The Shire Horse Society and the War Years


The Council of the Shire Horse Society beg to submit to the Members a report of their proceedings since the last Annual General Meeting held in March, 1940.

With the outbreak of war, a Special Emergency Committee was set up by the Council on 30th January, 1940, to conduct the affairs of the Society during the emergency period, and the following Members were appointed to form this Committee :-Mr. W. J. Cumber, C.B.E.(President), Col. A. F. Nicholson, C.B.E. (President-Elect), Mr. C. Barker, Mr. J. Morris Belcher, Mr. Thomas Forshaw, Sir Walter Gilbey, Bart., and Mr. A. Thomas Loyd.

This Committee has met regularly throughout the war years at the Farmers' Club, Whitehall Court, London, S.W.I, to consider schemes to maintain interest in Shire Horse breeding and to co-operate with the Members in the arduous tasks they have had to face during these abnormal times.

The various phases of the Society's ordinary programme have been continued so far as the prevailing conditions would allow.

The situation at the outset was far from encouraging with the suspension by the Government of the Heavy Horse Grants, which caused profound disappointment to Heavy Horse Breeders, was a set-back of the first magnitude, and called for immediate action by the Society. Strong representations were repeatedly made to the
Minister of Agriculture for the restoration of the Grants, backed up by overwhelming support from influential quarters, which the Society had gathered to substantiate their claims. Credit is due to the Society for their persistent efforts which resulted in the Gants being reinstated.

It may here be mentioned that Stallion Owners, for their part, met the position well by making considerable reductions in their hiring charges.

Successful application was also made for increased rations for travelling stallions.

What had come to be regarded as one of the main features of the Society's annual programme- the London Show-had to be abandoned in 1940. It wan imperative that the strength of the Society should not be impaired by any falling off in the Membership, and the Committee realised that in order to keep Members interested, a Show must be arranged at some convenient centre, even if it had to be on restricted lines. The Royal Agricultural Hall being no longer available, Messrs. Tattersall's were approached with regard to their premises at Knightsbridge, which offered suitable accommodation for at least a Stallion Show. The Police, however, would not give permission for such an exhibition with the inevitable risk of air raids.

Alternative accommodation was considered outside London, and Horse Repositories situated in suitable districts were inspected, but they had all been requisitioned by the Government, with the exception of Derby, where facilities were kindly placed at the disposal of the Society by the Derby Market Auctions for a Show and Sale to be held in the Cattle Market.

The sanction of the Ministry of Agriculture was obtained on condition that not more than 30 Stallions should be entered for " Show Only," and such event would have to be a combined Show" and Sale. In 1943, the Society held its first war time Show and Sale at Derby with the following classification :-

 Stallions  2 years old.  £15.  £10.  £7.  £5.  £3.
 3 years old  £15.  £10.  £7. £5.   £3.
 4 years old          
   and upwards  £15. £10.   £7.  £5.  £3.

 Gold Medal or the sum of £5 to the Champion.

This Show and Sale was continued in 1944 and 1945.

Commencing in 1941, Prizes for pedigree Colt and Filly Foals were arranged at the following centres :-Crewe, Derby, Hereford, Menai Bridge, Preston and Welshpool.

Successful Gelding Shows and Sales have been held at Shrewsbury during 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945. On the first occasion the Society contributed £180 towards the Prizes, and in each of the succeeding years, the amount has been £150. Augmented by liberal support from the Auctioneers, the following generous Prizes have been competed for, which has resulted in an exhibition of one of the finest collections of Shire Geldings at one centre, outside the London Shire Show :-

Geldings  4 years old and upwards
(16.3 and over)
 £20.  £15.  £10.  £5.  £5.   £5.
4 years old and upwards
(under 16.3)
 £20.  £15.  £10. £5.   £5.  
 3 years old  £20.  £15.  £10.  £5.  £5.  
 2 years old  £15. £10.   £5.    

Champion Prize of £20. Reserve Champion Prize of £10.


