Anniversary exhibition offers rare visual history of Cambridge

This image of the Cambridge pool was taken in 1971.

A 60th anniversary exhibition organised by the Cambridge Camera Club and called “Moments in Time – Snapshots of Day Gone By” promises a tantalising peek into the town’s past.

Celebrations marking the club’s 60th anniversary will be in several parts.

The public exhibition will be at the Cambridge Library from Monday to Friday, July 24 to 28, with free entry to all.  A special anniversary evening is planned for the Tuesday night (July 25), when from 7pm the Cambridge Historical Society’s Jenny Gainsford will give a talk at the library, much of it centred on the historical stories associated with the photographic exhibits.

The Cambridge Museum will display its collection of old cameras throughout the same week.

The final part of the celebrations will be a day-long exhibition restricted to club members past and present.  That segment will feature guest speakers and slide shows, and will be held at Resthaven’s community centre on Saturday, July 29.  Much of it will include the material displayed at the library throughout the week.

This shot shows a Robertson Air Service Tiger Moth being loaded for its first top-dressing run.

Cambridge Camera Club president Eric Hill said the 60th anniversary initiative was one that involved the public, club members, Cambridge’s library and museum, and the Cambridge Historical Society.

“We decided that rather than turning the focus on the Camera Club itself, we would focus on 60 years of Cambridge’s visual history. It will end up being a wonderful photographic record of Cambridge over the years.”

Eric said the public had handed in cameras and had helped unearth well over 100 images of Cambridge, some of them dating back to the 1870s.

The search for images started with the publication of an old black and white photograph in the Cambridge News of May 19, accompanied by a call for readers to help identify those featured in the picture.

Taken on January 2, 1922, this picture is of a train vs Model T Ford crash in the heart of Cambridge.

“That was a great success; we identified about half of those in the photograph,” Eric said. “We put out a call to the public, asking them to come forward with both old photographs and old cameras for the exhibition. The response has been brilliant.

“So many old photographs have come to light from many different sources.  We even had some from a man in Thames whose family used to live here. It’s been a fascinating journey; that material will be on show at the library during the week of the exhibition.”

Among the images going on display is one dated January 2, 1922, showing a crash in central Cambridge involving a train and a Model T Ford. A series of others taken around 1949/1950 captures the loading of material into a Tiger Moth for the first aerial top dressing application by Robertson Air Service. The airstrip just out of town is still in use by top dressers today.

Another image showing the Cambridge pool in 1971 has particular relevance as the town gears up for a new aquatic centre on the same site.

Eric said many of the images on the exhibition would never have been seen by the public before as they had been sourced from private individuals.

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