R. Chalmers, “A Manx Glen”; G T Miller, “A Christmas Sunrise”; A C  Greaves, “The Return of the Boats”. In Class 3 to O.F. Hingley, as well as a certificate, an extra bronze medal for the best lantern slide in the exhibition. In class 4 lantern slides, a certificate was awarded to G T  Miller.  There were, besides the members works, a number of photographs on loan from several famous followers of the art.


Newcastle Chronicle - Tuesday 7 May 1904

Federation Annual Re-union.

Last year the re-union of the Federation of the Photographic Societies of Northumberland and Durham took the form of a social gathering and supper at the exhibition of the Gateshead Camera Club. The year before a pic-nic at Durham with opportunities for field and interior photography was arranged. 

These two forms will probably alternate, and this year the members of the federated societies and their friends and other photographic workers, are invited by the Bishop Auckland society to pay a visit to that town. The pic-nic takes place as two years ago, on Whit-Monday, and the visitors will be received by the Bishop Auckland society at the gates of the Bishop’s Park at 11.30am. The afternoon will be spent in various ways according to the individual’s taste photographically. (Abridged).


Newcastle Chronicle - Saturday 18 June 1904


The Gateshead Camera Club has sustained a severe loss by the sudden death of its hon. Secretary Mr W J Routledge.  When I wrote my notes a week ago, he had just called to see me, and before they appeared in the “Weekly Chronicle” I had attended his funeral. An enthusiastic photographer he was always ready to give assistance to others in their difficulties, and often spent time in this way which he should have given to rest or recreation.  

Always pleasant and genial, free from irritability and with an almost unlimited capacity for hard work, he was an ideal secretary, and when he took over the office a year ago, he continued the progressive policy which had characterised the club, and practically the last day of his life was largely devoted to the furtherance of the scheme for securing new club rooms, a library and an enlarging lantern.  All who knew him liked him, and more than a little, and many North- Country workers will feel that they have lost a friend. Gateshead Camera Club will seek far before they find anyone who will adequately fill his place. C H HEWITT.


 Newcastle Daily Chronicle - 11 October 1904

Gateshead Camera Club

The re-constructed Gateshead Camera Club has now got excellent rooms at 87 High Street, facing Swinburn Street, and the members seem likely to do some excellent work.  The apartments comprise a large reading room and a smoking room fitted with a photographic library, supplied with current literature.  As well as a meeting and classroom, and a large dark room, the last named fitted with sink, water, benches etc., ready for use, and also furnished with a half plate enlarging lantern.  

Part of the work envisaged in is the holding of elementary photographic classes under the tuition of competent instructors to which the members have the right to free admission. Exhibitions, lectures, at homes etc., are to be held at intervals. The entrance fee has been fixed at 2s-6d, and the annual contributions- gentlemen, 10s-6d: ladies 5s, the hon sec is Mr Arthur Greaves.  The club rooms are open daily from 10am to 11pm. Mr W Fitzjames White, ARCA is president and Messrs A Woolsey Blacklock MD and Arthur Payne FCS, FRPS, are vice presidents.


Newcastle Daily Chronicle - 27 December 1905

Gateshead Camera Club Annual Exhibition

The annual photographic exhibition organized by the Gateshead Camera Club in the Mechanics Institute, West Street, Gateshead, yesterday, was one of the best held in the few years the club has now been in existence.

Indeed, there will probably be some intimately connected with the club who will contend that it was certainly the best that has been organized by the officials.  Be this as it may, one could not help being struck by the excellence to which the art—it is, of course, a contentious word to apply to photography—has attained.  The advance in photography is palpable to the eye of even the casual observer.  We no longer get mere photographs; we get pictures.  And the progression is not confined to the professional artist only, but the amateur, in his love for the beautiful, is vying with his more expert brother in the production of the choicest camera creations.

What camera clubs have done in the direction of the perfection of photography is an interesting speculation; but that they must do much to cultivate public taste was evident from the excellent exhibition at the Mechanics' Institute yesterday the success of which was largely contributed to by the efforts of Mr Thomas Miller the secretary of the Gateshead Camera Club.  The exhibits of yesterday numbered about 70, being a similar total to that at the last exhibition: but the quality was far ahead of last year.  There were three classes, and as was to be expected, the open class was much the best, including as it did competitors from all over the country *from Wales, and Scotland, and Manchester, St. Leonard's-on-Sea, London, Hastings and Warrington were a few of the places represented.  

