Cyril Peckham was a successful and well-known commercial artist and poster designer specialising in aviation subjects during the 1920s and 1930s. He had an active interest in photography and achieved the Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society. During the second world war he moved from illustrator to photographer and joined the General Aircraft Company and later the Hawker company. He was active in aerial photography and drew up a list of ten faults with current cameras which led him to design his own.
'When the man who does the job designs the tool for doing it, the result should be something approaching the attainable ideal - from the functional aspect at least'. With this statement the BJPA reviewed the Peckham-Wray camera designed by Cyril Peckham who at the time was Chief Photographer to the Hawker Siddeley group of aircraft companies. The camera was originally designed for air-to-air photography and and was later developed as a press and general purpose camera.
British patent number 728741 was applied for in 1951 and the full specification was filed in November 1952. The specification for the camera addressed those faults that Peckham had identified including light traps, comfortable grip and fingertip controls. After some twelve months use Peckham showed the camera to the Chief of the Admiralty photographic section, Mr F. Wright, who initiated the first production run of fifty cameras from the Wray Optical Works in Bromley. The prototype camera at the RAF Museum in Hendon follows the patent specification closely but the transition from prototype to production negated some of the improvements Peckham had intended.
The prototype achieved most of Peckham's goals, bulk apart it was convenient to hold, the rear shutter release was in an ideal position and the focusing scale and aperture markings easy to use. A gloved operator would have no difficulty and it would seem to have been a first class air-to-air camera. If offered exclusively for this purpose fitted with a 5 x 4 Graphic-pattern back, as some of the production models were, it would have achieved greater success outside of Government circles, in fact the number sold to private users were negligible and it certainly stood no chance of being accepted in the Speed Graphic dominated Fleet Street as a press camera.