Leonard R. Tesch

Leonard Tesch (centre) at Broadwater Down, Kent, with members of Tonbridge School Natural History Society in the summer of 1955. Photograph courtesy of Martin Jacoby.

Leonard Tesch (centre) at Broadwater Down, Kent, with members of Tonbridge School Natural History Society in the summer of 1955.
Photograph courtesy of Martin Jacoby.

Leonard Tesch founded the AES in 1935 when it was originally called The Entomological Exchange & Correspondence Club. The first Journal (No.1) was issued in August 1935 to the Club's five members with Leonard Tesch as Honorary Secretary, making six in total.

His early recollections of becoming interested in entomology were at the age of 5 catching flies on a window and examining them with a small reading glass. Through school years, and later, he took an increasing interest in invertebrate zoology in general and insect life in particular. The many difficulties he experienced in breeding insects were not covered in the available text books, so he decided that contact with other entomologists to share information and experiences would be desirable. An advertisement was placed in Exchange & Mart and our Society was born.

By July 1936 ten Journals had been issued - each comprising an introductory letter and sections entitled 'Notes', 'Queries' and 'Answers' and 'Exchange & Wanted'. The latter Journals also included a List of Members which, through his hard work, had risen to 39.

The Journals had been produced and financed single-handedly by Tesch, but in 1936 his business failed and to avoid unemployment he was forced to seek alternative work. This resulted in his having to relinquish all duties involved with the Club, however he did remain as an ordinary member.

His new employment took him away from London and was so intensive he was forced to give up all entomological activities. In 1937 it was proposed that he should be appointed as President or Chairman of the Club, but he declined. However, in January 1939 he was elected as first President of the newly named Amateur Entomologists' Society. The Office of President was suspended for the period 1939-1945 under the Wartime Constitution and after the war he was re-elected President for the year 1946-1947. In 1950 he served on the Council and in 1952 he became a trustee of the Society.

Sadly little is known about our founder apart from a few snippets contained in his writing in the early Journals. His work was in an office related capacity and the July 1939 Membership List shows him as having membership No.1 and his address as The Estate Office, Whaddon, Bletchley, Bucks. The Membership List for July 1951 lists his address as 37 Watts Avenue, Rochester, Kent and a year later his address in the July 1952 Membership List is given as Kings School, Rochester, Kent. However, in our Bulletin No. 265 Vol.23 dated November 1964 he is recorded as having changed his address to 11 Woodlands Drive, Old Cotton, Norwich, Norfolk.

Without Leonard Tesch, the AES would not exist and a fitting tribute to him was made in our 1985 Golden Jubilee reprint, by our then editor Brian Gardiner, when our founder the late L.R. Tesch 'laid the egg' half a century ago, he little realised that today his offspring would be one of the largest and most vigorous Entomological Societies in the World.

The Society holds the Leonard Tesch Lecture annually at the AES AGM and Members' Day. The Tesch Award was an annual award for the best Junior Exhibit in the Northern Exhibition.