Dr David Ford looks back on 30 years of the Festival of Fishkeeping.
The last Festival of Fishkeeping, plastics in UK estuary-caught fish, and the discovery of a fossilised fish with real bite.
HE FEDERATION of British Aquatic Societies (FBAS) celebrates its 80th anniversary this year. Thirty years ago FBAS started to mark the end of its season of Petfish Club Shows with a weekend festival. This started life as Fishworld, but proved so successful that it became the annual Festival of Fishkeeping.
Over the years, the festival took place everywhere from London to Manchester, but its most successful period was in the 1990s with weekend shows at seaside holiday camps including Sandy Bay in Weston-super-mare, Bracklesham Bay Holiday Centre in West Sussex, and Mill Rythe Holiday Village on Hayling Island.
Aquarist & Pondkeeper magazine was the original main sponsor of the festival, but when that title folded, Practical Fishkeeping took over.
For the last six years the festival has been held at Hounslow Urban Farm in Feltham, Middlesex. With three marquees of tanks, clubs, manufacturers and competitions, the festival here initially proved a success, but over the following years attendance gradually faded.
The absence of a social event, as seen at the holiday camps, was viewed as one contributory factor, but also the cost of travel and, of course, the closing of so many local clubs as everyone turns to the internet for fishkeeping advice.
No longer viable, the committee decided that 2018 would be the last Festival of Fishkeeping. With just two marquees, it was a rather sad affair with lots of reminiscing and farewell speeches. The festival was home to the British Open Competition, open to all aquarists, and the FBAS Supreme Final where federation members compete. Classes include Best Pairs, Best Breeder, the Betta Competition, and in recent years, the popular Diamond Class where FBAS clubs choose their fish of the year to compete.
FBAS chairman Keith Cocker said these popular events must continue and a special AGM will be held soon to decide how this will be done.
And so, end of an era. Never again will the fish and their owners be silenced by the roar of planes landing next door at Heathrow every two minutes!
Handed over for the final time!
The first festival guide, 1988.
Trade stands galore.