The Lille Collection of Preserved Breeds

Breeds From Around The World

The Lille Collection of Preserved Breeds

By Stuart Sutton, England


The Collection of preserved poultry of the Natural History Museum of Lille is one of the best kept, largest and most interesting in Europe and dates back to 1823 when the oldest specimen was bequeathed as part of a collection from Mr. Macquart, one of the founders of the museum.

In 1854 the catalogue listed a further 19 specimens donated from regional breeders of poultry, the “Jardin d’Acclimatation de Paris” and from the Museum of Paris. However, it is not until the beginning of the 20th century that the Lille Collection expanded, as 75 percent of the current collection was donated between 1895 and 1930, mainly thanks to Mr. Alexandre Detroy, who supplied 142 specimens.

Alexandre Detroy was one of founder members of the new “Société des Aviculteurs du Nord” (Society of the Poultry farmers of the North) created in 1891. He was also an esteemed poultry judge and wrote many articles in “Chasse et Pêche” (Hunting and Fishing), “Acclimatation” and “Revue Cynégétique et Sportive” (Hunting and Sporting Review).

By 1925, he was one of the originators of the creation of de “la Basse Cour Familiale de Lille” (The Family Farmyard of Lille), a society of poultry farming, the purpose of which was to promote the breeding of poultry and other farm animals, especially in the working classes.

With his dynamic personality, he created the new company because he was aware that poultry farming, as practiced then, had not really changed since An-glo-Saxon times in regard to cock fighting but practical poultry keeping was being sadly neglected. Just like the concept of the Allotment that another local personality (Abbot Lemire) had helped develop, the farmyard had a  double social vocation, in that it helped the working class families meet their needs of both eggs and meat while providing them with an activity which diverted them from the social unrest. This caused a small revolution in poultry, which until then had been in the hands of the bourgeois and industrial classes.

Under Alexandre Detroy’s energetic leadership, the “BCF” (The Family Farmyard) and therefore poultry keep-ing in general became very popular and exhibitions were held in Lille at the Palace Rameau. By 1929 after only five years, this exhibition already showed 1,200 animals and was held every first Sunday in February right up to 1992.

Farm visits where contests were held were organized regularly and Mr. Detroy also produced a free monthly magazine for all members combining poultry and gardening tips in an effort to “improve the lives of the working classes.”

At his death, May 15, 1932, Lower Family Court had 2,000 members. Before dying, Alexandre Detroy bequeathed to the Natural History Museum of Lille a collection of rare animals. This was the great time of family farming. At the same time, Mr. Richardson, an Englishman, contributed to the enrichment of collections as the local breeder of English (Sussex, Orpington) and American races (Rhode Is-land), also a Mr. Bury offered Game fowl.

In the 1990s, new contacts with the Poultry Regional Federation Nord-Pas-de-Calais added a new wave of interest poultry.

Acknowledgement and thanks to Muriel Larue-Lecouvez Musee d’Histoire Naturelle Lille, Reinhold Adolphi and Jean Luc Malpeaux. Stuart Sutton offers a photo gallery of domestic poultry breeds mainly in their natural surroundings with an emphasis on the rarer breeds of the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and Holland at All inquiries welcomed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *