The Mornington Peninsula Camera Club had its beginnings in 1962, when a group of friends, all dedicated and keen photographers, began meeting on a regular basis to share their work. After a short period in that year, it was decided to form a Camera Club. A meeting was held, a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer were elected, and a name chosen for the new Club – the name chosen and agreed upon was the RED HILL CAMERA CLUB.
Right from the start, meetings were held at the home of Florrie Littlejohn and her husband and daughter Thelma, on Mornington – Flinders Road, Red Hill (now known as Whitehill Road) The meetings were held in the home’s huge rumpus room, which easily accommodated the number of those attending.
Most unusually, the meeting night chosen was on a Sunday and as time went on, the Club grew in strength and numbers; it had become affiliated with the Victorian Association of Photographic Societies by 1966, and became an officially Incorporated Body under the umbrella of the Department of Justice.
By the end of the 1960’s, the Club had become a well-known and well-established organisation and was known throughout the Camera Club Movement in Victoria for the quality of its work and successes in various Interclub competitions. For many years the Club was heavily involved with the Photography Exhibit at the Red Hill Show, organising the display, taking entries, finding judges, providing Stewards etc. and many people joined the Club over time as a result of this activity. The Club progressed through the 1970’s, 80’s and into the 1990’s, all the while still meeting at the Littlejohn home. In the early part of the 1990’s, Florrie Littlejohn sadly passed away, which left Thelma living in the family home on her own, her father having passed away earlier.
In the late 1990’s, a situation arose which was to ultimately have a serious and damaging effect on the Club. Thelma Littlejohn was a strong member of the Red Hill Church of Christ and was also heavily involved with the Australia-wide governing body of the Church. The Church of Christ hosted a world-wide convention in Sydney and Thelma was going to be away from her home for many mmonths. The President and Committee of the day felt that it would not be right of the Club to expect to go on using Thelma’s home during her rather protracted absence, so it was decided to seek an alternate meeting venue in Red Hill. Finding somewhere proved to be very, very difficult, but in the end, we were able to use the Parish Hall of St George’s Anglican Church in Red Hill. However, this venue was found to be not satisfactory for various reasons, the high cost of renting the hall and difficulties with obtaining the key being two of them, as well as no storage for Club equipment. The Club was then offered the use of the headquarters building of the Red Hill Show Society. To put it mildly, this meeting venue was a total disaster: it was hard to find in the dark, almost no onsite parking, no external lighting, cramped conditions, no heating in winter and no fans or cooling in the summer in a totally un-insulated building. Not surprisingly, membership dropped off to a point where only about 15 or 16 people were turning up to meetings.
It was obvious to the President and Committee that something had to be done to arrest the slide. At the time the Club was getting many enquiries from places like Dromana, Rosebud and Rye, but when people were told that it was in Red Hill and where it was, people decided that it was not for them, but if the Club were to move down to these areas, they would be more than happy to join. A special “crisis” meeting of the Club’s Committee was held just prior to the Club’s Annual General Meeting and it was resolved that a special Notice of Motion be put to the AGM that a) the Club should move down to the coastal Bay area and b) that the name of the Club be altered to RED HILL AND PENINSULA CAMERA CLUB.
When this motion was put to those attending the meeting, it was met with fierce opposition from several of the Club’s founding members, who stated in no uncertain terms that the Club must stay in Red Hill. The reasons for the move and name change were put to the meeting. Much heated argument ensued, and when the vote was taken it was a tied vote. The President of the day, Lin Richards, had the casting vote and voted in favour of the motion which meant that it passed. Several of those who had put up vigorous opposition to the motion immediately got up and stormed out of the meeting, never to be seen at the Club again.
The hunt to find a new meeting venue then began in earnest – several places were looked at in Dromana and Rosebud and rejected for various reasons, mainly due to inadequate or no storage for Club equipment. Eventually the Club was able to find a very good meeting place at the Rosebud Senior Citizens Club. Immediately, the Club gained many new members, growing from a core of just eight after the walk-out at the previous year’s AGM to well over 30.
However, the new venue in Rosebud had a problem in that the Club was forbidden to take food or drink into the meeting room and as such, supper had to be held in the diagonally opposite corner of what was a very large building. However, the Club Committee decided to run with the Rosebud venue whilst alternate accommodation which better suited its needs could be sought. The Club then found that it could rent the Old Shire Office building on Point Nepean Road, Dromana, so it was decided to move there. However, this meeting place had serious deficiencies in that the room’s lighting was dreadful (not good for looking at photos) and it was both very long and narrow.
Then it was found that for the same rent, the adjacent Dromana Community Hall was available. This building was wonderfully spacious, was well lit, and had good heating and excellent secure storage for all the Club’s equipment.
The Club continued meeting in the Community Hall for several years, all the while steadily increasing in membership numbers. The Hall lent itself to photographic workshops and several were held over time in addition to normal Club meetings. As time went on, the Club Committee of the day decided that it would be better if the Club were to move its operations to a more central location on the Peninsula and to change the name of the Club to better reflect where its membership came from. Accordingly, in 2006 it was voted on by a majority of members to move the Club to Mornington and to alter the Club’s name to MORNINGTON PENINSULA CAMERA CLUB, and to alter the meeting night from the first Sunday to the First Thursday.
Initially, the Club met for a period in the meeting room of the Mornington Library, but for some years now has met in the Benton’s Square Community Centre and it has proven to be a most satisfactory venue in more ways than one. The Club has a healthy base membership of some sixty people and its finances are in excellent shape. In addition to the normal 1st Thursday meetings, Member’s Nights and Workshop Meetings are held on a regular basis for the benefit of members. MPCC has gained a formidable reputation for the excellence of its member’s work, especially in Interclub competitions, and judges speak very highly of the Club’s standard of photography, due in no small part to the efforts of the Club’s Committee and membership.
As can be readily seen, the Mornington Peninsula Camera Club has come a very long way since it’s small, humble beginnings in 1962, when it met in a private home to where it is now, a vibrant, healthy Club that has a lot going for it. The Club has seen many changes of one kind or another and even though it almost perished at one stage it has survived and hopefully will continue for a very long time yet.