A BRIEF HISTORY

of

 Cleethorpes B & FBS

by

Mary Snell

While attempting to report the successes and future hopes and fears of this unique society, it has amazed me of the dedication of some of its founder members, some of whom are still active today. In conversation with Dorothy Dawes, I soon found out her wealth of knowledge of the societys former years. Although, not a founder member, like so many ladies, she shared the same interest in birds as her husband Roy, so philosophically she said “if you cant beat ‘em, join ‘em” What a godsend Dorothy has been. In many years of association ith the club, Dorothy has been the treasurer and her ‘Hallmark’ has been one of near perfection.
The Society was formed in November 1951. A lot of hard work and dedication was to the fore. The monthly meetings were held at the Criterion Café, ( now the Seaway Café). The committee meetings were at The Dolphin Hotel. Members ran a small library where you could hire books each month for a small fee.
Staging was hired from Notts and Derby Society for £6. Here is some news that I doubt if many would be willing to do today, that is fetch it from the afore mentioned Society and of course return it after the show. On one occasion two gentlemen, who shall remain anonymous, lost their way home in Lincoln and finished up in Bracebridge. This caused great amusement as Bracebridge hospital was for mentally sick people. Remember also vans were bone shakers in those days.


 

It is thought the first open show was on the Pier in 1958, and of interest to me, Dorothy says the gate was £61-2s-4d = £61.13p. Catalogues were £12-8s-6d = £12.43p. Enterance fees, Adults 1/- = 5p, Children 6d = 2 1/2p. The hire of the Pier was £35. The show opened 2pm til 10.30pm on Saturday and 9.30 til 8pm on Sunday.
In the early days an exhibition of birds was held a the Old Baths on the Promenade. A small area had been rented for this event. The ladies took it in turns to man the paybox and were paid 10/- = 50p each for the week end. Its got me wondering if I should go on strike in 1996 for some pay.
Feeling the first flushes of wealth in 1958 they purchased some staging themselves for £84. That I feel sure you will agree was sound business practice.
Another exhibition was held at the Yarra Café from July 17th to July 29th 1954 and raised £81-9s-1d (£81.45p) for club funds. Who are these men and women who worked so hard, certainly they were the salt of the earth and the back bone of Cleethorpes B & FB S. Many may have passed away, some left the hobby years ago. The earliest Catalogue I have is 1954 when the names of J. Brammer Chairman, W. Reveler Sec/treasurer, J. Winn, H.Shortland, J.Sadler and L. Brooks were committee members. W. Mumby-Croft President, J.E. Haith, Hewitt Bros. (local brewery) were vice-presidents. Exhibitors listed were world renowned Harry Bryan, Arthur Bracey (later B.S. Chairman and President) Sandy Charlton, Jack Dart, Day Bros. (Scunthorpe), Arthur Dexter (later B.S. President), Bob Farrow, Harry Jackson, Phil Keep, frank Punchard (later B.S. President), Wilf Nelson, Taylor & Cadey, A.a. Collier, Eric Welband.
Names of distinction judged the shows, Messrs Harry bryan, Willy Watmough (author of the famous ‘Cult of the Budgerigar’ known to many as the Budgie Bible), Len Hillas, Ken Farmer, Bill Bancroft, Jim Fell, Ray Brown, Will Addey, Alf Ormerod and Jack Freshney. The list is endless who exhibited, fanciers from all over the U.K.came to show at Cleethorpes. The ‘Cleethorpes Classsic, was certainly a prestigious show and was well and truly here to stay.
The highest entry was in 1956 when1,692 birds were entered, the next highest was in 1985 when a total of 1,408 was recorded.
One can not forget people that came to Cleethorpes year after year. Margaret and Brian Binns from Manchester came to the show on their Honeymoon and the years that followed brought their baby sons. Frank and Betty Punchard brought their son John when he was only a few weeks old. We remember Mr Frank Draper from Basingstoke, with his rendering of bird songs set to classical music. This was on a loud speaker system outside the Memorial Hall. Through this, Cleethorpes B. & F.B.S. were reported to the police, someone living on Isaacs Hill reported us for the noise. It is not printable the comments that were made from the exhibitors, even the Police agreed it was a lovely sound, but they had their job to do.
Cleethorpes Show has been at the Memorial Hall since 1961 and until 1995 it was on week 35. The past few years has been a bit of a struggle as other Shows have come on to that date. It seems a little unfair that newly formed Clubs should be allowed by the Budgerigar Society to do such things, but there are no fast rules on these matters.
My introduction to the Society was in 1966 when Christopher was aged 11, he was a Junior. One vivid memory of that year was England winning the World Cup and Arthur and Christopher having to leave the television set before the end of play top collect the birds from St. Peters Church Hall where there had been a Members Show. Remember Budgie Ball? He was a well known goal keeper in local football and was the only person in the hall with the birds. I know the Snell Family has enormous admiration for Budgie, especially for his dedication to the Society on such an auspicious occasion.
Arthur’s interest was as great as Christopher’s and it was obvious Christopher’s pocket money of 2/6 (12 1/2p) wasn’t going to help improve their stock, so the partnership of C. & A. Snell appeared in schedules in 1967. At the A.G.M. that year, Arthur succeeded Sandy Charlton as Chairman. A difficulty had arisen at the Open Show, regarding a person to man the pay box. I pertly remarked they wanted someone who was prepared to stay on all the time. Yes you’ve guessed right, I had talked myself into the job and I have been there since 1968.


