Our history

Hopefully our History Is not what first encouraged you to find us online, but its definitely worth a read!

Today, we are a thriving group, with a rich and diverse membership supporting photographers at all levels and interests. Historically, our origins go back to the late 1800’s and we are fortunate to hold a unique place in the history and development of photography as we know it today. Indeed the contribution of two of our founder members continues to be recognised by no less than The Royal Photographic Society and their delivery of the ‘Hurter and Driffield Memorial Lectures’, the latest of which was delivered by Dr. Sam Weller at the Royal Philatelic Society
Headquarters in London on 26th January 2016.

Dr. Ferdinand Hurter was a Swiss chemist and a founding member of the Society of Chemical Industry. He was the chief chemist at the Gaskell – Deacon Chemical works in Widnes. Vero Charles Driffield was an engineer born in Prescot, he too was employed at the same chemical works and the two men became lifelong friends. Driffield developed his interest in photography when he was about 17 years of age and, at some point persuaded his friend to take up the hobby. Both men were frustrated by the difficulty in standardising the exposure times of the photographic plates they were using and, after significant research, developed the Hurter and Diffield speed system in 1810. Prior to the adoption of the now familiar ISO ratings and the earlier DIN system, the H&D system was used up until the 1950’s Vero was also the President of what was then the Widnes Photographic Society. Both men are buried close together in Farnworth cemetery.

During the early 1900’s the society arranged various outings for members, their first trip taking them to Llangollen, a very different journey then to how we would travel today. Imagine a group of photography enthusiasts carrying laden equipment bags, tripods, cameras, lenses and notebooks, all on public transport. Even then I guess photographers would be afflicted by the same feeling of equipment envy that many of us know and love today. Things continued in much the same way, but perhaps with lighter equipment until 1970 when the society expanded its membership and joined with Runcorn to become the Widnes and Runcorn Photographic Society, a further name change occurred in 1980 and our very own Halton Photographic Society came into the world. We have, over the years, enjoyed various homes and we welcome you to our current home at Parklands Rugby Club, Prescot Road, Widnes. We are a convivial bunch and will hopefully continue the tradition of innovation, travel and enjoyment of photography so clearly developed by Messer’s Hurter and Driffield all those years ago. We are fortunate in that we can still view and enjoy some of the images taken by these pioneering and inspirational photographers.

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