Photographic Gems from the Past – Annual Dinner and Presentation Evening 1957

by Joe Grabham EFIAP/silver

The Society’s Annual Dinner and Presentation Evening, which took place last Friday at Bowburn Hall, was the latest in an unbroken series of such events which stretches back over sixty years. Right from the early days of the Society (and no doubt owing to the diligence of the club’s Press and Publicity Officers) reports of these nights’ proceedings would usually appear the following week in the Durham Advertiser. This turned out to be of great use to me a couple of years ago, when I was trying to fill in some of the gaps in our list of trophy winners. I spent many a happy hour on the microfilm readers in Clayport Library, trawling through the Advertiser archive and skimming past accounts of leek shows, local football matches and court reports in the hope of finding a mention of the Photographic Society’s ‘Big Night’. With a little patience, there was always something there to be found – one year there might be just a couple of paragraphs, while at other times there were quite detailed descriptions of who was there and what was said. Very occasionally there would be a photograph or two to accompany the article and I found the discovery of these to be real “hairs on the back of the neck” stuff.

Of the small number of pictures that did appear, two stood out in particular; those featured in the Advertiser of May 3rd 1957, when Daisy Edis FRPS was making the presentations. Unfortunately, the microfilm versions were of very poor quality. I later sent a not overly-hopeful email to the Advertiser, asking if the original negatives were still anywhere to be found, but the reply, as I had half expected, said that everything like that was long gone.

Fast-forward to December last year and a chance conversation with Julian Harrop at the end of a club meeting. While telling me about Beamish Museum’s plans to recreate the Edis Photographic Studio, Julian mentioned that many of the old negatives from the Advertiser were housed in the Museum’s Peoples Collection! The next day he did a search of the index and came up with the 1957 images.

The Beamish copies were a vast improvement on what I had seen before and some familiar faces became recognisable. There were others I did not know by sight, but some of these could be identified by the trophies they were holding. Then Don Bennett and Charles Eagles (who was in the club at that time, although not on the photographs) helped out with a few more names, so that all the trophy winners from that night in 1957, plus a good few of the other members, have been identified.

For me, the most rewarding aspect of these rediscovered pictures has been to see the old members in a new light. People like Harry Holder, Des Kelly, Ted Mansell and Tom Peel, all of whom I had known in their twilight years, are shown here as young men, clearly bursting with enthusiasm for their hobby. Then there are those I did not know, but had heard of – Alan Wiper, often spoken of by Robin Wallace as an excellent printer; Ruth Shotton, our first female President; Cyril Stidwell who gave the club a trophy still in use today; Reg Brown, who performed the job of projectionist for years before Bill Bestford took over in the role; and the Guest of Honour Daisy Edis, an Hon Life Member who was hugely influential in the early years of the Society.

Remarkable images of some of our best photographers from years past – people who deserve not to be forgotten.

Joe Grabham

Durham Advertiser Photographs Durham PS Annual dinner 1957

Courtesy of Beamish Museum Peoples Collection

Picture 1


Picture 1 – Harry Holder receiving the Valente Cup (Best Print of the Year) from Guest of Honour Miss Daisy Edis. Also in the photograph – Alan Wiper, far left, winner of the Lambert Hedley Cup for Portraiture and the Colour Trophy for best set of colour slides (this was the first time the Colour Trophy had been presented). Third from the left is John Wilson. To the right of Miss Edis; Tom Peel, winner of the Stidwell Cup (Intermediate Prints); Mr. P. Kirtley, winner of the Buss Shield for Beginners’ Prints; Ruth Shotton, President. The trophy on the table is the Harvey Adams Cup, which was won by Harry Holder.

Picture 2 numbered

Picture 2 – Key:

  1. Mr. Percy, 2. John Wilson 3. Mrs. Peel, 4. Harry Holder, 5. Cyril Stidwell, 6. Alan Wiper, 7. Des Kelly, 8. Audrey Kelly, 9. Reg Brown, 10. P. Kirtley, 11. Ted Mansell, 12. Tom Peel, 13. Daisy Edis, 14. Ruth Shotton (President)

Picture 2 (3 May 1957) not numbered


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