Reeling in the years: Hornchurch Photographic Society celebrates 80 years

PUBLISHED: 10:00 11 December 2016

Members of the Hornchurch Photographic Society

Members of the Hornchurch Photographic Society


From landscape country shots to back garden snaps, the Hornchurch Photographic Society has been a crucial hub for amateur enthusiasts since 1936. Three of the group’s members share with Niall Joyce what is special about the club to them

Hornchurch Photographic Society setting up in the 1950sHornchurch Photographic Society setting up in the 1950s

Asnap-happy group is celebrating its 80th anniversary – and hopes to provide a space for enthusiastic photographers for decades more to come.

The Hornchurch Photographic Society, established in 1936, held a special event for members at the Ardleigh House Community Association to celebrate the milestone, with some of them having been at the club since the ‘50s.

Steve Lewington, a black cab driver, joined the group a little more than a year ago after developing an interest in photography shortly after his daughter was born.

“Five years ago my wife gave birth to my daughter and I wanted to get a camera, but there’s only so many pictures you can take of a five-year-old,” said Steve. “I started taking pictures of birds in the garden, then started going out and capturing birds of prey.”

Since then, Steve’s passion for photography has only grown stronger and he has become a key part of the society’s make-up, even organising its yearly syllabus.

“We have only got about 25 members, we are relatively small and obviously most get older and are leaving – I’m probably one of the youngest there,” Steve told the Recorder.

“Some are over 80 and some have been there since the 1950s. I think our oldest member has been there since Ardleigh Green amalgamated with us – I’m pretty sure that was a while ago.”

The group holds lectures, outings and competitions throughout the year and recently hosted talented photographers – and father and son – Hugh Milsom and Peter Milsom, who gave a talk at the November meeting to mark the anniversary.

The session impressed Vivien Peters, another member of the society.

“Hugh showed us his landscape photographs and spoke about his passion and inspiration for taking and producing them,” she said.

“Hugh’s son, Peter, had been greatly influenced by his father with the love of photography, but decided that he couldn’t compete with him as a landscape photographer.

“As a result, Peter has become a successful sports and wildlife photographer.”

The chairwoman of the HPS, 54-year-old Jean McGowan, of Romford, developed her interest in photography after she retired and soon found herself among a good bunch of people when she joined the group two years ago.

“I was made redundant from my job after working the same one for 35 years,” said Jean.

“I wanted a hobby and thought I would look into taking pictures and photography.

“It is a nice friendly club. All the members are very helpful, if you don’t understand something with your camera, in the tea break and before we start, you can ask the members.”

If you are interested in joining the HPS or attending a meeting, visit

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