Looking back on correspondence from that difficult time, it is still unclear as to the exact status of CPL Chelmsford. The terms Group and Branch were being used almost interchangeably and much of the time the issue was neatly sidestepped by not using either term! The fact that some of the members of the Chelmsford Branch had left in order to join 'Catkins' made it hard to see where CPL Chelmsford ended and 'Catkins' began. In June 1978 Major Garforth wrote to advise Chelmsford CPL that the Executive Committee of the CPL had confirmed that Chelmsford CPL should be classified a Branch rather than a Group.
BRIEF HISTORY OF CHELMSFORD CATS PROTECTION (LEAGUE)
A number of cats, including some of the 'Pontlands ferals' (the original colony numbered 200) were moved hastily to the incomplete 'Catkins' as the deadline for the closure of Watchouse Road approached. However, by October 1975, the financial situation had worsened with mounting bills. It soon became evident that CPL Chelmsford would not be able to afford the cost of modifications, extension and upkeep of the bungalow, nor the salary of the warden, and consequently HQ agreed to take over the responsibility for 'Catkins', thereby relieving the Chelmsford Branch of the expenses.
Poppy was a very lucky lass and landed on her feet
With closure of Watchouse Road imminent and 70 cats still in care there, the future looked bleak for the Chelmsford CPL. 30 of the cats were elderly unhomeables and these were moved to Basildon with Audrey Skennerton and to Great Tey with Audrey Parsonson where they were maintained by sponsorship. In view of the urgent need to close the Watchouse Road Shelter, a frantic search was made for new premises. The Branch was in dire financial straits and Jean Middlemiss resorted to selling plants from her garden wall to raise money for the cats. Watchouse Road no longer had permission to operate as a cattery, but there was nowhere for the remaining cats to go while they awaited homes and so the Branch risked the wrath of the neighbours and the authorities while it searched for somewhere to go.
Has gone to her forever home with a wonderful couple, Hannah & James
When I worked as a volunteer, I found that visitors to Chelmsford Cats Protection's rescue shelter and fundraising events often asked how the Chelmsford and District Group of the Cats Protection League came into existence. The story of the Group had been told in snatches in old newsletters and regular reports in the CPL Headquarters publication THE CAT, but until this 1993 "history" there had been no definitive history of the Group. This history was originally produced (as an official history) in 1993 to celebrate the 30th birthday of Chelmsford Cats Protection (formerly Chelmsford Cats Protection League) and was also provided to Cats Protection HQ for the files. In 2000, a few updates were made to this introduction and to the last part of the history covering the period after 1993, but otherwise this article remains unchanged.In November 1968, Chelmsford CPL achieved short-lived fame as the result of a chance comment to a local newspaper. Suddenly the Branch found itself featured on Anglia TV as "having 200 cats in a cattery, costing £200 a month to keep and destined to be put to sleep within the first fortnight". An article in the Daily Sketch gave the more realistic figure of 50 cats being boarded. As a result, several cats were homed and a number of donations arrived. None of the cats were in actual danger of being put to sleep, although bills were crippling.