The History of the Society
The aims of the Society which are included in our rules, were and still are:
"To promote all things found to be desirable in the interests of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as a breed in the Southern Counties of England by encouraging owners and breeders to attain and maintain a high standard in the breed by organizing shows and other activities to be found desirable or necessary".
The Early Days By Mr Nap Cairns
The Society was first mooted after Crufts' in October 1936. At that time only the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club existed and that was formed in June 1935. The Southern Society was formed and recognised by the Kennel Club in October 1937. A future historian will find it impossible to provide a factual account from then on as the Minute Books have disappeared! I am told that there are only a few available.
When I handed over the Minute Books after 21 years as Secretary from 1948, I handed over to my successor Bill Boylan the complete set of Minute Books-seven volumes in all. I am sure he in turn passed them on, so what happened thereafter? Although aware of the disappearance of these books, Officers have done nothing about it
They would certainly make interesting reading today. Even a list of venues of Committee Meetings would sound like a Cooks' Tour ranging from Watford to Battersea and all points between. Some venues luxurious, some stark, but always attended by enthusiasts. It is difficult to compare those heady days with the apathy today when Committee Meetings have been abandoned because of an insufficient number of Committee Members bothering to attend and Officers vacating their jobs before they have gained sufficient experience to carry them out properly.
So let us dwell on happier times. The Society really got off to a flying start, securing one of the most popular men in the country as President, in the person of Tom Walls, actor, and film star and even more important to some , owner of a Derby Winner-April First. He was no paper President, owning the largest string of Stafford’s at one time around thirty. He registered Stafford’s before the Breed was recognised. In those days Stafford’s could be registered at the Kennel Club as Bull Terriers. He also held the first Affix/Suffix in the Breed -"Looe"-that being taken from the name of his house at Epsom. He also donated what now is the most valuable trophy to the Society, The President's Cup in those days commonly referred to as the Tom Walls Cup. In those days we attracted what may be described as the gentry-Lords, Ladies and Hons. For example Lady Harcourt and Viscount Chetwynd, etc.
In those days it was de trop to mention dog-fighting. I well remember being taken to task by the Committee for mentioning dog-fighting in an early article. It was only a passing reference, the bulk of the article was publicizing the Society.
On refection and in the light of the present climate the oldies probably had the right idea. Their view was that even the slightest reference to such things would encourage the worms to come out of the woodwork. However, in those days there weren't any worms so it must be delayed action.
A N Wright
was the first
Secretary but she moved north soon after and Mrs. Muriel Beare took over- a
formidable lady of the old school. Unhappily the War interrupted her term and I believe she went off driving
ambulances. Her friend was Mrs. Cicely Nash who
later became President. At one time she drove a van picking up lost dogs for Battersea Dogs Home and latterly worked for the Kennel Club during which time she saved her lunch money and bought a lovely silver trophy and donated it to the Society.
Another excellent trophy "The Golden Rose Challenge Cup" which today must be worth a considerable sum, was donated by another well-connected lady, Miss Eisley. Miss Jane Lane, another member, was one of the leading lights in Standard Poodles, owning several Champions, in particular Ch. Nunsoe Christopher Robin which to some might make the liking of ugly old Stafford’s somewhat difficult to appreciate. Thanks mainly to those early benefactors, the Society owned the largest and most valuable collection of trophies in the Breed.
Although the Society got off to a good start within a year the clouds of War appeared on the horizon putting on the brakes, which became fully applied a year after.
The Society owes much to the efforts of such people as Sid Roebuck, owner of Eager Lad, Bill Boylan, John Naden and Mesdames Johanne Russell, Bear, Nash, Tomlinson and Boylan in keeping the Society from ceasing altogether.
It is difficult today to recognise the conditions under which the Society had to work. The black-out curtailed mid-week events, petrol rationing made travel by car almost impossible. Public transport was not very dependable and if you were caught in the blackout with a dog, they were not allowed on buses. This made things very difficult for me in particular, as I lived six miles from the nearest railway station and that's a long walk.
The Kennel Club imposed a twenty-five mile radius on Shows and discontinued Championship Shows. At that time several Stafford’s were on the threshold of becoming Champions and this ruined their chances.
Despite all this a band of enthusiasts managed to keep the Society afloat, although on at least one occasion Committee Meetings had to be held as far north as Watford. The Victoria Hotel, Charterhouse Street, Smithfield, became the headquarters for Committee Meetings and Shows. To ease the position the Kennel Club permitted Sunday Shows for the first time in its history and although today such Shows are taken for granted, it was a big concession for those days.The Victoria Hotel became the venue for, in those days, a number of well-attended Shows. The leading lights in those days were Bill Boylan and John Marchant. Even in those days Bill was making a name for himself with his bitches but his best dog was Boy Dan. A prized possession of mine is a photograph of Boy Dan with his measurements written on the back in Bill's characteristic calligraphy "Boy Dan. Height 15¼ inches, Weight 40lbs." He was always kept fit so I wonder today when people claim their dogs are 38lbs. Perhaps they have hollow legs! Boy Dan's more famous brother was The Great Bomber who was around 17 inches and weighed about 50lbs. So the problem of variety in size has been with us a long time. Boy Dan was in considerable conflict with a dog of Marchant's, Tornado, which did most of the winning in those days. This was a much maligned dog of excellent proportions (weight unpublicised, probably 48/50lbs). At this time the Midlander’s were conducting a witch-hunt against the undershot mouth, even to the extent, in the middle of a War, to make it a disqualification.Tornado did not have a perfect mouth but it was more a blemish than a fault. But for the War he would have been a Champion. John Marchant had an even better dog in Bomber of Roundcroft, a beautiful fawn with a classic head, made best of breed by Hubert Beilby who described him as a typical Westall strain dog which, in Beilby' s book, was the highest praise. I used him and got Idol Bruce, a good winner who got Constones Ballyhill Bruce, the only "B" Line (Westall strain) Champion.
