Around 1910 Mr Fred Myhill
of Hethel, Wymondam, Norfolk created this handsome heavy soft feather utility
Myhill first showed the birds at the 1920 Dairy Show under the name of 'The Black Maria' after the smoking artillery shells of World War I. Unfortunately the name was likened and mis-pronounced to sound like that of the police vehicles and failed to impress poultry fanciers. Myhill then changed the spelling to 'Marea' which again was not well received.
It is believed that during development, breeds such as the Old English
Game and possibly the Langshan were used, it is also suggested that Leghorns and
Wyandottes may have been in the original make-up. Myhill did not
record the breeds he used although he does mention in an article he wrote in the 1923 Poultry Club yearbook when the breed was originally called The Black Maria " The Black Maria is a medium sized fowl, its shape suggesting ( not confirming) a cross between a Dorking and a Wyandotte".
In 1925 Myhill applied to the Poultry Club of Great Britain to have the breed name changed to Norfolk Grey, as under its current name it was failing to attract the attention of other fanciers and keepers.
This name change did for a
time increase the breeds popularity, but gradually their numbers decreased
and by the 1960's they were thought to be extinct. In 1973 the Reverend Andrew
Bowden and his wife found a trio of these birds at a farm they were
visiting near Banbury and the breed was saved.
Unfortunately by the 1980's
Norfolk Greys were seldom seen until Mr Roland Axman from Norfolk saw a trio
at the Malpas poultry show in Staffordshire. This trio of birds had been bred
by the Reverend Bowden and their current owner sold them to Mr
Axman, who still shows them today.
Today the Norfolk Grey
is registered as a rare breed and monitored by
The Rare Poultry Society.
For a concise and excellent article on the history of the
Norfolk Grey by Mr Frank Bridgland please click on the photo below:
Short History of the Rare Breed Norfolk Grey