This article first appeared in the Annual Report of the Birmingham (latterly West Midland) Bird Club for 1954. Bird names/ spellings were used as given.
Silver Jubilee Survey, 1929–1954
1954 was an important year in the Club's history for on December 4th we celebrated our Silver Jubilee. It was on November 1st, 1929, that Mr. W. E. Groves (our Vice-President) invited to his house, Mr. H. G. Alexander (our President), Mr. H. Henry and Mr. C. W. K. Wallis, and at that first meeting it was decided to form a club for comparing notes and observations of bird life. At our Silver Jubilee Conversazione we were delighted to have both Mr. Alexander and Mr. Groves not only with us, but taking a prominent part in the afternoon's affairs.
Not infrequently I have been asked how it all began and I am indebted to Mr. Groves who has supplied a detailed report of the earlier years. After the first meeting at Mr. Groves' house a meeting was held early in 1930 in a small room at the Grand Hotel. It was then decided that meetings should be held at intervals of approximately two months. The procedure adopted was that each member should, in turn, give an account of his or her experiences during the period between meetings. This arrangement precluded the election of more than twelve members in order that the meetings should not be too protracted; a few visitors were admitted from time to time but did not take an active part. At these meetings Mr. Groves took the chair and in fact occupied all the offices of the Club, except Editor, until 1946.
The first Report was published in 1934 and was edited by Mr. Alexander with assistance from J. D. Wood and F. R. Barlow. This arrangement continued until 1939 when A. J. Harthan took up the reins.
In 1935 associate members were introduced; the five shilling subscriptions  being allocated to the cost of the Report, meetings, etc. In the following and subsequent years periodic lectures for members and associates were arranged in rooms at the Midland Institute, the Natural History Society and the Chamber of Commerce. By the outbreak of war in 1939 the Club had 15 members and 60 associates ; the names of 19 people are listed as contributors to the Report for that year.
During the war activities of all sorts were severely curtailed. Meetings were held at the houses of members and a few out-of-doors, but throughout the period the Annual Reports were continued, with A. J. Harthan as Editor.
1945 saw the first stage in a complete reorganisation of the Club. The name was changed from the "Birmingham Bird Club" to "The Birmingham and District Bird Club," a constitution and rules were drawn up and early in 1946 officers and a committee were elected. The old distinction between 15 members and the rest of the Club went. Membership was open to anyone genuinely interested in birds, the subscription became 10/-  and junior members were admitted for the first time. Mr. H. G. Alexander became President; Mr. Groves, Vice-President, Acting Secretary and Treasurer; Mr. W. E. Kenrick became Chairman; Mr. Harthan continued as Editor and Mr. Lindsay Forster became Meetings Secretary. A committee of eight assisted in the management of the Club's affairs. In the Autumn of 1946, Mr. Groves and Mr. Harthan asked to be relieved of their duties of Secretary and Editor and Mr. C. A. Norris took up these offices.
At the Annual General Meeting in February, 1947, the new rules were adopted and the Club became "The Birmingham and West Midland Bird Club." A move to delete the word "Birmingham" from the name was referred back to the Committee and subsequently rejected. It was also in 1947 that the present arrangement of having monthly meetings in the City of Birmingham Art Gallery was first instituted, a privilege which has been of steadily increasing benefit to the Club. During the year member- ship increased from 144 adult members and 31 juniors to 219 and 39 respectively, an increase not achieved in any year before or since. The first Bulletin was produced in May of that year, but it was not until 1948 that they became a regular feature planned especially to keep members informed of future meetings and of past events in the bird world.
Since 1947 the basic structure of the Club has remained unchanged, but the scale of activities has increased, especially with the forming of Branches at Kidderminster, Studley and Stratford-on-Avon, and with the extension of the area covered by the Club so as to include the whole of Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Staffordshire. Membership has continued to increase, passing the three hundred mark in 1948, the four hundred mark in 1950, and reaching the five hundred in November, 1954.
Finally, in this jubilee Report, I must express to Mr. Alexander and Mr. Groves the sense of indebtedness which the whole Club owes to them for without their efforts we could never have advanced in the way that has proved possible. We must also thank particularly Mr. Harthan, for seven years our Editor, Mr. W. E. Kenrick, for seven years our Chairman, Mr. G. C. Lambourne, for six years our Treasurer, and the other officers and committee members who have helped in innumerable ways to make the wheels go round.
Whether our interest in birds is purely aesthetic, sporting, scientific, or a combination of these, we ran all gain a good deal from the Club and, by enlarging the number of people who take an intelligent interest in our subject, we can help to establish an educated climate of opinion which will bring lasting benefit to the birds we study. This must be the principal aim and object of all our work.
C. A. Norris.
[1^] 1 shilling = 5p.
[2^] 10/- = 10 shillings (50p).
Ornithology in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire & the West Midlands county, since 1929.
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