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Milestones

1889 February: formation of the embryonic Society in Didsbury. Emily Williamson Hon Secretary until May 1891.

1891 The Didsbury group and ladies attending Eliza Phillips' Fur and Feather meetings at her house in Croydon amalgamate to become the Society for the Protection of Birds.
June: Duchess of Portland accepts the office of President and remains so until her death in 1954.
October: first report of the Society. Society's first publications: two pamphlets and three leaflets, including one by W H Hudson entitled The Osprey, or Egrets and Aigrettes. Leaflet no 1 = Destruction of Ornamental Plumaged Birds.

1892 Constitution adopted. Margaretta Lemon (universally known as Mrs Lemon, married to Frank Lemon) appointed Hon Secretary.

1894 W H Hudson elected Chairman of Committee (i.e. Council).

1895 Montagu Sharpe (later Sir Montagu) elected Chairman of Committee and remains so until 1942.

1897 First office established in London, at 326 High Holborn in the offices of Witherby & Sons, publishers: the Hon Sec and a paid assistant secretary work from here.

1898 June: office moves to 3 Hanover Square, rented from the London Zoological Society.
First Society Christmas cards produced: some 4,500 sold.

1899 September: Queen Victoria confirms an Order that certain regiments should discontinue wearing 'osprey' plumes.

1900 First legacy received - £25.

1901 Society gives prizes for essays suggesting the best way of establishing Bird and Tree Day (i.e. the start of the schools educational programme).
First watcher appointed, to protect breeding pintails at Loch Leven, Scotland.

1902 Bird and Tree Scheme initiated: continues until 1964. Watchers' Fund started.

1903 April: first issue of Bird Notes and News, the first regular publication for members.
Society's first postcards appeared featuring various species of bird.

1904 3 November: incorporated by Royal Charter: now The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Frank Lemon appointed Hon Secretary.
Membership subscription set at one guinea for Fellows, five shillings for Members.

1905 Watchers' Committee established.

1906 RSPB sells its first nestboxes.

1908 Importation of Plumage (Prohibition) Bill introduced to Parliament (but not passed until 1921).
Inspector appointed by RSPB to investigate caged bird trade.

1909 Office moves to 23 Queen Anne's Gate.

1913 Perches on lighthouses installed.

1922 Importation of Plumage (Prohibition) Act, passed in 1921, comes into force on 1 April, the culmination of the RSPB's original raison d'être.
W H Hudson dies on 18 August, naming the Society as high residuary legatee.

1923 April: offices move to 82 Victoria Street.

1930 The purchase of Cheyne Court, Romney Marsh, announced, the RSPB's first nature reserve. The first land bought was an 18-acre meadow in 1928. The whole reserve was sold in 1950, because drainage of surrounding land had caused it to lose its original attraction for birds.

1931 RSPB prosecutes an oil company for allowing oil to escape from their vessel near Skokholm off the Welsh coast: fined £25.
Wild Birds Protection Legislation (N Ireland)

1932 Dungeness and East Wood reserves announced (though land obtained at both in 1930) - the RSPB's oldest extant nature reserves.

1933 Protection of Birds Act passed, concerning trade in and taking of wild birds for aviculture. Came into force 17 May 1934.

1936 R Preston Donaldson appointed Secretary.

1943 Junior Bird Recorder's Club (JBRC) founded.

1947 Minsmere becomes reserve.
Avocets breed at Havergate and Minsmere.
Membership sub increases to ten shillings, the first rise since 1904.
Fellow's sub remains at one guinea.
Bird Notes and News title changes to Bird Notes.
First JBRC Conference.

1948 Rewards Scheme adopted by RSPB (from British Ornithologists' Club). Rewards were given to people who could verify young had flown from the nests of the following rare species: golden eagle, hen harrier, marsh harrier, avocet, spoonbill, black tern, red kite, white-tailed eagle, honey buzzard, osprey, golden oriole and hoopoe.
Grassholm becomes the first reserve in Wales.

