PECC History

The Port Elizabeth Camera Club is the second oldest existing Camera Club in the country, after Cape Town, and goes back to 27 July 1891, when a group of enthusiasts gathered to form the Port Elizabeth Amateur Photographic Society.

A report on that first meeting, printed in the Herald Newspaper of 31 July, stated that the enthusiasts “resolved to establish a Camera Club and Society, to enable amateur photographers (of whom there are a considerable number in this Town) to have a good studio and to provide conveniences for the study and practice of the science of photography”, and the “subscription has been fixed at ten shillings and six pence per annum”, and that, “a special feature of the Society is that Ladies as well as Gentlemen may become members”.

The Photographic Society survives today as the Port Elizabeth Camera Club (a title assumed in 1934).  Everyone is still welcome – including ladies!

Initially the Society met in private homes, but within a few years, an attempt was made to establish an Athenaeum. (Athenaeum: an ancient institution of learning.   The Greek goddess of wisdom resided in the Temple of Athena. The name and concept is often adopted by literary and scientific societies). An Athenaeum had existed many years earlier as an integral part of the Port Elizabeth Town Hall (which had been built by the City Council of the time on Crown lands, for the express purpose of housing Municipal offices, a Public library and an Athenaeum – the last for the use by scientific and art societies of the rapidly growing town).  However, the space allotted to the Athenaeum had gradually been encroached upon, mainly by the expanding Library, and eventually ceased to exist.

As  a  result  of  action  by  the  Photographic  Society,  the  City  Council  was pressured to re-establish an Athenaeum, and offered to erect a new building on the hill.  This was subsequently done in 1896, and an agreement was reached with the City Fathers whereby the Photographic Society paid towards the construction and in return would be allowed to use the premises rent/rate free in perpetuity.

The club has since moved its home for monthly meetings to the Walmer Library but as a permanent member of the Athenaeum is entitled to use the facilities, as well as those of the City Hall.

In the 60’s a group of PECC members, spearheaded by the late Barrie Wilkins, attended the PSSA Annual Congress and they decided that they should all wear some identifying object and it was agreed that a black knitted beanie with a large white pom-pom would fit the bill.  These became very popular and a tradition was started where the PECC beanies were always worn for the Congress Photo and at the Honours Banquet.  On Barrie's passing it was decided to retire the Beanie.

Our club badge depicts the lens of a camera with a ship above it - the ship being the Chapman, the first 1820 settler ship to arrive in Algoa Bay.