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Merseyside AS in the
1940s

MERSEYSIDE SOCIETY FORMED

— Open to all Aquarists —

“To cater for all aquarist's and pond keeper's in the Liverpool district.”

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The inaugural meeting of the Merseyside Aquarists' Society was held at the Stork Hotel, Queen Square, Liverpool, in June 1946, and the following founder members were elected:

       President and founder:  F. Williams.
                    S. Anderson.
                       Secretary:  Mrs. L. Plant.
                       Treasurer:  H. Alderson.

Presumably, though not actually recorded, S. Anderson was elected Vice-President.

During the period 1946 to 1949 meetings were held on the last Thursday of each month and at the first meeting Messrs. Alderson and Williams read papers on how they themselves started keeping fish. Other members were asked to read papers at later meetings on their experiences. Monthly meetings continued at the Stork Hotel until a more permanent meeting place could be found. Junior members were allowed to join at half of the usual fee and prospective members were asked to write to the Secretary, Mrs L. Plant, for particulars of membership. Meetings were later held at the Byron Music Gallery, Haughton Street, which became the society's new headquarters when the meeting night was changed to the first Thursday of each month at 7-30pm until 9-45pm...

Society members Ernie Ebbutt and Norman Smith joined forces to form the York Aquaria Company based at Ernie Ebbutt’s fathers house in Wavertree, Liverpool. They both share the distinction, as far as I can tell, of being the first Society members to make a business out of the hobby of tropical fish keeping and, although only run on a part-time basis (evenings and weekends), was very successful. They were possibly the first retailers of tropical fish in Liverpool, the earliest advertisement I could find appearing in the Liverpool Echo in 1946, coincidentally the year that Merseyside AS was formed!

In an exchange of correspondence with Bill Bailey of the Liverpool Aquaria Company, he informed me that Ernie Ebbutt's full time job was the manager of the York Trunk Company owned by the father of Rex Makin, the famous Liverpool lawyer and philanthropist. Rex Makin said that his father had set up his trunk manufacturing business in York Street, Liverpool, from where the name derived and, that both Ernie and Norman were both employee's of his father. In all probability the York Aquaria Company took its name from Mr. Makin's York Trunk Company...

A programme was organised for future meetings and as far as I could ascertain, the first 'outside’ lecturer to be booked was Eric Hardy, FZS., of the British Empire Naturalist Association who gave a talk on 'Jordan Valley Cichlid’s and Reptiles.' This was the first of many lectures to be given by Mr. Hardy who eventually became President of our Society and remained so for many years...

Delegates from Merseyside AS, Belle Vue AS, Derby AS, East Lancashire AS, Halifax AS, Leeds AS and Sheffield AS held an Inaugural meeting in 1947 to form the FNAS (Federation of Northern Aquarium Societies)...

1948-49 saw the Merseyside AS members involved in a three day exhibit called the Liverpool Horticultural Show held at St. George’s Hall (this being the forerunner to the Liverpool Flower Show held at the Wavertree Playground...

The newly formed Liverpool & District Aquarium Society (afterwards known as the Liverpool Aquarium Society) was established by our founder members, Frank Williams, Mrs. L. Plant and Harry Alderson, who had all left the Merseyside AS to form the new society. They met at the Community Centre, Penny Lane, Wavertree, where they installed a fishtank which was on display to the public. Liverpool Aquarium Society was made an Honorary Member of the Winnipeg Fish Club, Canada, in 1949...

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