Grants of £25 and £50 respectively were made towards the Prizes of the National Pedigree Shire Foal Stakes Show, held at Preston in 1944 and 1945.

At Shows organised for the Red Cross Agriculture Fund, where representative classes for Shires were provided, the Society awarded Silver and Bronze Medals, and when Medals were no longer procurable, substituted these with Champion Rosettes and One Guinea. One hundred and fifty-two Shows, distributed all over the country, claimed these awards throughout the war period. The Society's contribution to the Red Cross Agriculture Fund was 250 guineas.

From 1941 to 1945, a sum of over £3,000 has been expended in Cash Prizes, Medals, Rosettes and other publicity schemes, and with the limited scope for such operations, it will be realised that every effort has been made to encourage breeding during the abnormal times.

During the war period the Membership has been well maintained, and an average election of 114 new Members per annum has to be recorded.

It is to be regretted that the annual Volume of the Stud Book has got behind in publication, but owing to the staff difficulties of our printers and paper restrictions, this could not be avoided.

The Society's financial position has remained sound, and it has been found possible to add a sum of £3,217 to the Reserve Fund, which has been invested in Government Securities.

Attention is called to the Society's temporary address, i.e., 5, Broadway East, Denham, Uxbridge, Middlesex.

Owing to the heavy air raids on London, the various Societies located at 12 Hanover Square, found it necessary to leave the premises in October, 1940. It was a matter for regret that the decision to evacuate necessitated the " splitting up " of the Societies after having been co-tenants for so long in what came to be known as "Breed Society House."

In conjunction with the Hunters' Improvement Society, office and adequate storage accommodation was secured at Denham, and the valuable records as well as the furniture belonging to both Societies were removed there. Although the temporary offices lack the spaciousness of Hanover Square, it has sufficed for the time being and the rental costs have been more than halved.

In the meantime, the Society's lease of Hanover Square has expired after a tenancy covering a period of 46 years.

It is desirable to return to London as soon as suitable offices can be obtained, and efforts are being made to find accommodation, but it is a difficult proposition at the moment and the rents required are exorbitant. The Hunters' Improvement Society express a wish to join us and are prepared to consider proposals to co-operate in every way, but do not think it wise to enter into any negotiations while rents remain at the present high level.

The death occurred in March, 1942, of Mr. M. R. Leather (late Assistant Secretary). He had been a loyal and faithful servant to the Society for 23 years. The loss of such an experienced employee has naturally placed a strain upon the office, and the Secretary has had to rely upon what temporary assistance he could find available. Our other permanent clerk, after having served over five years on Military Service, hopes to return to his duties with the Society shortly.

The foregoing report of the work of the Emergency Committee during the war years, was submitted to a Meeting of the Council held on 30th October, 1945, and at that Meeting, the appointment and the powers, delegated to the Committee for the emergency period, were terminated, and the Council resumed full control of the Society's affairs. The Council wish to place on record their appreciation of the good work carried out by the Emergency Committee during their term in office and under such abnormal circumstances.

It will be remembered that at an Extraordinary General Meeting held in March, 1940, the Members gave their consent to certain proposed alterations to the Society'sArticles of Association, briefly the import being to dispense with the election of new Officers for the duration of the war, and to empower the existing officers to remain in office until the post-emergency meeting.

The expression "post-emergency meeting" used in Articles 12b., 12d. and 12e., means the Annual General Meeting of the Society which shall be held next after the expiration of three months from such date as his Majesty may by Order in Council, declare to be the date on which the emergency that was the occasion of the passing of the Courts (Emergency1 Powers) Act 1939, came to an end. Provided always that at any time before such Order in Council is made, the Council of the Society by a resolution of the Council, may appoint which Annual General Meeting shall be the post-emergency meeting for the purposes of Articles 12b, 12d, and 12e, (as amended) and in that event, the expression post-emergency meeting used in the said Articles shall mean the Annual General Meeting so appointed.

