alexa British Mycological Society

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British Mycological Society

This is an extract from an article in Mycological Research by John Webster for the Centenary Celebrations of the Society in 1996. The origins of the British Mycological Society can be traced to Woolhope Field Naturalists' Club in Hereford and to the Yorkshire Naturalists' Union (Y.N.U.). The Woolhope Club was based on the Hereford Museum and in 1867 its Curator, Dr H. G. Bull encouraged the club to take a special interest in fungi. He invited them to join him in ` a foray among the funguses ' and this became an annual event, traditionally held in Hereford during the first week of October. The Woolhope Club meetings became a focus for all with an interest in fungi and attracted mycologists both from Britain and abroad. Members of the club dined at the Green Dragon Hotel in Hereford. The menu for dinner on 4 October 1877 shows that they dined well. Following Bull's death in 1885 the forays lost their popularity and ceased altogether in 1892. Fortunately the Y.N.U. had itself begun to organize regular forays in different parts of Yorkshire and formed a Mycological Committee in 1892. The Yorkshire forays attracted the attendance of Mordecai C. Cooke, Carleton Rea, George Massee, Charles B. Plowright and several keen Yorkshire amateur mycologists as well as some former Woolhopeians. It became the ambition of the Mycological Committee of the Y.N.U. that their annual forays would take the place of the Hereford Foray and `by avoiding the weak points of its predecessor, which were mainly confined to an excess of hospitality - prove at least equally attractive an instructive to mycologists' (Massee & Crossland, 1893, quoted from Ramsbottom, 1948). A need was also felt to provide an outlet for the publication of scientific articles on fungi to replace the role formerly played by Grevillea which ceased publication in 1894. The idea of forming a ` National Mycological Union' had been put forward at the Y.N.U. meeting in Huddersfield in 1895. The meeting was attended by Cooke, Massee and Rea, two of whom later served as Presidents or officers of the B.M.S., and by several assiduous Yorkshire mycologists, including C. Crossland, the Rev. W. W. Fowler, J. Needham and A. Clarke. It was Clarke, a keen photographer, who took the photograph of some of these founding fathers at his home, 16 St Andrew's Road, Huddersfield.

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