Tibs the Great

Last updated

Tibs the Great
Tibs the Great.jpg
Other name(s)Tibs
Species Cat
Sex Male
BornNovember 1950
DiedDecember 1964
London, England
Occupation British Post Office's "number one cat"
Years active1950–1964
OwnerAlf Talbut

Tibs the Great (November 1950 – December 1964) was the British Post Office's "number one cat" and kept the post office headquarters in London completely mouse-free during his 14 years of service. He was the son of Minnie, and on his death, several newspapers ran an obituary.

Contents

Background

Cats had been officially employed by the Post Office to catch rodents since September 1868, when three cats were taken on for a six-month trial period at a rate of one shilling per week, in the London Money Order Office. [1] On 7 May 1869, it was noted that "the cats have done their duty very efficiently". [2] By 1873, the cats were being paid 1s 6d, and cats were being employed in other post offices. [1]

Early life

It is thought that Tibs was born in London in November 1950. [3] His father is unknown. His mother was Minnie, another "fine cat". [4]

Career

Tibs worked at Post Office Headquarters in London for 14 years, and was officially employed and paid 2s 6d per week. He worked in the basement. He was cared for by Alf Talbut, cleaner at the church of St. Martin's Le Grand, who had also owned his mother, Minnie. [4] During his 14 years, Tibs kept the Post Office headquarters completely free of mice. [1]

In 1952 there was "public outrage" that the cats had not had a pay rise since 1873, and the next year there was a question in the House of Commons, asking the Assistant Postmaster-General, David Gammans, "when the allowance payable for the maintenance of cats in his department was last raised?" [1]

Gammans replied, [1]

There is, I am afraid, a certain amount of industrial chaos in the Post Office cat world. Allowances vary in different places, possibly according to the alleged efficiency of the animals and other factors. It has proved impossible to organise any scheme for payment by results or output bonus. These servants of the State are, however, frequently unreliable, capricious in their duties and liable to prolonged absenteeism. My hon. and gallant Friend has been misinformed regarding the differences between rates for cats in Northern Ireland and other parts of the United Kingdom. There are no Post Office cats in Northern Ireland. Except for the cats at Post Office Headquarters who got the special allowance a few years ago, presumably for prestige reasons, there has been a general wage freeze since July, 1918, but there have been no complaints! [5]

He also hastened to assure the House that Post Office cats had "an adequate maternity service", and that equal pay prevailed in the group. [5]

In media

In 1953, Tibs was featured in a book titled Cockney Cats by Warren Tute and Felix Fonteyn. He also appeared at a "Cats and Film Stars" party. [4]

Death

Tibs died in December 1964. He had been suffering from oral cancer. He received obituaries in several newspapers. By the time of his death he had grown to 23lb in weight, probably due to living in one of the staff dining rooms, rather than from eating rats. [3] [4] [6] [7]

The last cat employed at Post Office headquarters was Blackie, who died in 1984, which coincided with cloth sacks being replaced with rodent-resistant plastic sacks. [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Felix the Cat</i> Fictional cat from cartoons

Felix the Cat is a funny-animal cartoon character created in the silent film era. The anthropomorphic black cat with his black body, white eyes, and giant grin, coupled with the surrealism of the situations in which his cartoons place him, combine to make Felix one of the most recognized cartoon characters in film history. Felix was the first character from animation to attain a level of popularity sufficient to draw movie audiences.

Derek Leslie Conway TD is an English politician and television presenter. A member of the Conservative Party, Conway served as a Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Shrewsbury and Atcham from 1983 to 1997, and Old Bexley and Sidcup from 2001 to 2010. He is currently a presenter of Epilogue, a book review programme on Press TV, an English-language international television news channel funded by the Iranian government.

Margot Fonteyn English ballerina

Margaret Evelyn de Arias DBE, born Margaret Evelyn Hookham, known by the stage name Margot Fonteyn, was an English ballerina. She spent her entire career as a dancer with the Royal Ballet, eventually being appointed prima ballerina assoluta of the company by Queen Elizabeth II. Beginning ballet lessons at the age of four, she studied in England and China, where her father was transferred for his work. Her training in Shanghai was with George Goncharov, contributing to her continuing interest in Russian ballet. Returning to London at the age of 14, she was invited to join the Vic-Wells Ballet School by Ninette de Valois. She succeeded Alicia Markova as prima ballerina of the company in 1935. The Vic-Wells choreographer, Sir Frederick Ashton, wrote numerous parts for Fonteyn and her partner, Robert Helpmann, with whom she danced from the 1930s to the 1940s.

The Royal Ballet ballet company in the United Kingdom

The Royal Ballet is an internationally renowned classical ballet company, based at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London, England. The largest of the five major ballet companies in Great Britain, the Royal Ballet was founded in 1931 by Dame Ninette de Valois, it became the resident ballet company of the Royal Opera House in 1946 and was granted a royal charter in 1956, becoming recognised as Britain's flagship ballet company.

