THE EARLY SHOWS : 1920’s
This coming decade will see the centenary of the development of the Gloster fancy canary, and the early shows at which the variety appeared set in motion the wheels of development that sees no signs of abating.
Indeed when Mrs L Rogerson exhibited her small crests at the mid-1920s Crystal Palace shows, she could not have foreseen that in 100 years the breed would be one of the most significant across the world.
Yet the instigation of the International Gloster Breeders Association in 1966 did indeed carry the Gloster far and wide.
From the 19th Century almost until WW2, the annual shows at Crystal Palace served as the precursor to the National Exhibition in England.
The show of 1925, when Mrs Rogerson displayed her small crests in the novice section, would not have been as eventful , and we might have had a different outcome with regards to the formation of a new breed of canary, if she had not contacted Albert William Smith prior to the show.
Oh to have been a fly on the wall at the resultant conversation between Smith, John McLay and Mrs Rogerson at the seminal Palace Show. Mr McLay from Kirkintilloch, near Glasgow, took up the challenge with Mrs Rogerson and together with a small group of others, created what we now know as the Gloster Fancy Canary.
My research indicates that it was 1928 when the Gloster was first exhibited at the Palace Show. However i have no record of the occasion. However in Cage Birds February 1929, we have a snippet that appraises the Palace show of that current year. The writer leaves us in no doubt when, and by courtesy of whom, the little gems first appeared:
The issue of February 16, 1929 records that at the 1929 Palace show 11 cocks and 12 hens were entered, with both corona and consort in the same class. Mrs Rogerson won both classes with crested examples. John McLay was second in the cock class and fourth in the hen class. A Mrs Fletcher was second in the hen class, again with a corona.
Mrs Rogerson’s winning cock was described as being “wing marked with a dark shapely crest, good wings, and excellent quality with an even crest”
McLay’s runner up was said to be “colour fed of good shape with a nice even crest, but scarcely the tight feather” . The leading hen was of “clear body, dark crest, good shape and quality with neat wings”.
Mrs Fletcher’s hen was “close up [that is, pushing the winner hard for top spot] with a neat crest and close fitting wings”
It is apparent that the emphasis in those early days was on lightly marked crested birds and that ethos prevailed for many years.
The same February 16 issue also had a piece presumed to be by the author entitled “The Modernites” [his term not mine]. In it he states: “Gloster Fancies!!Does the old cathedral city rejoice in this modern breed? But is it modern? We have seen birds such as these exhibited for many years past at Continental shows in the German classes. More our mind goes back to the days when the crested Norwich were not far in advance of this modern breed. After all the booming and shouting the Gloster is not making much headway. If it is intended to act as an off-set to the excesses of the Norwich Crested breeders it may do some good, but frankly, as it is presented today I can see little hope for it. Where does the Gloster end and the Norwich begins?”
Norman Wallace: Cage & Aviary May 6, 2020 page 9 with Andy Earl & Rob Innes
Albert William Smith: The Gloster Fancy Canary [c1958]
Norman Wallace: Past Masters Cage & Aviary Birds May 9, 2012 page18