Photographic Society has been in existence since the mid 1920s,
but it wasn’t until the 1970s that the society came
into prominence. The very successful 1st Smethwick International
Exhibition of Photography in 1974 promoted SPS around the
world as extremely good organisers of a prestigious International.
a result membership grew fast, to a point where it could no
longer be accommodated in our rented room at the back of St.
Mary's Church in Bearwood. The Society set up a "Future
Facilities Fund" whilst we looked for larger accommodation.
The Fund was given a boost when the club won the first two
Slide Championships organised by the Photographic Alliance
of Great Britain, each of which carried a sizeable cash prize.
1981 SPS took on the lease of a derelict wooden building in
Coopers Lane, Smethwick, and, using the ‘Future Facilities
Fund’ money, coupled with a great deal of work from
the members, restored it into a purpose-built clubhouse with
lecture room, kitchen, studio and licensed bar.
The Society and its International Exhibition enjoyed great
success in the 1980s and 90s, until a fateful day in July
1998, when the roof of our ageing structure caved in. The
building was irreparable and the club was forced to meet in
local pubs whilst searching for suitable new premises.
Within 12 months a disused 100-year-old primary school building
was found. It would be ideal for our new headquarters, but
the cost of purchase and restoration was daunting. However,
a number of members decided to invest in the purchase of the
building and the Society would purchase shares. The goodwill
from friends of the Society throughout Britain was astounding
and donations came flooding in.
The roof leaked, the walls were sopping wet, paint peeled off
everywhere, toilets were broken and the floors were covered
in junk. Planning permission also had to be obtained for the
building’s new use. There were only a few months to the
next exhibition. However, inspired leadership would not be put
off. Old walls came down, new ones went up, electrics and plumbing
were replaced, most of the work being carried out by the members
The vision of the few and the sweat of the many brought the
project in on time for the opening of the 25th Smethwick International
Exhibition of Photography in January 2000.