1949 Havergate becomes reserve.

1950 Colour film of Minsmere and Havergate reserves made for the Society.

1952 Philip Brown appointed Secretary.
Film Unit formed. Black-tailed godwits breed again at Ouse Washes.

1953 March: offices move to 25 Eccleston Square.
First Bird Notes cover by C F Tunnicliffe

1954 Protection of Birds Act.
First Scottish representative, George Waterston, appointed, though not employed until 1959.
Duchess of Portland dies (President since 1891).

1955 Avocet approved by October meeting of Council as a symbol on the RSPB's new tie - the first use of this symbol.

1957 Fellow's sub increases to two guineas, member's to one guinea.

1959 Osprey hide at Loch Garten opens to public: 14,000 visitors in six to seven weeks.

1960 Membership breaks 10,000 barrier.
Joint Committee of the BTO and the RSPB on Toxic Chemicals formed in August.
Duke of Edinburgh visits Havergate Island.

1961 Offices move to The Lodge, Sandy.
Duke of Edinburgh visits Minsmere and Havergate Island (again).

1962 Education Officer appointed.

1963 Peter Conder appointed Secretary.

1964 Title of Secretary changed to Director.
Reserves Manager and the first Research Biologist appointed.
Bird and Tree competition terminated.

1965 Young Ornithologists' Club (YOC) launched (formerly the JBRC), together with its magazine Bird Life.

1966 Adult membership magazine title changes to Birds.
Fellow's sub increases to three guineas, member's to one-and-a-half guineas.
Beached Bird Survey starts.

1967 Launch of a £100,000 appeal to raise money for the purchase of Vane Farm, Gwenffrwd and Ynys-hir reserves.
Torrey Canyon oilspill.

1968 Following the establishment of Charities Commission, RSPB becomes a registered charity on 29 March.

1969 Appeal reaches target.
Membership breaks 50,000 barrier.
First RSPB members' group established - Epping Forest

1970 New RSPB logo, incorporating the avocet.

1971Wales regional office established.

1972 Membership breaks 100,000 barrier in October.

1975/76 Membership breaks 200,000 barrier.

1975/77 £1 million Save a Place for Birds Appeal.

1976 Ian Prestt appointed as Director.

1979/80 Membership breaks 300,000 barrier.

1979 RSPB receives the Diploma of the Council of Europe for Minsmere reserve.
First Big Garden Birdwatch takes place.

1980 YOC membership reaches 100,000 in February.

1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act passed.

1982/85 Woodland Bird Survival Campaign, a £1 million appeal.

1984 100th reserve acquired at Wood of Cree.

1985 March: The Eric Morecambe Memorial Appeal launched.
Old Hall Marshes purchased, the RSPB's single costliest purchase so far at £780,000.

1986 Membership breaks 400,000 barrier.

1988 Abernethy bought for £1.8 million. Largest ever land purchase in Europe by a voluntary conservation organisation.

1989 RSPB celebrates its centenary.
Membership breaks 500,000 barrier.
Red kite re-introduction project starts in England and Scotland.

1991 Barbara Young appointed as Chief Executive.

1992 Ramsey Island purchased.
Million Image Appeal as part of the Campaign for the Countryside.
Ban the Wild Bird Trade Campaign continues.
Countryside Campaign launched to combat wild bird decline through agricultural changes.

1993 RSPB becomes a Partner of BirdLife International, the global partnership formed to join bird and conservation organisations worldwide.

1994 Membership reaches 860,000.
Marine Life Campaign launched.
Julian Pettifer appointed RSPB President.

1995 Launch of RSPB Phoenix for teenage members of the RSPB.
Forsinard reserve purchased in the Highlands of Scotland, protecting 7,127 ha (17,600 acres) of flow country.

1996 Membership reaches 925,000.
Launch of the Million Member Campaign to try to reach a membership of 1,000,000.
Sir David Attenborough appointed as one of the RSPB's Vice Presidents.
Lakenheath reserve purchased to return an area of carrot fields into important reedbeds. Area = 242 ha (598 acres).

