The earliest accounts of the activities of the Wanganui Camera Club were recorded in the Wanganui Chronicle where it gave notice of the `newly formed Camera Club meeting on 26 July 1894,at 7.30 pm in the New Zealand Insurance Company buildings.' On 8 November 1899 the Chronicle stated that `members of the Wanganui Camera Club were meeting at 8 pm in the Museum'. The club dissolved and was reformed several times due to the intervention of the two World Wars.
The present club was formed in 1949with twelve members and it has continued to meet regularly. It was a very active club and was responsible for the forming of several other clubs on the west coast. The first meetings were held upstairs above Gemmell's shoe store in Victoria Avenue. Later venues included the Weigh Bridge at the wharf, photographer Frank Denton's Studio upstairs in the Metcalfe Building, the Children's Garden Circle in Bell Street, above Hallensteins on the corner of Ridgway and Victoria Avenue and in Cook's Gardens where in 1965, with a peak membership of over 100, it built its own clubrooms which it shared with the Chess Club.
Although a regional club, it was recognised and well-regarded nationally. Some of its members became the Foundation Members of, gained photographic honours and held top positions in, the Photographic Society of New Zealand which was formed in 1952.
One of the club's and PSNZ's earlier presidents, Dr Bob Anderson Hon PSNZ, in 1967 co-authored the publication Camera in New Zealand,which provided a look at amateur photography in New Zealand. In recent years members Yvonne Cave FPSNZ Hon FPSNZ ARPS and Arthur Bates APSNZ Hon FPSNZ ARPS have published books where photography plays a major part. Over the years members have gained recognition nationally and internationally for their images and continue to do so.
The Wanganui Salon, a selected exhibition of photographs, was first held in 1956 and exhibited each year in the SarjeantArtGallery. It gained national recognition and the annual Wanganui Salon Convention held on the first weekend in October was attended by photographers from all over New Zealand. After the 35 th Salon in 1992 it became a smaller Festival of Photography open to photographers in the Whanganui Region and is exhibited in the Community Arts Centre, Taupo Quay.
In 1994 when CooksGardens sports ground was required for the city's new velodrome, the Wanganui District Council bought the clubrooms. The club moved, for the February 1995 meeting, to its present meeting venue, in the Christ Church Lounge, Wicksteed Street.
Over the years club members have worked on several projects which reflect and record the history of Wanganui.These projects are housed in the WhanganuiRegionalMuseum and include:
1984 Residential Buildingssound-slide
1984 Commercial Buildingssound-slide
1988 Wanganui 24 Hoursprints and slides
Street by Street Central CityPt 1: Monochrome images Pt 2: Mounted colour images of commercial buildings built in the previous 12 months.
2000 Family Life in Wanganui in the late 1900s, a turn of the millennium exhibition of 70 scanned photographs with text