IOMPC 85th Anniversary

Date Published 
Thu 16 Nov 2023

The most recent meeting of the Society marked a very special anniversary for the Island’s lonest established camera club because its members celebrated the Society’s 85th Anniversary. A specially commissioned cake was skilfully produced by Louise Hitchin from ‘Boxacakes’ of Ramsey and cut by two of the longest serving Life Members, Brenda and Ron Shimmin, at an impromptu ceremony, photographed by another Life Member, Andrew Barton of Andrew Barton Photography.

The Society is proud that it is able to trace its formation back to the 2nd November, 1938, when a small group of some 50 camera enthusiasts met at the Ellerslie Hotel in Douglas with the purpose of forming what became “the Isle of Man Photographic Society”.

History tells us that the first Society President, was the distinguished Reverend E H Stenning. He later became Canon Stenning and, then, was elevated to the position of the Venerable Archdeacon Stenning, subsequently becoming Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen in 1959. Archdeacon Stenning was to serve as the Society’s President for 12 years.

Another well-known local photographer and founder Member was Mrs Hilda Newby who had a popular studio on Prospect Hill in Douglas. She had served her apprenticeship with Langfier, the famous Court Photographer. Hilda and her husband, Robert, in a professional career spanning some 44 years (until 1969), photographed numerous local people, visitors and the then famous, such as Wee Georgie Wood, Florrie Forde, Binkie Stuart, Jon Pertwee and Joe Loss, who spent many Summer seasons on the Isle of Man with his highly accomplished orchestra. The Newby’s also had a great love for exhibition work. Many of these names will be familiar to readers of more advanced years who will be able to recall the Music Halls on the island of yesteryear. One of the Newby’s most famous studies was “The Laughing Flower Girl”, which won 40 awards and was hung in exhibitions throughout the world, including the International Exhibition in New York. (One of their granddaughters is also a past member of the Society).

Less than a year after the formation of the Society, came the outbreak of the Second World War when several members left to join the Armed Services, although they retained honorary membership during their absence. However, in spite of wartime difficulties and lack of some photographic materials, the Society continued to hold its meetings to which servicemen stationed in the Isle of Man were made most welcome. In 1945 the Society became affiliated to the Lancashire and Cheshire Photographic Union, as it is to this day.

Over the years, the Society has held many exhibitions of exhibits produced by the membership

From its inception, the Society has always been interested in any new developments in the field of photography. The arrival of the digital photography age and rapidly improving mobile telephone photography are the latest examples which have been embraced by its members. However, whilst few members now have their own ‘darkrooms’, high quality prints and excellent projected images are still the order of the day. Some things, though, never change, such as the warm welcome that always awaits any new members who wish to share this amazingly versatile hobby.

By Antony Hamilton