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Where we have been, and where we are now
The Society’s first permanent home was 66 Russell Square in central London, the first of a series of leasehold properties. In 1909 the Society moved to 35 Russell Square and then to 16 Prince's Gate, overlooking Hyde Park. However a ruling by the local authority that the building should be converted to residential use made it necessary to sell the lease and move to 14 South Audley Street and then briefly to 1 Maddox Street. It became clear that the Society could no longer afford to live in London and it was decided to move elsewhere to set up a National Centre of Photography.
Many locations were considered, but it was eventually decided to move to Bath because of its status as a tourist centre. An appeal was launched and some four hundred thousand pounds was raised. A lease was purchased from the Bath City Council on the Octagon, a former chapel with photographic connections since John Herschel’s father William was the organist there. It was opened by Princess Margaret in April 1981. In 1983 the Treasurer announced an appreciable operating surplus, but ultimately, hopes for a prosperous existence in the Octagon were thwarted, mainly by onerous terms in the lease, so the necessity for another move became apparent.
The transfer of the Society's collection to the nation enabled the Society to look for a permanent base. Following the outcome of a detailed feasibility study, and an aborted move to Devizes, suitable freehold premises were found in Bath. In June 2004 122 Wells Road was purchased and the opening of the new home, now called Fenton House, was held on 16 February 2005. The premises offer a based for headquarters staff, a lecture theatre used for workshops and public activities, and a small gallery space.