 

Soon, I was meeting the people of the fancy, Dot & Roy Dawes, Pat & Keith garner, Olive & Bob Farrow, Marion & Jack Jones, Chris & John Siddle, Trudi & Sam Taylor, Roy Cadey, Nora & Joe Robson, all devoted members to the Society. We all had children who were at the Open Show with us, but they were impeccably behaved.
One recalls Sid Elkington, a gentleman of great knowledge, not just of birds, but a variety of subjects. I always enjoyed his visits to our home, he was such an interesting person. Remember how Sid always had a glass of ‘Sanatagen’ every day, he was a good advert for this ‘Pick me up wine’. Sid lived to be 98 years of age.
Meetings were well attended at the Memorial Hall. I remember one evening, an ashen faced husband came home and said he had opened the meeting, with a two minute silence in memory of the speaker, Mr Stan Bradshaw of Skegness, who had collapsed and died in the Memorial Hall before the meeting had started. The meeting was adjourned out of respect.
More fanciers joined, namely Mike Cousins, Brian Harrison, Eileen & Ken Middleditch, Joan & Mike Ballard, Mavis & Ray Osgar and Mary, Jack, Barry Robinson, all great characters and exhibitors. For first class entertainment the supper table at the Snells after meeting nights was the place to be. Messrs Cousins, Middleditch and Harrison’s quick wit and repartee was hilarious. Mike won a rosette so had his photo taken with it pinned on his pyjamas and sat up in bed. Brian got his photo in cage & Aviary and sent an autographed framed picture to Mike. We all spent many happy hours, but a great deal of knowledge was also gleaned.
The World Cup Show was held at the Granby Halls, Leicester. C. & A. Snell first showed there in 1969. The following year brought extra interest and other members joined them in exhibiting their birds. Transport was going to be difficult until \mike Cousins stepped into the breach and offered to take them in his butchers van. Arthur had Friday afternoon off work to collect cages from around the town. Our garage, lounge, hall, dining room and kitchen, by 6.30pm, were full of budgies and foreign bird cages. Over 100 cages would be packed into the van and off they went, Mike and Christopher to Leicester. Christopher stayed the week-end with Sheila & Monty Stradling, this was the ritual for many years. In the early days, going to shows, many fanciers thought Mike was my son. I pointed out the different names, but they thought Mike must have been to a former husband. For several years we enjoyed our annual trip on the Saturday to the Club Show, most of us had lunch at Fenwicks, then the men dashed to the Granby Halls, but we ladies never rushed, but we did browse round the department stores. Remember ladies, the laughs we had at the millinery corner, maybe we lost a little of our dignity there. We met up with the men at the show in time for the bus departure at 6.30pm.


