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The Agricultural Improvement Council for England and Wales, 1941-1962 February 6, 2011

Posted by Will Thomas in Technocracy in the UK.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

From time to time, as part of my survey of expertise in the British state project, I will post here some raw research results until the time arises when I can create a more permanent home for them.  Recently I have been looking at the Agricultural Improvement Council (AIC) for England and Wales.  This post contains a complete list of AIC members, and some background information, which I have assembled from archival files and do not believe to be readily accessible elsewhere.

The AIC was created by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) in 1941 to forge a closer link between agricultural research and agricultural practice.  I will write more about this soon.  Its major role was to oversee the building-up of the National Agricultural Advisory Service (NAAS, est. 1946) and its network of Experimental Husbandry Farms (EHFs) and Experimental Horticulture Stations (EHSs), which proliferated mainly in the late 1940s and the 1950s.  It also provided some advisory oversight over agricultural research (mainly managed by the Agricultural Research Council, ARC), conducting surveys of research and agricultural needs to help keep research programs and advice in tune with problems and questions in farming practices.  This last task involved a proliferation of investigatory committees and sub-committees, and it was this organizational bloat that caused the Conservative Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) Christopher Soames (1920-1987) to wind it up in 1962.

The AIC was weighted toward its scientific representation, but it also had a strong contingent of high-profile farmers, as well as representatives of the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the National Union of Agricultural Workers (NUAW).  After it was wound up, it was replaced with twin bodies, the Agricultural Advisory Council and the Horticultural Advisory Council, which were dominated by representatives from farming.  A number of others not on the council were invited to routinely attend council meetings.  I have not tried to keep track of that group in a systematic way.

Chairs (unofficially ex officio the permanent secretary of the MAF/MAFF)

1941-1945: Donald Fergusson

1945-1952: Donald Vandepeer

1952-1959: Alan Hitchman

1959-1962: John Winnifrith

Technical Secretaries (1941-1942)

John Fryer (mycologist) and E. C. Lloyd (from MAF Animal Health Div.)

Secretaries (1942-1962)

1942-1944: John Fryer (left to become Secretary of the ARC)

1944-1949: William Slater (left to become Secretary of the ARC)

1949-1959: W. Morley Davies

1959-1962: Mrs. J. B. E. Haydon and R. Eric Taylor (joint)


1941-1944: W. W. C. Topley (Secretary of the ARC)

1941-1944: Lord Cornwallis (Kent Agricultural Society)

1941-1944: Earl of Feversham

1941-1944: Capt. E. Foster

1941-1944: George Stapledon (major figure in grasslands research)

1941-1944: L. G. Troup

1941-1946: James A. Scott Watson (resigned when he became Chief Scientific and Agricultural Advisor to MAF)

1941-1947: Christopher Nevile (NFU)

1941-1952: Thomas Dalling (MAF Chief Veterinary Officer, 1948-1952)

1941-1953: Arthur Holness (NUAW, editor of The Land Worker)

1941-1953: Dennis G. Brown (Northumberland farmer)

1941-1962: Frank Engledow (Drapers’ Professor of Agriculture at Cambridge, 1930-1957)

1944-1946: Anthony Hurd

1944-1948: John Fryer (Secretary of ARC)

1944-1953: C. Bryner Jones (longtime figure in agricultural education at Aberystwyth)

1944-1953: Davis Lewis (Welsh farmer, businessman, and politician)

1944-1955: F. A. Secrett (Surrey horticulturalist)

1944-1956: Edward Salisbury (Director of Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, 1943-1956)

1944-1956: Thomas Neame (Kent farmer and horticulturalist)

1944-1962: Frank Rayns (Director of Norfolk Agricultural Station, 1925-1960)

1944-1962: James Turner (later Lord Netherthorpe, NFU President, 1945-1960)

1945-1949: Earl of Radnor (ex officio as chair of the Agricultural Machinery Development Board)

1947-1950: G. R. H. “Dick” Nugent (left when elected MP)

1947-1955: Harold G. Sanders (officially left when he succeeded Scott Watson as Chief Scientific Adviser for Agriculture at MAFF; continued to attend)

1948-1953: H. V. Taylor (professor)

1949-1960: William K. Slater (ARC Secretary)

1950-1959: Hugh Finn (Kent poultry farmer)

1950-1959: H. Cole Tinsley (large-scale farmer in Peterborough)

1952-1955: F. Blakemore (veterinary medicine professor)

1953-1956: Frank Griffith (North Welsh hill farmer)

1953-1959: Ellis J. Roberts (professor of agriculture at Bangor in North Wales)

1953-1962: Thomas Wallace (professor)

1953-1962: Harold Collison (NUAW General Secretary)

1953-1963: Duke of Northumberland (Middlesex landowner)

1953-1962: H. J. Rathbone (land agent)

1955-1955: J. T. Beresford

1955-1962: Capt. J. F. Bomford (Worcestershire farmer and market gardener)

1955-1959: James A. Scott Watson (returns to membership following official MAF post, but attended entire time in that capacity)

1956-1959: Edward Gibby (Welsh farmer)

1956-1960: Kenneth Mather (genetics professor)

1956-1962: E. G. White (professor of veterinary medicine)

1956-1962: J. W. S. Mount (prominent Kent horticulturalist)

1959-1959: J. F. Thomas (farmer, killed in an auto accident almost immediately after being named to the AIC)

1959-1961: Joseph Hutchinson (Drapers’ Professor of Agriculture at Cambridge)

1959-1962: Percy T. Thomas (Director, Welsh Plant Breeding Station, 1958-1974)

1959-1962: John Edgar (farmer near Fareham, apparently had the “most intensive farms in the county”)

1959-1962: Cyril Thornber (from Halifax, apparently was a key figure in the introduction of large-scale poultry breeding in the UK; you can read about it on the Thornber Properties website)

1959-1962: K. W. T. Jones (another in the revolving door of Welsh farmers)

1960-1962: E. Gordon Cox (ARC Secretary, 1960-1971)

1961-1962: Alan Robertson (Edinburgh Institute of Animal Genetics)

1961-1962: Prof. M. McG. Cooper (professor, grasslands farming expert, King’s College, Durham)


1. Thony C. - February 6, 2011

Before you know it Will we’ll have you listening to The Archers!

2. Will Thomas - February 7, 2011

Wow, thanks, that’s actually pretty relevant — I’ll be on the lookout for the BBC radio connection in the archives. Probably won’t be tuning in to catch the latest episodes, though!

3. Thony C. - February 7, 2011

I know that it’s relevant, that’s why I posted it. There is also a license version of the Archers in Viet Nam with the same function of disseminating information on agricultural improvements and if I remember rightly they were planning one for Afganistan.

4. Will Thomas - February 27, 2011

Well, Thony, I’m now watching a documentary that happens to be on TV about the background knowledge of rural life that goes into the production of The Archers.

I’ve also been looking into the Agricultural Land Service archives, and naturally enough ran into this:


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