Primley Blues Part 2
In wartime 1915, despite deleted staff and reduced rations, the ´Poultry World´ correspondent, P Fletcher Hearnshaw, was enthusing over Whitley´s surprise packet of blue Pekin, Rosecomb and Wyandotte bantams, also stealing a preview of his latest novelties the Blue Barbu d´Anvers and especially charming Blue Silkies. As with the pigeons, Whitley´s spectacular range of old and new breeds was to become an out of the ordinary and educative attraction at the Zoo for some years
Thus in less than ten years the Whitley vision of a livestock ´supermarket´ had materialised, and specialist breed papers throughout the land carried impressive display advertisements for Primley, offering to deliver multibreed prize winning stock to practically anywhere in the world.
In the twenties the Primley Poultry Farm really came to life. The discerning owner, who invariably chose his stockmen from the North, had followed the prowess of one Billy Wilkinson, whose straggly moustache and lugubrious countenance could have been a model for Bairnsfather´s immortal caricatures of trench life in the First World War. ´Old´ Billy was soon joined by Billy Junior, whose perpetual cough was a legacy of tough days in the mines and World War One´s gas warfare. Between them they formed with Whitley what was described as a combination of ´Brass and Brains´. Soon the ´Wilkies´ were firmly established with over forty varieties of sitting eggs on offer to eager buyers from home and abroad. All this was evidence of Whitley´s determination first to improve and then redistribute livestock worthy of the British breeders.
By knowledgeable crossing and re-crossing of basic stock, this formidable alliance even reconstituted the, extinct breed of Golden Spangled Hamburghs. But the inescapable ´blue´ was always a priority and there was much huffing and puffing in the Council Room of that august body, the Poultry Club, when Billy and Co presented their new breed of feather footed Blue Cochins. While the Club were still clucking as to the breed´s eligibility, the lovely Cochins were stopping the show, stealing the limelight on the front page of ´Poultry´, and attracting buyers world wide. Such fame was surely their due for it was the Cochin that had triggered off ´The Great Chicken Craze´ following their acceptance by Queen Victoria in 1843 as a gift from the Far East.