 

By 1974 a young man by the name of Allan Michael joined us and what an asset he’s been to the club. He often recalls the first meeting with Arthur, Allan was helping repair some staging and was promptly told he wasn’t using the saw correctly. Many is the time I’ve heard Allan remark ‘ God you’re a stickler for precision’ A friendship grew between him and the Snells, so much so, we came to look upon him as an extra son, Without Allan I wouldn’t be able to attend meetings or indeed be on the committee of Cleethorpes and the L.E.A. His contributions to the Society is second to none.
In the days when birds were sent by rail it was a mammoth job of getting them boxed after a show in time to catch the necessary train departure. A source of amusement was one of the Porters who checked the boxes and his method of counting 28/29/3010, yes thirty ten.
Social activities were more to the fore, some of us had a table booked at the Winter Gardens on a Saturday evening for Café Continental. We always had a dinner and dance, that was the highlight of the year. Tickets were limited, I think to 120, and they were mostly held at the Dolphin Hotel. To us ladies, you would think it was the Dorchester, we wore our posh long frocks (the hairdressers did a roaring trade on the Saturday afternoon) We did things ‘proper’. Dave Harries was a professional MC and he officiated those duties for several years. We danced the night away to Colin Monk and his quartet. The twist and Viva La Spana was never performed with such gusto. The waltz, quick step and foxtrot to some of us was the same steps just different tempo. We used to say ‘ Victor Sylvester’ eat your heart out. But what a good time we all had. We also had social evenings in New Waltham Village Hall. Fancy dress was popular, Joe Robinson went as the man who walked on the moon, Mike Cousins as a tramp, his disguise was so good we doubted who it was. The only two social gatherings we have now are ‘Steeles night out’, that’s supper in their restaurant followed by a game of bingo, plus the usual raffle. In may, we have our Car Rally, past organisers have been John Siddle & Keith garner. Allan Michael presides over us now. We finish with a supper and an inquest of the clues which can be best described as Bedlam.
On week 35 when it was Open Show dates, you saw us all in a different light. Cleethorpes took over the Memorial Hall during the Friday afternoon, staging was erected to receive entries from 6pm. The kitchen was the ladies domain, sinks, sides, cupboard shelves were scrubbed, cutlery cleaned with duraglit ( we didn’t own our own in those days). Cups, saucers and plates were washed more to our liking, so by 10 o’clock the kitchen was prepared for the busy two days ahead. The near by fish and chip shop did a roaring trade when we offered our supper, (no washing up after except our fingers, but by golly, they tasted even better out of newspaper.) Fanciers stayed Friday and Saturday nights as security, Budgie Ball, Roy Dawes, John siddle, keith garner and Christopher Snell were some who took turns. Action stations were as early as 6am on the Saturday morning, and by 7am a hive of activity as the birds were arriving. (It wasn’t until the middle of 1980’s that Arthur Snell proposed we served bacon butties, this proved to be very successful) After the initial rush, the kitchen staff were preparing for lunches, upto 60 would be prepared. Forgive me if I blow my own trumpet, but we were a group of well organised ladies. They were Trudi, Olive, Eileen, Nora, Mavis, Chris, Elizabeth (Keiths mother) and in the not so distant past, Jane, Peggy and June. Doors were opened at 2pm and there was always a queue eager to get in. Refreshments were provided by the ladies, one Saturday after closing at 9pm, Eileen and myself went home to do more baking as the stock was low for the Sunday rush. Baking Victoria sponges isn’t so time consuming as waiting for them to cook. I remember Arthur thought I was getting up when indeed I was only just going to bed.
Sunday was the busiest day, bus trips would arrive and the one from Leicester would cause such an eruption, but what sports they all were. They used to get me till I didn’t know whether I was coming or going but the Memorial hall was electric with excitement. Lifting time was 5pm and by 6.30pm you wouldn’t have known a Bird Show of that size had taken place. Some of us would go to Steeles for fish and chips (eaten in a refined manner) then home and totter into bed exhausted but very satisfied with the show. The gentlemen who are officials of the Society always acknowledge the service the ladies give. The help of the office staff and the kitchen ladies is always appreciated.


