About Us

Ashford (Middlesex) Camera Club is a small, friendly club whose aim is the enjoyment of photography.

Membership is at all levels, from beginners to advanced, and includes both silver halide and digital photographers – although most of the club’s members now produce images digitally.

Next meetings

Tuesday 19 December
Members' digital images
Tuesday 2 January
Members' pictures - up to six PDIs or prints with commentary

History of Ashford (Middlesex) Camera Club

There was apparently a Camera Club in Ashford before the last war, run by Mr Westlake, the local chemist. This ceased to function during the war years owing to war-time shortages and other factors.

Geoff Gould, having spent three years as Secretary of the Lewisham Camera Club, with a membership of about 80, was surprised to find that there was no local club, and decided to start one. The only assistance in this was a short printed document from The Amateur Photographer, but the real guiding principle was that there was never enough time for members to chat together about their hobby, and therefore the motto should be “the enjoyment of Photography as a hobby” in which the present club seems to have been singularly successful. In fact, at least two other clubs were started up in Whitton and Shepperton, based on the friendly and lively atmosphere at the Ashford Club.

Starting the Club, in 1957, was achieved by putting a postcard in Listers, the local newsagents (now Martins), announcing that anyone interested in forming a club should meet in the saloon bar of the local pub, and as two other people turned up, it was decided to go ahead with the venture! As a member of the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA), who at that time had good premises in Ashford, near Fir Tree Parade, we managed to rent a large room cheaply, and the fortnightly meetings commenced. By this time, we had amongst our members Ben Urwin, Timber Wood, Dusty Coleman and several others, with a total membership of about 20. All went well until the local RAFA was disbanded, when we arranged to meet in the first floor restaurant of the cinema opposite. This was very convenient, and much enjoyed except for a pre-view of the following day’s menu in the adjoining kitchens – and we had many months of good meetings until the local authority decided that we were blocking the fire exit – and out we went!!

We then moved to a large wooden hut behind the Wheatsheaf pub in Stanwell – in the winter we froze and in the summer we cooked, but we carried on! About this time, very strong representations were made to us by the Ashford Community Association that we should join in with them, but this was resisted for as long as possible with a gut feeling that this would not be good for the club. Eventually, however, we decided to “give it a bash” and moved into the ramshackle premises in Chesterfield Road, Ashford where we had good storage facilities in the adjoining air-raid shelter, and where we were most comfortably esconced for a considerable time. When the Community Association moved to their new premises in Woodthorpe Road we reluctantly followed, but it was soon apparent that we were not really welcome, as none of us played darts or drank vast quantities of beer! At the Community Association’s committee meetings, it was most annoying when we were referred to as “the camera section” when we had been promised automony and that we should retain our separate identity.

Having discovered an (unfinished) Scout hut in the Laleham Road, we did a late night flit with all our gear (hindered by the door falling off the VW van at the outset!) and spent the following few winter weeks in acute discomfort before learning that the British Legion had taken over the Chesterfield Road premises formerly occupied by the Community Association. We were happy to move back to Chesterfield Road, with a tenure of 3 months either way – which was fine until the Legion opened a bar when, you’ve guessed it – they no doubt felt we weren’t drinking enough beer, so we were asked to leave.

We then moved to a smallish room upstairs at the North Star pub in Staines, where some of us did drink beer, but the premises weren’t large enough, so we moved yet again to the small hall at St. Peter’s, Laleham Road, Staines, where Brownies had to be evicted and puddles mopped up sometimes – before we could start meetings, which were then subject to Church Bell practice and the screams of the aerobic ladies! The rent at St Peter’s Staines increased each year with frightening regularity, and it soon became clear that if we stayed there, the Club would have to close down by the end of 1986.

We were then very fortunate in finding out that the Reedsfield Hall, run on a non-profit making basis by the residents of the road, could accommodate us on the required Tuesdays at a more reasonable rent, and that we would be left to conduct our meetings in peace, also that there was limited storage available to us, especially where the 9 foot rolls of background paper were concerned. Our acceptance into this excellent venue may or may not have been influenced by the fact that the secretary knew personally both the R.R.R.A. President and Founder, Dr Emily Hill, and also Percy Potts, who was largely responsible for building the hall, the former now unfortunately deceased and the latter retired to East Anglia. Be that as it may, we have been very happy indeed to hold our meetings at the Reedsfield Hall for some years, and hope we shall continue to have this ideal facility available to us for many years to come. It should be said that one of our members has spent some considerable time redecorating the stage area which had not been cleaned or painted for many years – on the basis that one good turn deserves another!

Geoffrey Gould