This year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the foundation of Woodbridge Art Club. The Club was formed because local education classes were under threat. John Roberts was teaching such classes, and suggested that his students got together as a group to paint. Initially 40 members met in the assembly rooms above the ball room of the Crown Hotel. For the first few years, the exhibitions had to be held hung on the station railings, except in bad weather. They were held on August weekends and were very popular. Three of the original members, Lilian Lloyd, Jean Millbank and Roger Newson are still alive.
The Club's present premises are owed to Mrs Jean Gardner who bought the tide mill and surrounding buildings at auction and in 1973 offered the single story attachment to the Club on a 28 year lease at a peppercorn rent. The work to restore the building was done by members and friends. Alfred Leech and John Lloyd were the main stay of the renovation of the granary, both being in the building trade. A small grant was obtained from the UDC but most of the materials needed were bought with the proceeds of the Club's fundraising efforts. The new premises were opened by Mrs Gardner in 1976. It is now owned by the council and leased to the Club. That is how Woodbridge Art Club came to be one of the few art clubs to have their own premises (and in such a marvellous position).
The club is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an outdoor exhibition on the weekend of August 11th and 12th. We are aiming to recreate, as much as possible, our very first exhibition in August 1968 which was hung on the station railings at the Town Quay. Alas those railings no longer exist but we have obtained others, courtesy of the environment agency, and they will be erected in Whisstocks square, outside the Long Shed, and hung with members' paintings. The Camera Club are having an exhibition at the same time inside the Long Shed and our normal exhibition will be on in the club gallery as usual. So there will be lots to see around Tide Mill Way that weekend.
We are producing a book about the club's history, with lots of photos, and hope it will be available that weekend.