Highampton Local History Group



Bob introduced Rupert Stockwin who gave a fascinating talk on the history of photography.

Rupert explained how the first pinhole boxes were created and first used to create a photo in 1826, evolving over the years to creating the first negatives in 1835 by William Fox Talbot. Further developments were made and by 1839 John Herselle developed the technique to fix the image.  Developments continued in the following years:- 1856 – Colour arrived; 1895 – the first X-ray; 1890 – the first Kodak camera; 1902 – the Box Brownie arrived at the cost of $2!

Roll films arrived in 1938 and continuous development has continued to the present day with digital cameras and phone cameras.

A very interesting, informative and enjoyable talk.

Copyright © site designed by the late Simon Ward and managed by his wife Carole


Our speaker was the Rev Paul Fitzpatrick, who gave a very interesting and personal talk about his life in the Royal Navy, which preceded his ordination into the Church of England.

He joined the Royal Navy in 1976 as a Junior Medical Assistant (a position slightly senior to a nurse) at a time when there were only males in that role. Aged 21, he was keen to join the Navy and go to sea. As there were no vacancies on board surface ships, he volunteered for submarine service – which would commonly involve a period of 3 months underwater.

His initial training was at HMS Dolphin in Gosport and this included training in the special underwater tank and a requirement to pass the escape test, involving the passing of breathing apparatus underwater from person to person and a procedure for plugging into the side of the tank when the water started to flow, then to surface from the bottom – an uncomfortable procedure.

Paul described some of his experiences on the hunter Killer submarines, with shifts of 6 hours on and 6 hours off when on duty. He also described his time on board other high-towered submarines and some of his exciting experiences, including a period on the surface during a storm. In 1982, he was involved in operations in the Falklands during the conflict and an unfortunate incident when his submarine went aground, and, on surfacing, the controls were not working properly so they needed to dive again. A month later, Paul’s father was taken ill, and Paul was landed on Falkland Island itself and seconded to the Irish Guards, helicoptered to Port Stanley and then passed on to the Scots Guards. After the death of his father, he joined another sub.

By this time, he had completed 10 years’ service and retrained on a surface vessel and returned to the Southern Hemisphere and to the Falklands. For the first time, he noticed the beauty of the area. His adventures continued, although marred by the sad death of a colleague, and he was transferred to a small, deserted island to study the wildlife. He described a particular starry night when he spent the whole night outside and saw a variety of different birds and animals. As dawn approached, he had an epiphany moment.

1992 marked another phase in the naval career, with patrolling duties in the Caribbean and involvement with Haiti and the Tonton Macoute. This was followed by further training in Belize, including some elements of Royal Marines training, followed by some patrol duties.

Paul paid tribute to his thorough Royal Navy training and background. His father was Irish, but he was born in London and moved often within the UK. He told us that his first curacy in the Church of England was in Okehampton, and he has an affinity with this area.