Steve Harley British singer

Steve Harley is an English singer and songwriter, best known as frontman of the rock group Cockney Rebel, with whom he still tours.

Joseph "Joe" Oriolo was an American cartoon animator, writer, director and producer, known as the co-creator of Casper the Friendly Ghost and the creator of the Felix the Cat TV series.

Wilberforce was a cat who lived at 10 Downing Street between 1973 and May 18, 1986 and served under four British Prime Ministers: Edward Heath, Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher. His chief function was to catch mice, in which role he was the successor to Peta. In life he had been referred to as "the best mouser in Britain", as befitted his role.

Parliament Hill cat colony

The Parliament Hill cat colony was a clowder of stray cats living on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, in a cat sanctuary set aside for them. The care of the cats and maintenance of the sanctuary was carried out by volunteers, and the effort was funded by donations. The colony was closed in January 2013 after the remaining cats were adopted into homes.

Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) 1975 single by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel

"Make Me Smile " is a song by the British rock band Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, released as the lead single from the band's 1975 album The Best Years of Our Lives. It was written by Harley, and produced by Harley and Alan Parsons. In February 1975, the song reached number-one on the UK chart and received a UK Silver certification. It spent nine weeks in the Top 50, and as of 2015, has sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide.

Sir Leonard David Gammans, 1st Baronet, known as David Gammans, was a British Conservative Party politician.

Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office Office held by a cat at 10 Downing Street

The Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office is the title of the official resident cat of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at 10 Downing Street. There has been a resident cat in the English government employed as a mouser and pet since the 1500s, although modern records date only to the 1920s. Though other cats have served Downing Street the first one to be given the official title of Chief Mouser by HM Government is Larry in 2011. Other cats have been given this title affectionately, usually by the British press. In 2004 a study was done showing that voters' perceptions of the Chief Mouser were not completely above partisanship.

Charleston Hughes is a professional Canadian football defensive lineman for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. He was signed by the Calgary Stampeders as a street free agent in 2008 and won two Grey Cup championships over his ten-year tenure with the club. He is a five-time CFL All-Star and seven-time division All-Star. He was also named the West Division's Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2013. He played college football for Northwood. Hughes has also been a member of the Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) and briefly the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Royal Ballet production of Sergei Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet premiered at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden on 9 February 1965.

Larry (cat) eleventh Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, currently in office

Larry is a cat who has served as Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office at 10 Downing Street since 2011. He is a brown-and-white tabby, believed to have been born in January 2007. By July 2016, when Theresa May became prime minister, he had developed a reputation of being "violent" in his interactions with other local mousers, especially the Foreign Office's much younger cat Palmerston.

Sebastian (song) song by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel

"Sebastian" is a song by the British rock band Cockney Rebel, fronted by Steve Harley. It was released as the band's debut single in 1973 from their album The Human Menagerie. The song was written by Harley and produced by Neil Harrison.

Hideaway (Cockney Rebel song) 1974 song by Cockney Rebel

"Hideaway" is a song by the British rock band Cockney Rebel, fronted by Steve Harley. Released as the opening track on the band's 1973 debut album The Human Menagerie, "Hideaway" was released in 1974 as a single in Denmark only. It was written by Harley and produced by Neil Harrison.

"The Best Years of Our Lives" is a song by the British rock band Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, released in 1975 as the title track from the band's third studio album The Best Years of Our Lives. In 1977, a live version of the song was released as a single from the album Face to Face: A Live Recording.

The Museum Press was a British non-fiction publisher, based in London, that was active in the post-Second World War period up to the 1960s.

Peter was the second Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office of the United Kingdom government, serving between 1929 and 1946. Peter is often regarded as being the first to hold the position, as his predecessor, Treasury Bill, held the role for less than a year, and does not appear to have been officially given the title.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 #MuseumCats Day: "Industrial chaos in the Post Office cat world". The British Postal Museum & Archive, 30 July 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  2. 1 2 QI: quite interesting facts about keeping in touch. Molly Oldfield and John Mitchinson, The Telegraph , 7 December 2009. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  3. 1 2 Royal Mail 'secret' railway on track to reopen next year. Maev Kennedy, The Guardian , 4 February 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Tibs the Great is no more". Post Office Magazine, January 1965. Celebrating 500 Years of Royal Mail. royalmailgroup.com Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  5. 1 2 "Cats (Maintenance Allowances)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) . 513. House of Commons. 18 March 1953. col. 4–5.
  6. A Brief History of Post Office Cats. Erin Blakemore, smithsonian.com, 9 February 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  7. Bethan Bell, "Bureaucats: The felines with official positions", BBC News, 28 January 2018.

Further reading