Conwy Camera Club Archives

Around 40 members met virtually, from the comfort of their own homes, on a cold Thursday evening on 21st January 2021 to hear our speaker, Mr Rhodri Clark, give a presentation via Zoom.

Our Chair Kevin Slattery introduced our speaker for our first ever Zoom meeting and thanked Committee member Trefor Price for setting up the Zoom facility which enabled members to access the meeting.

Conwy Camera Club was set up in 1945 and celebrates its 75th anniversary this year so it was an apt time to hear Rhodri Clark’s presentation using photographs from the archives.

Rhodri joined Conwy Camera Club in 1997 and in 1999 he instigated a monthly display of photos by club members in a disused shop in Conwy High Street. This brought the club to much wider attention and drew in new members, guaranteeing the club’s survival. To celebrate the club’s 60th anniversary in 2005, he organised the creation of an archive of photos by past and present club members. He became an honorary life member of the club in 2010. Last year he was awarded the Honours of the North Wales Photographic Association for exceptional service in photography in North Wales.

In 2012, Rhodri and fellow camera club member Eugene Stevenson launched HistoryPoints, an initiative which uses mobile phone technology to present local history to the public at hundreds of places of interest in Wales.

The speaker began his presentation by telling us that the impetus in starting the club was due to civil servants who were evacuated from London to Colwyn Bay during the Second World War and started taking and saving photos of the local area. This led to the formation of the club in 1945. We were shown photos of club members during the 1950s and 1960s and their photos from that period which included kestrels in Conwy Castle, photos of Ysgol Maelgwyn and a street market/fair in Conwy.

Rhodri introduced us to many of the contributors to the archives including Emrys Jones, Gwyn Roberts, Harry Rogers Jones and Walter Harris. We were shown photos by these contributors including the visit of HMS Royal Oak to Llandudno in 1938, the Thetis beached at Red Wharf Bay in 1939, the Honey Fair and the mussel purification tanks in the late 1950s.

Many photos relating to the building of the A55 were shown and I was interested to note that the casting basin for sections of the tunnel were developed into what is now Conwy marina.

The speaker then focussed on the Conwy estuary with many photos beginning in the 1950s and he gave us a journey from Deganwy, through Llandudno Junction to the Cob, on to the suspension bridge and then to Conwy Quay. We saw photos of the old Fyffes banana warehouse (now Collinge antiques), the opening of the new Conwy bridge in 1958 and Conwy quay with boats decked out to celebrate the coronation of King George 6th in 1937.

The photos of activity on the quay made us realise the importance of Conwy as a fishing port during the earlier part of the 20th century, its subsequent decline, and the development of tourism in the area. I found a photo of a decaying abandoned fishing boat, circa 1994, a particularly poignant reminder of the nature of economic and social change.

Rhodri advised us that if we know something is going to change then it would be a good idea to take photos and archive them on a computer: this will provide a useful record. He gave us some examples of this including photos of the recharging of Colwyn Bay beach in 2013, the demolition of Colwyn Bay pier and the Great Orme goats in Llandudno during the lockdown of spring 2020

We were all grateful for the opportunity to examine the recent history of this area through the lens of such talented photographers. The audience were very appreciative of the opportunity to hear such a knowledgeable and informative speaker and the meeting closed with our Secretary Vicky Macdonald thanking him on our behalf.

-Diane Williams

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