The members' class, however, was filled by photographs which, while not of the same merit as those in the open class, reflected great credit on the competitors, and should serve as an incentive to the club to rise to a still higher level of excellence.  Particularly was this the case with the class open to all members of the club who exhibited pictures not having won an award before the date of exhibition.  The class for members who had never won a prize of any description was a little disappointing for a silver and bronze medal had been given in the hope the conditions would appeal to the less experienced members and encourage them to compete. 

The response. however, was not as spontaneous as could have been wished, and the judge, Mr David Blount, who adjudicated with every dispatch and satisfaction, only awarded one of the prizes in this section. Mr Blount spoke in high terms of the exhibition as a whole and eulogized particularly the work in the open section. This was, indeed, the feature of the display, the pictures being of a high standard and revealing much pictorial- instinct and good taste on the part of the producers.  Where the exhibition was weak was in figure study a greater representation of which would have been welcome.  

A little more discretion, too, might perhaps have been used in the choice of framing, which was rather heavy, there being a somberness about the pictures quite unnecessary in some cases, with the result that the photographs were not shown to the best possible advantage.  But it was a good show.

The silver medal in the open class was won by Mr H Lindoe, of Sunderland, with "Old Durham," being a 'fine representation of the larger portion of the cathedral from one of the quaint streets of the antique town.  It is in a beautiful warm brown tone, and the smoke from the house tops gives perspective to the noble pile. A splendid print in black platinotype entitled ‘Through a Court way’ won the bronze medal for second prize, carried off by Mr A W  Walburn, of West Hartlepool whose picture was quite a simple study, the detail of which was conspicuous, ‘An Up-Tyne Village’ had a familiar air about it, and Corbridge was presented in all the rich foliage of the trees, with the Tyne dreamily rolling by.  The picture, which was, if anything, a trifle granular, but was good in other ways, won the third prize, also a bronze medal, and was shown by Mr T S Irvin of North Shields. 

Originally it was intended to award only three prizes for the open class; but a fourth was apportioned, also a bronze medal, and this was carried off by Mr J Walton of Sunderland with ‘Morning Mists’, which represents a fleet of Cobles in the harbour.  It is in a soft grey tone, and the water and the shadows in it are when the mists of morn are rolling away and the life of another day is just beginning.  

The feature of the members classes was a double tone print by Mr J T Brownlow, of Gateshead, the treasurer of the club, entitled ‘Peggy Manson, An Old Shetlander’, and is the first of its kind to have been exhibited in the district. Congratulated on his success, not only in his print, but the choice of his subject, for the lady with whose photograph he yesterday won a special bronze plaque, the picture being singled out as being worth more than ordinary attention, had never been taken before, is in her 101st year, and resides in one of the Shetland Isles.  Mr Brownlow's photograph, which is, of course, above the average amateur results, was specialized in Class 2* for more experienced members of the club. The winner of the bronze plaque in this class was Mr F W Marshall, of Gateshead, who exhibited, several pictures of a similar distinctive character to ‘March Winds’ *a scene typical of the month of blustering winds, bleak and leafless, and a local scene at that being a view of part of the country in the neighborhood of the Team Gut.  The picture is in a light key. ‘Homeward Bound’, shown by Mr S Thompson, of Gateshead, captured the second prize, a 'bronze medal.  His sea scene, a fishing smack containing pleasure seekers making for the harbour, and taken off Bridlington, is a bromide enlargement, with a good aerial perspective and softness of tone, the coble coming out well against the light.  In Class 1, for those who had not won a prize before.  Mr  J Manners, of Gateshead, was successful with a flower study in blue carbon, and won the silver medal. Altogether the exhibition was very artistic and interesting.  At night, the members held a social and dance in connection with the exhibition.

At this point in my research Gateshead Camera Club vanishes completely from both the British Newspaper Archive and local history records. On reading the report it looks like someone upset the members.

Peter Annable

Newcastle Journal - Friday 6 January 1911

Camera Club for Gateshead

A photographic association has been formed under the name of the Gateshead and District Camera Club. The Secretary is N.F. Brown of 38 Faraday Grove, Gateshead.

Gateshead Camera Club handbook - 2019/2020 (Syllabus)

Gateshead Camera Club held its inaugural meeting on 21 November 1910. 

We have no records to confirm attendance at the first meeting, but the club has continued to meet regularly for more than 100 years.

Peter Annable


To be continued