History of Bradford Photographic Society

Articles on the history of Bradford Photographic Society

This is a list of past presidents of the Bradford Photographic Society, as originally compiled by Colin Sutton (deceased), and later added to. The apparent gaps in service are due to insufficient records being kept.

1860-61 John Vennimore Godwin
1861-62 Robert Parkinson, PhD

1898-99 Alexander Keighley
1899-?  Percy Lund

1915-16 William H. Hammond
1916-18 Fredrick Toulson
1918-20 Charles Edward Lawson
1920-22 J.H. Hudson
1922-23 Leonard Moore
1923-24 Bernal Riley
1924-26 G.T. Illingworth
1926-27 Alfred Greenwood
1927-28 Charles Edward Lawson
1928-30 Arthur Marshall ARPS
1930-31 Edgar Rawnsley, ARPS
1931-33 Alfred Greenwood, ARPS
1933-35 E. Bottomley, LDS, RCS
1935-36 George Halford, ARCA
1936-38 M. Bentley, ARPS
1938-40 E.B. Johnson
1940-42 John F. Mather, ARPS
1942-44 Norman A. Scurrah, ARPS
1944-46 Harold Mitchell
1946-48 H. Montague Storey, ARPS
1948-50 Councillor Fredrick Patrick
1950-52 G. Eric Sunderland, ARPS
1952-54 Vernon B. Lloyd
1954-56 L.B. Cummings
1956-58 A.R. Alderson
1958-60 Norman Stow, ARPS
1960-62 Donald H. Halliday
1962-64 John W. Murray
1964-66 Eddie Whitaker
1966-68 A. Cyril Walker
1968-70 John H.B Radford, MM, ARPS
1970-72 Charles V. Mitchell
1972-73 Lewis Braybrook
1973-74 Jack Hanson
1974-75 Leonard Dinsdale
1975-76 Kathleen Overend
1976-77 Leslie S. Foulger
1977-78 Clement Burlison
1978-79 D. Allan Walker
1979-80 Douglas Longbottom
1980-81 Stanley Barker
1981-82 Arthur E. Hardiman, JP, LCP
1982-83 Ralph B. Turner
1983-84 Geoffrey Speight
1984-85 Tom Scatchard
1985-86 Geoff Richards
1986-88 Ken Wilson
1988-90 Don Crabtree, LRPS
1990-91 Graeme Mitchell
1991-92 Ken Austin
1992-94 Dorothy Smith
1994-95 Ken Russell
1995-97 Graeme Mitchell
1997-99 Wendy Richards
1999-2001 John Smithson
2001-04 Colin Sutton
2004-06 Kenneth Taylor
2006-09 Graeme Mitchell
2009-12 Paul Richards
2012-14 Kath Bonson
2014-16 Tom Heggie
2016-18 Rais Hasan CPAGB LRPS LDPS
2018-     Peter Sykes

[Reproduced from the booklet produced to mark our centenary in 1960]


projector apparatusAlthough photography was first practised in 1839, the early processes (Daguerreotype and Calotype) were for various reasons so restricted in scope that amateur photography was very rare. But the invention of the "wet collodion" process (Scott-Archer, March 1851) increased enormously the field of work and soon text books and periodicals appeared and photographic societies formed. At the formation of our Society there were thirty-two other societies in existence throughout the world. Twenty of these were British but it appears that very few have continued without a break, these include Leeds (1852), London-now the Royal Photographic Society (1853) and Manchester (1855).

