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    The Buckland Foundation was willed into existence by Frank Buckland who was the David Bellamy of the period 1860-80. People flocked to hear him talk and he never let slip any opportunity to make people aware of the importance of the fisheries and their problems in particular and of natural history in general. Trained as a Surgeon he took a commission as an Assistant Surgeon in the Life Guards and then, after a while began to write popular articles on natural history which were published in 1837 to great acclaim as a book entitled ‘Curiosities of Natural History’: it went to 15 editions and there were 3 additional volumes.

His success increased demands upon him as a writer and lecturer and he resigned his Commission in 1863. He had become interested in fish culture, then regarded simply as the rearing of fish from the egg, and an exhibit he had in the office-window on The Strand in London of ‘The Field’ magazine proved to be so popular on occasion that it stopped the traffic of the day. He gave a successful lecture on the subject in 1863 at the Royal Institution, subsequently published as ‘Fish Hatching’, and was struck by the intense interest that it aroused. One consequence of it was that he was permitted to set up a small display of fish hatching at the South Kensington Museum, the forerunner of the Science Museum, and by 1865 had collected there a range of exhibits which were to form the nucleus of his Museum of Economic Fish Culture. This aimed to inform the public about the fish and fisheries of the British Isles and for the rest of his life he laboured, in part, to develop this display. At about the same time he took office as a Salmon Inspector (1867) and also set up ‘Land and Water’ in opposition to ‘The Field’ after falling out with its Editor.

Britain’s growing population in the last century created many problems of food supply. The sea fisheries offered a cheap source of abundant first class protein and, as a result of the latent demand and the growth of railways, the North Sea fisheries grew spectacularly. Little was known about sea fish: no statistics of fish landings were available, at least in England, and there was little formal research. Buckland sat on four Commissions that looked at Fish and Fishing between 1875 and his death in 1880. In the same period a number of public fisheries exhibitions were held abroad and he tirelessly pressed for something similar to be staged in the United Kingdom. At all times he was concerned to explain, to teach and, most particularly, to make the general public aware of the importance of the fisheries and the need to protect and develop this great national asset. "Buckland’s voice", says Geoffrey Burgess, his most recent biographer, "remains the only one consistently calling for research into fishery problems, publicising the activities of the industry, drawing attention to the national importance of fish in the diet, and acting as a focus for those in the industry and elsewhere who were interested and concerned about its proper commercial development." Something of the flavour of his views are given by the following quotations from his reports and articles.

"A greater cry should more properly be established against those which deter or kill the fish by noxious materials which they pour into public waters for their private use and Benefit . - The above mentioned individuals and companies reap no inconsiderable profits from their individual operations, but while endeavouring to increase their own profits, they treat with indifference the welfare of the public, and an important source of food not only to themselves, but to the public in general".

"What objection can be reasonably argued against the employment of revenue cruisers for the accommodation of naturalists, appointed by Government . in order that they make a thoroughly practical examination of the dark and mysterious habits of food fishes. The trawl and tow net, we firmly believe, if judiciously and persistently employed over an extended area of the sea, by men able to identify what the nets drag up and entangle, would do more to bring to light was is now hidden and unknown than all the evidence collected by the Sea Fisheries Commission. It is a Government question, and not one of private of individual research. We feel confident that the time is not far distant when properly-equipped naturalists will be sent by Government to investigate the habits of deep sea fish."

"We want also samples of the surface water itself under peculiar conditions, for instance, what is the meaning of the wonderful white appearance of the sea which took place last autumn in nearly all the waters of the northern coast of England? What is the meaning of the occasional red appearance of the sea for many square miles? Again, how are we to devise a mesh of net that shall let go the small soles and undersized fry of other sea fish, and keep marketable fish only?"

Frank Buckland died in December 1880. A few days before his death he signed his will. His wife was to have a life interest in his estate but on her death £5,000 would be used to establish a trust fund to support ‘a professorship of Economic Fish Culture, to be called The Buckland Professorship’. The money became available in 1925 and in 1930 the first Buckland Lectures were given. It is clear that Frank Buckland intended the term ‘Fish Culture’ to be widely interpreted and to cover much more than fish hatching and the rearing of fry.

Trustees down the years have sought to ensure that the lectures have always been timely, important of value to those who depend for their livelihood on some aspect of fish and fishing as well as being of general interest. Each of the three Trustees holds office for a five year period and the day-to-day business of the Foundation is managed by its Clerk. In the Spring of each year there is a meeting of the Trustees at which the subject and the Buckland Professor for the following year is chosen. Once the nominee has accepted the invitation to hold the office of Buckland Professor for a calendar year he or she also accepts the responsibility for producing a text and giving at least three lectures at venues that provide the closest possible link with the area of fish and fishing being examined.


