|Up until 1990 the Lancashire and Cheshire
Entomological Society (LCES) had always had a Junior section but there
had only been one member for several years and strictly speaking he was
no longer a junior. Looking around at the ages of the senior members it
was apparent that if no effort was made to bring in younger people then
the society, which had thrived since 1887, and through two world wars,
would gradually die.
In 1990 several LCES council members got together to decide a way forward. The adult society now met at Liverpool Museum holding its meetings during the winter months in the Entomology Section; the newly formed Natural History Centre was also interested in the venture. Tom Eccles, a well know North-west Coleopterist, agreed to chair the committee and Jon Delf, who had run a junior bug club in Manchester, moved into the Liverpool area and joined us. During the latter months of 1990 a series of meetings took place to determine how we could best achieve our objectives. For a trial period we agreed to have 3 Winter indoor meetings at the Museum and two summer field meetings.
It was decided to cater for an age range which was as wide as possible, so 7 - 15 was chosen; this then allowing the youngsters to move directly into the senior society on achieving the age of 16. As the thoughts of children attending meetings filled the adults with fear and apprehension we decided to keep the two societies separate, at least until we saw how the experiment was succeeding. We did however, invite the UnderWings to one of the adult field meetings and they (the adults) were astonished at the interest shown by the young people and just how much knowledge they had already gained.
In 1991 the first meetings were held and the numbers were strictly limited to 20 young people as all the specialist facilities of the Museum were to be made available to the UnderWings members and insurance aspects had to be considered. There were far more children wanting to join than there were places available and today, nine years on (2000), some of the founder members are still associated with the society, when exams permit. We are currently able to offer a few places to children in the North West area.
The UnderWings Logo (at the head of this page) was designed in a competition by John Weir, when he was an UnderWing aged 10, and it remains the same today (2000 - John is now 19). The name of the club was chosen by our first Chairman, Tom Eccles, and always seems so relevant/correct as these young people have been extremely fortunate in having the personal attention of a small dedicated band of Entomologists who have given up the first Saturday in the month all through the years to be on hand at the meetings. It must also be noted that without the support of the parents of the UnderWings the club would not have succeeded.
1999, due to the impending complete refurbishment of Liverpool Museum
via an injection of Lottery funding, the UnderWings, and the senior
Society (The Lancashire and Cheshire Entomological Society) were asked
to find another, albeit potentially temporary, home. Halton Borough
Council kindly offered the use of the Spike Island Ranger Centre for
the UnderWings meetings and the Centre is situated next to the Catalyst
Museum in Widnes, Halton, Cheshire. This was gratefully accepted but
it has meant a change, from January 2000, in the type of activities
which can be undertaken by the UnderWings Group as the sophisticated
equipment (microscopes and video projectors, etc.) of the Liverpool
Museum Entomological Section is no longer available.
The UnderWings meetings continue to be held once a month, throughout the year, on the first Saturday of the month, and the UnderWings are also invited to all the field meetings of the adult society (The Lancashire & Cheshire Entomological Society). The Indoor Meetings at Spike Island are held from October to April. The UnderWings vote for the subjects to be studied, covering as wide a range of families as possible. The outdoor field meetings, held from May to September, are chosen to show as broad a range of habitats, and consequently of species and interactions, as is possible.
The OBJECTIVE we originally set ourselves was: to encourage and help
young people with a genuine interest in insects to widen their knowledge
by offering personal guidance for their future studies of this group
of invertebrates. This has been extended slightly during the years to
cover all invertebrates. The leaders and the UnderWings
Committee are attempting to maintain the high standard during this
period of reduced facilities and are looking forward to the next season,
and onward through the new Millennium. Come and join us and have fun
with things with more than four legs!
As at the 1st January 2002 - The UnderWings is temporarily suspended due to a combination of pressure of work on those who run the group and lack of available accommodation at Liverpool Museum during the final stages of its refurbishment. The situation will be reviewed towards the end of August 2002 - for further information please contact the Membership Secretary as per below.
Membership Secretary: Julia Hancell, 4 Priory Close, Halton,
Runcorn, Cheshire, WA7 2BN