The 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Moss Exchange Club, which became the British Bryological Society in 1923, was commemorated by a two-day meeting of the Society in London on 27 and 28 September 1946. The local Secretaries for the meeting consisted of the President (Mr W. R. Sherrin), Mrs Sherrin, Dr S. Wyard and Mr A. D. Banwell.
The meeting opened in the Board Room of the British Museum (Natural History) in the afternoon of Friday, 27 September, the President being in the Chair. Forty-seven members and friends attended. After welcoming those present, the President called on Prof. T. M. Harris for his lecture on ‘The Fossil History of the Bryophytes ‘.
Having carried out original research on the subject, Prof. Harris was able to speak from personal knowledge and experience. Many members knew little about fossil bryophytes, and the opportunity of hearing an authoritative account of them and of seeing the photographs and drawings with which the lecture was illustrated proved most welcome. Afterwards there were questions and a short discussion.
The meeting then adjourned to the main entrance of the building to have its photograph taken. Bryologists must be retiring people, for some difficulty was experienced in persuading any one to stand in the front row of the group.
After tea, Miss Wigglesworth lectured on ‘Reproduction in Polytrichum commune ‘. Here, too, the lecturer spoke on a subject which she had personally investigated, and numerous drawings and specimens were produced by way of illustration; questions and discussion followed. A paper on the subject by the lecturer appears elsewhere in this issue.
The formal proceedings being over, members turned their attention to the exhibits. These included some sheets and slides from the herbarium of the late Mr H. N. Dixon, part of the Society’s own Moss Herbarium, and several striking exotic mosses from the Museum’s collections. The last included some beautiful species of the genus Spiridens , which was revised by Mr W. R. Sherrin in 1937.
Also shown were selections of recent new V.C. records of mosses, Sphagna and hepatics, various microscope slides and living specimens, and several sheets of coloured drawings of British mosses by Dr L. B. C. Trotter and Prof. J. Else. Some recent additions to the Society’s library were on view, together with a copy of the first Report of the Moss Exchange Club and the original notices of the formation of the Club in Science Gossip and the Irish Naturalist.
On the following morning the meeting left Charing Cross by train for Tunbridge Wells. From there, under the guidance of Mr G. E. Shaw and Mr F. Rose, the party went by special bus to The Warren, Eridge. Here members explored Eridge Rocks, and the shady sandstone outcrops proved of considerable interest, particularly to hepaticologists.
The weather was brilliantly fine and hot. A picnic lunch was taken in a clearing in the woods, and afterwards one party returned to Tunbridge Wells and thence to London, while another group walked over to Harrison Rocks, near Forge Farm. These could be explored only briefly owing to lack of time, but several additional species were found. This second party returned direct to London from Eridge Station.
Although of much interest, the area was not expected to yield many new discoveries, as it had already been worked by the late Mr W. E. Nicholson and others. Among the plants collected, however, Dr P. W. Richards has detected Calypogeia Meylanii Buch, which is new to Britain, and an account of it appears on another page. Some other species noted were:
Cephalozia connivens, c. fr. (fruiting later than usual, according to other records)
In the evening thirty-two members and a few friends assembled at the Eccleston Hotel for the Anniversary Dinner. Mr Sherrin presided, and members were fortunate in having as guests Sir Clive Forster-Cooper, Director of the Natural History Museum, and Dr J. Ramsbottom, Keeper of Botany.
After dinner, Dr Richards gave a brief outline of the origins and history of the Society, and welcomed the guests, both of whom spoke in reply. It was encouraging to hear from them that in subjects like bryology the Museum relied to a considerable extent on the activity and co-operation of amateurs, as did many other centres of botanical learning. Dr Ramsbottom added that he had been asked to convey the greetings and good wishes of the British Mycological Society, which also was celebrating its 50th birthday that year.
Reference was made to the absence of Dr S. Wyard, whose fatal illness caused his death a few days later. He had been doing valuable preliminary work for the Meeting until only a month or so previously, and his loss was greatly felt. Among those thanked amidst applause was Prof. J. Else. For each person present he had decorated a menu card with coloured drawings, which combined bryology, art and humour in an admirable way.
A. D. Banwell