The current British Cactus and Succulent Society was formed at the beginning of 1983 by the amalgamation of the two former societies, The National Cactus and Succulent Society (1945-1982) and The Cactus and Succulent Society of Great Britain (1932-1982). It is a registered, gift-aided charity.

The Cactus Journal t.p thumbnail 1946 (Mar) Yorkshire Cactus Journal thumbnail
 1. Title page of The Cactus Journal (1932-34).  2. Title page of The Yorkshire Cactus Journal (1946)

The old 'GB Society', as it was affectionately referred to, began in the midst of the Great Depression years as an affiliate of the Royal Horticultural Society. It held its early meetings and kept a modest library in a room at the RHS Hall in London. The principal driving force behind it was Mrs. Vera Higgins (1892-1962), the first editor of its journal for the seven years leading up to WW2. During the war years, she edited the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society, and was awarded a Victoria Medal of Honour in 1946.

As Britain emerged from a postwar period of austerity in 1945, it was at first looking as though the GB Society was not going to survive. So a small group of Yorkshire stalwarts, led by the Bradford mill owner Herbert Michael Roan (1909-2003), formed The Yorkshire Cactus Society, publishing what was at that time a very high quality journal from March 1946. By the start of the following year, it had flourished so well that it became a national institution and was renamed as The National Cactus and Succulent Society. 


3. Mrs. Vera Higgins (1949).              4. Michael Roan (c.1949) in his Bradford greenhouse.
3. Mrs. Vera Higgins (1949). 4. Michael Roan (c.1949) in his Bradford greenhouse.


Meanwhile, perhaps spurred into action by this new rival upstart, The Cactus and Succulent Society of Great Britain was reformed and began republishing its journal in July 1946. But it was too late! The new 'National' society produced a journal to a higher standard and therefore came to take the dominant position from then onwards. Mrs. Vera Higgins spotted the winner in this race and accepted the position of President of The National Cactus and Succulent Society from 1949 till 1962. Although these two societies remained in amicable competition with each other, and many members belonged to both, The Cactus and Succulent Society of Great Britain never really thrived well. Indeed, it was almost on the point of failing when David Hunt (1938- ) became the new editor of its journal in 1976, and he managed to restore some of the lost support by steadily improving the journal with some new innovations.

The uneasy coalition of the two rival societies in 1983 was not at first without its stresses and strains, but it soon became accepted and welcomed by all, taking its rightful place as a world class organisation, respected everywhere.