Scope and Content

Consists of National Test administrative files 1920's-1965; administrative files relating to premises 1965; correspondence 1952-1982; correspondence with the press 1953-1965; maps [post 1920]-1936; records of tests 1897-1964; technical reference material 1953-1964; press cuttings 1937-1963; individual advertising publications [1930's]-[1960's]; house journal 1964; photograph albums 1920s-1930's; files of photographs recording individual tests 1955-1964; files of test site photographs 1930s-1964; files of miscellaneous photographs 1899-1964; collection of (mostly) mounted and captioned prints 1919-1960s; file relating to Poultry and Egg Producers Association Award to A. Denby Wilkinson 1962; autobiographical manuscript by A. Denby Wilkinson 1990

Administrative / Biographical History

The National Poultry Test was founded, as the National Egg Laying Test, in 1917 by the National Utility Poultry Society in conjunction with the Great Eastern Railway Co, originating at the GER farm at Dodnash Priory, Bentley, Suffolk under the management of J.N. Leigh. The first Daily Mail Laying Test ran from 1st October 1919 to 31st January 1920, also managed by J.N. Leigh. These two Tests amalgamated in 1926-27, and in 1927-28 the Test moved to a larger test ground at Milford, Enton, Surrey. Railway interest in the Test ceased, but support continued from the Daily Mail, presenting the Championship Gold Cup (first presented 1923-24) and the Two Year Test Trophy. National Laying Test Ltd was formed [before 1952] to carry on the Test. Initially operating a comprehensive stock testing programme concerned with pedigree birds, the Tests expanded to include Commercial Random Sample Tests, Broiler Tests and Breeding Research (Random Sample) Tests (concerned with new composite breeds and hybrids), introduced between 1952 and 1957. From the early 1960s interest shifted from conducting laying tests in small unit houses to modern intensive houses.

Arthur Denby Wilkinson was appointed Test Manager 16th September 1952 and held the post until 1965. Previous posts had included that of Manager of Robert Brown's breeding and commercial egg farm at Aldbourne, Hassocks; Poultry Manager on O.A. Batten's Sussex farm; Assistant Manager of White Lady Poultry Farm, Bray, Berks; Assistant to Keith Wilson, Senior Technical Officer of the Land Settlement Association; Manager of Herbert Smith's accredited farm, Hastings.


  • FR DW/AD2/1-13 National Test administrative files
  • FR DW/AD4/1-2 Administrative files relating to premises
  • FR DW/AD8/1-7 Correspondence
  • FR DW/AD8/8-14 Correspondence with the press
  • FR DW/DO1/1-4 Maps
  • FR DW/ET1/1-59 Records of Tests
  • FR DW/ET3/1-7 Technical reference material
  • FR DW/ET3/8-11 Press cuttings
  • FR DW/P2/B1-13 Individual advertising publications
  • FR DW/P4/B1 House journal
  • FR DW/PH2/1-3 Photograph albums
  • FR DW/PH3/1-29 Files of photographs recording individual Tests
  • FR DW/PH3/30-37 Files of Test site photographs
  • FR DW/PH3/38-64 Files of miscellaneous photographs
  • FR DW/PH3/65-72 Collection of (mostly) mounted and captioned prints
  • FR DW/SP2/1 File relating to Poultry and Egg Producers Association Award to A. Denby Wilkinson
  • FR DW/SP4/1 Autobiographical manuscript by A. Denby Wilkinson

Access Information

Available for consultation

Acquisition Information

Accession No: DX89


Compiled by Zoe Watson, June 2004

Other Finding Aids

A detailed catalogue is available at the Museum of English Rural Life

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