By the powers vested in the Council by Article 12f, the following Special Resolution was unanimously adopted at a Council Meeting held on 30th October, 1945, to enable the Society to resume its pre-war status, viz. :-

"Resolved that in exercise of the power given to the Council by Article 12f, of the Society's Articles of Association (as amended), the Council do by this Resolution appoint that the Annual General Meeting of the Society to be held in 1946 shall be the post-emergency meeting for the purposes of Articles 12b, 12d, and 12e, of the Society's Articles of Association (as amended)."

The Council thereupon decided that the first post-war Annual General Meeting, under this resolution, be fixed for 6th March, 1946.

During the current year, 126 new Members have been elected to membership, but it is inevitable in a Society numbering over three and a half thousand Members, that some loss of subscribers has to be reported owing to deaths and resignations, but the elections have more than counterbalanced the losses. In normal times there has always been a field for obtaining new Members through the Shows, but during the war we have been deprived of this most fruitful source. The total on the Register at the close of the year was 3,598, i.e., 1,919 Annual, 1,677 Life and 2 Honorary.

With the prospect of several Shows being revived in 1946, facilities will be more favourable for approaching likely new supporters, while the Council will appreciate the help of Members in nominating new candidates for election, to keep the Society's membership up to strength.

The Accounts of the Society for the year ended 31st December, 1945, are submitted in the usual form overleaf.

As compared with £14,900 18s, 9d. at the end of 1939, the balance in favour of the Society on December 31st, 1945 was £22,322 13s. 5d. Mr. W. J. Cumber has been elected Honorary Treasurer vice the late Sir Walter Gilbey, Bart.

Volume 66 of the Stud Book is in course of preparation and will be ready within the next few months. With more labour available for our printers and with a full complement of office staff, every effort will be made to get back to the normal time of publication of the annual Volume of the Stud Book.

With regard to the Grade Registers, breeders are reminded that the female produce by a registered Shire Stallion out of a registered Clydesdale Mare, can be entered in Grade Register "B." A filly from the entry in Register "B" by a registered Shire Stallion is eligible for full registration in the Stud Book.

By kind permission of the Army Authorities, the Society's Spring Show and Sale in 1946 will be held on the Racecourse at Derby on March 7th. This will mean that better accommodation will be available for exhibits and a generous Prize List has been arranged.

The Council have to lament the deaths of several esteemed colleagues which unfortunately have occurred during the war period. The death of Sir Walter Gilbey, Bart., severed a close connection with the Society, which had existed for many years. Sir Walter had devoted his whole life to the well being of the "Horse." and in particular the "Shire," and his kindliness and consideration for his many friends will always be remembered. In his capacity as Honorary Treasurer, the Society's Funds have been carefully nursed, and it is largely due to his foresight that our financial position is so favourable to-day. Twice he had occupied the Presidential Chair.

The passing of Mr. A. Thomas Loyd was a great shock to everybody. He evinced the keenest interest in the Society's affairs, and his invaluable services and wise counsel were always at the disposal of the Council, and were recognised and appreciated by the bestowal of the highest honour at the disposal of the Society when he was elected President for the years 1929 and 1933. Mr. Loyd's charming personality endeared him to everyone.

The late Sir Edward Mann's interest in Shires has had an unbroken sequence since he joined the Society in 1882. Through his well-known Firm, he did much for the Shire Gelding, and their famous animals were to be seen at every Show of repute throughout the country. Sir Edward was President of the Society in 1935.

We mourn the loss of other valued Councilmen in Mr. Harold Garton, Mr. Ernest W. Headington, Mr. J. W. Hemingway, Mr. William Howkins, Mr. George Marsh, Mr. F. W. Parsons and Mr. Thomas P. Stuart.

The Breed and the Society can ill afford to lose such outstanding personalities, and they will be much missed. The active interest taken by these loyal supporters in the welfare of Shire Breeding will remain a lasting memory to all those who were associated with them.

By Order of the Council,
A. G. HOLLAND, Secretary.

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