The Trustees hope that by continuing to keep alive, via the means willed to them by Frank Buckland himself, the memory of a man who dedicated his life to the improvement of the commercial fisheries of the British Isles they are helping, in their turn, to improve people’s understanding of problems in the present commercial fisheries.


Burgess, G.H.O., The Curious World of Frank Buckland, London, John Baker 1967.

List of Buckland Lectures

1930 Frank Buckland’s Life and Work W.Garstang

1931 Salmon Hatching and Salmon Migrations W.L.Calderwood

1932 The Natural History of the Herring in Scottish Waters H Wood

1933 The Natural History of the Herring in the Southern

North Sea W.C.Hodgson

1934 The Hake and the Hake Fishery C.F Hickling

1935 Oyster Biology and Oyster Culture J.H.Orton

1936 The Nation’s Fish Supply E.Ford

1937 Fish Passes T.E.Pryce Tarrant

1938 Hydrography in Relation to Fisheries J.B.Tait

1939 Rational Fishing of the Cod in the North Sea M.Graham

1947 The Stock of Salmon, its Migrations, Preservation and Improvement W.J.Menzies

1948 Sea Fisheries G.T.Atkinson

1949 The Plaice R.S.Winpenny

1950 River Pollution H.D.Turing

1951 Fishery Hydrography J.R.Lumby

1952 River Purification F.T.K.Pentlow

1953 Irish Salmon and Salmon Fisheries A.J.Went

1954 Inshore Fisheries H.A.Cole

1956 The Haddock B.B.Parrish

1957 Plankton (Published as the Fertile Sea) A.P.Orr

1958 Lemon Sole A.R.Bennett

1959 Fish Capture R.Balls

1960 Historical Background of International Organisations

for Regulating Fisheries, their achievements so far,

and prospects for the future R.J.H.Beverton

1961 The Stocks of Whales N.A.Mackintosh

1963 British Freshwater Fishes M.E.Varley

1964 Developments in the Handling and Processing of Fish G.H.O.Burgess

1965 The Lobster - its biology and fishery H.J.Thomas & A.C.Simpson

1966 Sonar in Fisheries - A Forward Look D.G Tucker

1967 The Artificial cultivation of Shellfish P.R.Walne

1969 Ocean Currents and their Influence on Fisheries A.J.Lee

1970 Fish, Nets and Men - An Underwater Approach to

Fisheries Research C.C.Hemmings

1971 Behaviour and the Fisheries F.R Harden Jones

1974 Exploitation of the Salmon Stocks K.A.Pyefinch

1977 The Edible Crab and its Fishery E.Edwards

1979 Maximum Use of British Aquatic Food Resources J.J.Connell & R.Hardy

1980 Scallop and Queen Fisheries in the British Isles J.Mason

1981 Marine Pollution and its Effect on Fisheries A.Preston & P.C.Wood

1982 Engineering, Economics and Fisheries Management G.Eddie

1983 A Story of the Herring G.Buchan

1984 Mackerel S.J.Lockwood

1985 Aquaculture R.J.Roberts


1987 The Norway Lobster C.Chapman

1988 North Sea Cod C.T.Macer

1989 Atlantic Salmon W.M.Shearer

1990 Pollution and Freshwater fisheries R.Lloyd

1991 The Common Fisheries Policy: Past, Present and Future M.J.Holden

1992 Industrial Fisheries, Fish Stocks and Seabirds R.Bailey

1993 Marine Protected Areas and Fisheries S.Gubbay

1994 Deep-Sea Fisheries: A New Resource? J.D.M.Gordon

1995 Bivalve Cultivation in the UK: Structuring Influences B.E.Spencer

1996 Protecting the seas: using science for a better environment J.S.Gray

1997 Global Change in the Coastal Zone - Implications for Fisheries P.Holligan

1998 The Deep Ocean: Use and Misuse M Angel
Sustainable Use of the Open Oceans: Waste Disposal  by Martin V. Angel

1999 The European Eel                                    C Moriarty

2000 Integrated Fisheries Management: a challenge for Common Fisheries Policy      David Symes

    Land & Water.  Copies are bound and can be found at the Science Museum Library.

Text of David Griffith's 1999 Open Lecture (on the evolution of ICES)


Most of the lectures have been published in book form and are still in print. For more information as to their availability please contact John Ramster, Clerk to the Buckland Foundation, 3 Woodside Avenue, Bridge of Weir, PA11 3PQ.

Phone/fax 01505 615402, email

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