1997 RSPB Phoenix reaches 38,000 teenage members.
Corrimony reserve purchased in Scotland with aim to regenerate a large area of Caledonian pinewood. Area = 1,532ha (3782acres).
Otmoor reserve purchased to turn 106 hectares (263 acres) of Oxfordshire fields into a mixture of wet grassland and reedbed.
Barbara Young was made Baroness and appointed as a working life peer.
RSPB reaches 1 million members in early September.

1998 Barbara Young resigns to head English Nature.
Graham Wynne appointed as Chief Executive.
Launch of Land for Life campaign calling for better legal protection for wildlife.
RSPB launches web site

1999 Legislation protecting important wildlife sites is included in the Queen's Speech.
RSPB and others successfully influence the content of the national curriculum in England and Wales.
Seabird 2000 begins.
Webcams are set up at Loch Garten and South Stack reserves.
Lead shot ban in England.

2000 Rainham Marshes purchase - 352 hectares (870 acres) of grazing marsh on the Greater London/Essex border.
Purchase of Hope Farm.
YOC renamed Wildlife Explorers.
Petition to secure European bird protection laws became the largest conservation petition ever presented to EU Commission. It contained over 2 million signatures, of which 521,000 were collected by the RSPB.

2001 Big Garden Birdwatch became the biggest bird survey ever undertaken in the UK with more than 29,000 contributors.
Ospreys breed in England for the first time in 150 years - nests in Cumbria and Rutland.
All RSPB reserves were closed, for the first time in the history of the Society, as a response to the foot & mouth epidemic.
Brading Marsh becomes the first RSPB reserve on the Isle of Wight.
Jonathan Dimbleby appointed president of RSPB.
First custodial sentence for wildlife offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

2002 Mull of Oa (1800 ha) and Revack Forest (800 ha) reserves purchased.
Bee-eaters breed in the UK, in County Durham, for the first time since 1955.
Choughs breed in England for the first time in 50 years - nesting in Cornwall.
Historic public enquiry at Holton Heath.
A proposal to put an airport at Cliffe in north Kent threatens to obliterate an internationally important area for birds and seven RSPB reserves, including Northward Hill. RSPB embarks on the largest habitat protection campaign it has undertaken.
Habitat recreation projects at Freiston Shore and Tilford.
RSPB garden at Chelsea Flower Show receives a Silver Gilt medal.

2003 60 years of RSPB junior membership.
Campaign against an airport at Cliffe is won. 
Graham Wynne receives a CBE and Stuart Housden (Director of RSPB Scotland) receives an OBE.

2004 RSPB Scotland celebrates its centenary.
50th anniversary of return of ospreys to Loch Garten. Ospreys breed in Wales for the first time.
25 years of Big Garden Birdwatch -  the biggest Birdwatch in the world with 420,000 participants.
Over 1,000 red kites fledged from nests across Britain.
25 years of EU Birds Directive, on which our wildlife laws are based.
Launch of Marine Campaign for improved legal protection for seas around the British Isles.
Corncrakes breed for the first time at Nene Washes in England following re-introduction.
Julian Pettifer appointed president of RSPB.

2005 RSPB garden at Chelsea Flower Show receives a silver medal.
RSPB's Aren't Birds Brilliant! scheme is visited by nearly half a million people at 40 different locations.
Save the Albatross campaign is adopted by the Volvo Ocean Race - the first tie up between an international conservation effort and a global sporting event.
RSPB's volunteer numbers reach 9,000.

2006 Highest ever participation in BGBW at 480,000.
First Albatross Task Force members recruited and start work showing fishermen how to fish in seabird-friendly ways in the Southern Ocean.

2007 Sutton Fen became the 200th RSPB reserve.
RSPB and BirdLife campaign successfully to ban imports of wild birds into the UK – something the RSPB has campaigned for since the 1980s. Ban extends to all 27 EU countries.
The use of diclofenac to treat cattle in India was banned. RSPB research showed that this veterinary drug brought about the collapse of the vulture population in India, which had many ecological and human knock-on effects.
The RSPB and our BirdLife partner in Indonesia acquired the logging rights to Harapan rainforest in Sumatra. This will protect an important piece of rainforest and its biodiversity.
Wildlife Explorers membership reaches 170,000.
Cranes nest at Lakenheath.