"Wet-collodion" had its merits-so great that it has only recently been superseded in the sphere of process-engraving. It gave negatives of excellent quality, prints were made-by daylight-on "albumen paper" which in handling and appearance resembled the "P O P" which all old photographers remember. Many examples have survived, some are shown in the exhibition. But there were great disadvantages, too. The photographer had to make his own plates. He coated glass with collodion (a solution of gun-cotton in alcohol and ether) containing soluble bromides and iodides. After evaporation of the solvent the plate could be stored. Just before use it was soaked in silver nitrate solution, exposed wet, and developed at once. If it dried out or the silver nitrate crystallized, the plate was ruined. This meant that for outdoor work it was necessary to carry, as well as the camera, a portable dark room or tent and all necessary chemical solutions. As enlarging was impracticable the plate had to be as large as the final print-in Bradford 10 x 8 inches was the popular size. For this the total weight to carry for a day's work would be fully 50 Ibs. It was essential to get a friend to help with the load-the lure was the promise to teach him photography and to give him prints. It is not surprising that a member in January 1861 thought landscape work "too laborious to be entirely pleasurable".

There was constant endeavour to reduce the load-mostly by adding deliquescent substances to keep the plate moist. Zinc chloride, sugar, treacle, beer, and scores of other substances were seriously advocated.

Much better were the complicated tannin and albumen treatments which made the so-called "dry" plates figuring in the first year's syllabus but which had only one-sixth of the speed of the wet plate. Another popular way was to use the smaller stereoscopic camera taking 6½ x 3¼ inch plates. It seems that away from home most of the first members used these cameras and "dry" plates thereby reducing the load to 14 lbs or so. If however work was within two or three minutes of their own or a friend's dark-room a larger camera with large wet plates could be used.

Cameras were rather clumsy versions of the present "stand camera". A firm stand was required on every occasion, shutters were unknown and although the wet plate was ten times as fast as earlier processes, exposures were rarely, if ever, less than half a minute-thus a lens cap moved by hand was quite adequate for exposing. The "dark tent" for developing was light enough to work in for it had a large window of yellow fabric. The "changing bag" for loading "dry" plates could safely be made entirely of this fabric.

[Reproduced from a booklet produced for the Centenary of the Society in 1960]

The First Year's Syllabus

Ordinary Meetings held at 8 pm in St George's Hall on the first Wednesday of each month.

President; J V GODWIN
Secretary; JOSEPH BELDON, 7 Albert Terrace, Manningham Lane
Treasurer; S H STANLEY


7 November; Inaugural meeting. Election of Officers.
5 December; Paper-"The Waxed Paper Process" Mr W H Leather.


2 January; Paper -"A Photographic Retrospect", Charles Butterfield.
6 February; Paper by Mr Stanley (postponed). Display and discussion of members' prints.
6 March; Paper by Mr Stanley.
3 April; Report by Sub-Committee on the Test of a Lens. Display and discussion of prints.
1 May; Paper -"The Fothergill Process". Mr J Beldon.
5 June; Auction sale of the lens. General discussion, mainly on the Tannin Process:
? June; Outing-to Crag Vale.
3 July; Paper and Demonstration-"The Tannin Process". Dr Parkinson (who was in the chair).
7 August; Comments on the Tannin Process, and a Display of Failures, by Mr Nichols.
4 September; Paper-'The Gum and Borax Process of the Rev Lawson Sisson". Mr Abbey.
3 October; Paper -"On the Choice of a Dry Process". George Shad bolt.
5 November; Annual meeting. Display of Prints by Mr. Mudd of Manchester, and criticism by members.

This article is reproduced from a booklet produced in 1960 to celebrate the centenary of the BPS


Old plate camera illustrationWe can find no public announcement of the intention to form a society in Bradford. It seems as if a number of enthusiasts already in contact with one another decided to form themselves into a society. This intention was implemented on the 7th November 1860 at a meeting arranged informally, but it was not until after that the local and photographic Press received any information.

The majority of members had no wish for publicity and only the first two meetings were reported to the Bradford Observer. In December 1861 they decided to send no further reports to the Press. There is no evidence that they wished to recruit outsiders and the only recorded additions in the first year are two men admitted in February 1861. The printed “Library list" probably shows the names of all the members. Seventeen of these names appear in the published records. We should know very little of their proceedings had it not been for the lucky chance that one member sent unofficial reports of meetings to the British Journal of Photography. These reports were fortunately in great detail, presenting a clear picture of the Society and its working. It is interesting to go through their first year's programme which reveals a striking resemblance to our activities today.