 

One never forgets the name of J.E. Haith Seed importers. Ted was on the first schedule and catalogues. He was a Vice President and then President for many, many years until his death in January 1994. The Haith family have been benefactors of Cleethorpes since its formation. Their generosity is second to none, the monthly raffle is donated by them, so is a cheque every year for Club funds. Ted always showed great interest in Cleethorpes and its fanciers. Arthur, and the late Jack Freshney had consultations with Ted and Ray re: mixture seeds for budgerigars. The results were budgie tonic seed that is sold today. The Haiths, always welcomed fanciers to their factory. I know Arthur has taken many overseas friends and they have given then a guided tour of their upto date factory. Cleethorpes is still honoured today by having Ray Haith as our President.
Who are the people at the helm today, Keith is chairman, Dorothy still treasurer, always escorted by Roy. Marion & Jack still Show Secretaries, and what stalwart work they do. I was nominated Secretary at the 1995 AGM, a post I held when Arthur was Chairman. Some, have passed away, Jack dart, he did raffle for many years, both he and Arthur died in 1994. Ray Oscar, he was also a gentleman of the Society.
Younger men who have families to care for, in my case Christopher who cannot commit himself due to work and family commitments, friends we don’t see so much of these days, Bob & Olive Farrow, Chris & John Siddle, Trudi & Sam Taylor, Margaurite & Roy Cadey, June & Frank Pett and Mike Cousins, all in their way contributed so much to Cleethorpes.


 

Let us stop to think for a while, the effort that goes into a Society. The staging doesn’t magically appear, it is stacked, stored and brought by van to the Memorial hall by Ian Challis and the reverse happens after the Show. You can bet your bottom dollar Roy Dawes is in the middle of all this. Mike Plumridge, a great worker and an asset on the Committee. Peggy Simpson, June Hopkins and Mr & Mrs Hutton willing to help in any way they can, and Nora Robson still there doing her best effort even after the amputation of a leg. Proper Posh we are now Wally Thompson is our ‘Catering Manager’ and cooked lunches are served, also serving the bacon butties at 6.30am. The aroma of bacon frying is an added welcome to fanciers so early in the morning. We are fortunate that some of the men have provided us with a dishwasher (namely themselves).
For several months before Arthur’s death we used to reminisce and what pleasure we derived from it. Its true what the song says ‘memories live longer than dreams.’ I hope this article has relived happy times and brought back personal memories for you. To new members you will gather that we were and still are a happy, friendly Society.
To us that were there in its ‘Hey Days’ the 1960s - 70s and 80s we are not ‘old’ but in our mature years. True we cannot rush around like we used to do and our memories are not as sharp, but we still have the will to try and make Cleethorpes into the great Society of yesteryear.
We look forward to the future and who better to give us an insight to this than Stephen Garner at the helm. We live in the age of the Computer, something that baffles a lot of us. Stephen and his mother Pat have been one of the greatest assets of the past year. Their valued contributions to the paper work for the show was second to none and with their knowledge we step into a new era and keeping up with the times.
So with happy times passed, here’s to a future of many happy and successful years ahead.
If ladies and gentlemen I have missed out your names and contributions to Cleethorpes B & FBS please accept my apologies.

Mary Snell

 

 

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