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The Formation of the National Council for Aviculture

A number of Specialist Club delegates, representing all branches of the Fancy, met on Thursday March 8th 1945 at the Waldorf Hotel in London to discuss the formation of a National Association to foster the interests of the Cage Bird Fancy. Mr W Watmough, the famous budgerigar breeder and author of the seminal “Cult of the Budgerigar” took the Chair for this meeting, and Mr E R W Lincoln, Editor of Cage Birds, agreed to be Secretary, assisted by his secretary Miss E W Kirby.

Delegates attending the Inaurgural Meeting:

Mr W Watmough – Budgerigar Society
Mr J Hylton Blythe – British Bird Keepers Association
Mr A A Collier – South Midland BS
Mr P W Beauchamp – National British Softbill Society
Mr W Hinkins – Southern Border Fancy Canary Club
Mr W Dixon – Midland Counties Norwich Plainhead Club
Mr F Derry – Midland Yorkshire Canary Club
Mr W K Cox – Budgerigar Society
Mr G C Lynch – National British Hardbill Assocn.
Mr J Hamblett – West Midland Roller Canary Fanciers
Mr H Garland Wells – Southern Norwich Plainhead Club
Mr R Frayn – Foreign Bird League
Mr H G Golder – Cinnamon Canary Club
Mr W P Inggs – Western Yorkshire Canary Club
Mr W E Berry – Midland Budgerigar and Foreign Bird Assocn.
M W Trotter – Northern Ireland Clubs
Mr A Wilson – Scottish BS
Mr E Brown – Midland B & FBA
Mr W A Fitch – Midland B & FBA
Mr H Hill – Yorkshire Union of CBS’s
Mr C Cockerton – Yorkshire Canary Club
Mr E R W Lincoln – Editor, Cage Birds
Miss E W Kirby – Secretary to Mr Lincoln

Miss Kirby later recalled that during the morning session a flying bomb made a direct hit on Smithfield Market not far away from the hotel! It was agreed to form a National Society, and the name – National Society of Aviculture - was chosen from a short list by ballot of the delegates (this was changed to the National Society for Aviculture in the mid 1980’s).

The aims and targets of the newly formed Council were then discussed, and 6 areas were agreed:

A.     To keep under close scrutiny legislation and parliamentary proposals affecting, or likely to affect, bird-keepers interests.

B.     To counter anti-birdkeeping propaganda, no matter what it’s form.

C.     To secure nation-wide representation of birdkeepers interests.

D.     To accelerate the importation of seed into this country.

E.      To ensure the best possible support in Parliament and local government.

F.      To secure, by contacts and press notices, publicity favourable to the Birdkeeping hobby.

Of these, the importation of seed was the most immediately important because seed supplies had become extremely limited during the war, and many people had been compelled to give up the hobby through this shortage. Estimates of birdkeepers before the war was put at 560,000, and by the end of hostilities in Europe this had shrunk to about 140,000. Interestingly, some senior delegates from the meeting had pre-arranged a meeting on this subject later that day with the Minister of Food, and it was to their advantage to be able to say that they were a National body representing all birdkeepers! A relatively short time later another sub-committee was in discussion with the railway companies concerning the shipment of birds in show cages to and from shows, and their care in the hands of the railway

Naturally the meeting also had to decide what the subscription rates should be, and the proposal was accepted that CBS’s should affiliate at 10/6 (52p), and Specialist Societies at one guinea (1.05). The first President elected was Mr Haddon (probably better known to readers from the Haddon Trophy for Best-in-Show at the old National Exhibition).

Over its 70-year life the NCA has had its ups and downs, but has stayed true to the principles and objectives of that first Council. It has tried to help birdkeepers wherever it can, and at one stage used to hold seminars at the old “National”, with both national and foreign speakers over the 3-day show. It would be difficult to do that with the current one-day event, but the dialogue with Government is just as necessary – and maybe even more important now – as it ever was. And the threats to Birdkeeping never entirely disappear.