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Veterinary History
A brief history of the BVA
  1. Edward Boden, MBE, HonAssocRCVS, MRPharmS
  1. 11 Elletson Street, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire FY6 7AE
  1. e-mail: tedboden{at}

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2011 marks the 250th anniversary of the founding of the modern veterinary profession with the establishment of the world's first veterinary school at Lyon, France. It is also the 130th anniversary of a proposal that led to the formation of what is now known as the British Veterinary Association. Here, Edward Boden, a former editor of The Veterinary Record, traces the history of the Association from its foundation to the present day

JUST 130 years ago, the idea that sparked the formation of the British Veterinary Association formed in the mind of a young Cambridge vet. That man (all vets were men in those days) was George Amos Banham, an inspirational individual newly established in practice. Banham was a man of immense energy and inquiring mind. After qualifying from the Royal Veterinary College, he had studied veterinary science in Berlin, then the world leader in the biological sciences, and worked in a pioneering public veterinary laboratory in London.

He was spurred into action after a visit to the British Medical Association's (BMA's) annual conference at Cambridge in 1880, which he attended because of a shared interest, or perhaps rivalry, between vets and medics in public health matters, particularly meat hygiene. The result was a national veterinary congress in London in 1881, at which Banham presented a paper, ‘A scheme for forming a British National Veterinary Association’. There was a feeling that a national association of veterinary surgeons could bring to the profession some of the advantages of being able to speak with one voice that medical practitioners had gained through the BMA.

The idea was greeted with enthusiasm both by colleagues and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), and Banham was appointed joint honorary secretary; in fact, he was effectively the sole secretary. The first annual meeting was …

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