The occasional Show was held whilst the bombing slowly brought the Victoria Hotel down around our ears.
About that time an early enthusiast was Philip Dee, although he was more field work orientated. He was called up at the start of the War and as Captain Dee was killed in France. This was a great shock to us and it was decided to put up a memento to him. Mrs. May Boylan took the responsibility for collecting the money for this. Most of the money came from the sale of the cakes she made. One difficulty she had to overcome was that all the ingredients were rationed. Poor Bill must have had a sugarless War. However by dint of scrounging rationed food from members, she managed to get enough money to buy the handsome trophy which is still with us. ,
Phil and Bill were good friends and they became incensed at the vapouring’s of a certain Arthur Heald who was unknown in the Breed but claimed to be an expert (there is nothing new in this world). He made the mistake of publicising a dog which he claimed could beat anything on four legs. Phil and Bill arranged to call on Mr. Heald at his Hertfordshire home to see this wonder. This they duly did. The dog was tied to a leg of a desk and according to them was a pretty poor specimen. Despite this and to call the owner's bluff, they issued a challenge which was promptly declined as did Mr. Heald's contributions to the Press.Early in the War I saw a good pied puppy bitch which went on to become a Best Puppy in Show. She was owned by Mr. Lawrence and conversing with him afterwards I learned he was being called to the colours and would have to dispose of his Stafford’s. I said I would like to buy the bitch pup Chainmakers Fiery Kate- and she changed hands for the then princely sum of £12, five weeks wages for some. In due course I took her to St Albans to mate her with Boy Dan. Bill had built an air raid shelter at the bottom of the garden. It was of concrete construction. You had to literally crawl on hands and knees to gain access to a chamber about 6 feet by 6 feet where the mating was to take place. Bill went in first pushing Boy Dan ahead of him, and I followed on as best I could likewise pushing the bitch. It wasn't so bad for Bill, he knew where he was going, but I hadn't a clue. I should have hated to get into that shelter in a hurry in the blackout but have to say that it looked as if it had never been used for that purpose. I kept a son of this mating, one of the best I have ever owned. He was a grand specimen and one of the best compliments ever paid to him was by a Canadian soldier, billeted, close by who stopped me with eyes glazed and said " My, what a dandy dog". He hadn’t any idea what breed he was and cared less. This dog never had a fight in his life and never seemed to bother about other dogs, he preferred to let them do the worrying. A neighbour called one day to borrow the dog. It appeared there was a sort of collie dog along the road who chased people on bikes. There was concern that he was going to have someone off their bike. Despite complaints the owner did nothing so it was decided they would get hold of Cairn’s dog and let him settle the problem. I explained that whenever the collie saw my dog he would run for the hills. Nevertheless I let them take the dog only to find that what I had said was the truth. My dog was never off the lead in built-up areas but dogs preferred to cross the road rather than pass him on the same pavement This was a phenomenon I never got the answer to as he never in anyway threatened them. He was, however, deadly with all other forms of livestock, killing goats, cats, rabbits, chickens, everything and anything that moved, although he never touched other animals in the household, particularly the family cat and the chickens. However he did bite a lump out of the tortoise!
Towards the end of the War the Victoria Hotel was becoming so crowded that half the "gate" had to stay downstairs in the bar, something they would probably have done by choice anyway. It often proved difficult to find someone to look after their pints whilst they were being persuaded to come upstairs to show their exhibits. I believe the last Show at the Victoria was judged by Lou Prince, the demon barber of Kensington, who owned a good dog called Tuscaloosa Sam. Being centrally placed Lou's salon was often used by stud dog owners for mating sessions, although I am unaware whether such shenanigans went on whilst there were clients in the chairs.
Eventually we had to find a more commodious venue, so back we went to Great Portland Street, a thoroughfare in which a number of pre-War events had been held. This time it was to Trinity Hall where a number of very successful Shows were held, including the first Breed Club Championship Show. There was always a great deal of friendly rivalry between the two Clubs existing then-the Southern and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club-and the Southern stole a considerable march by getting the Kennel Club to grant them Championship Show status ahead of their Midland rivals. Trinity Hall consisted of two halls, the main one upstairs with a lesser one on ground level. In those days benching was compulsory so -it was decided to use the lower hall for the benches. The problem was the very narrow winding stair case. This was overcome by stationing steward’s top and bottom to persuade as many as possible to carry their dogs. This was a tall order for some. The one dog for example, I think he was called Jim's Double of Wychbury, handled by Horace Priest, who was barely five feet and weighing about eight stone, whilst the dog weighed nearly half that. Mercifully there were no catastrophes and it was a great Show.The judge was George Voss, a well-known bulldog man and he did a good job. I am reminded of the first Show under Kennel Club Rules early in 1935, you know the famous one where Bill Boylan's dog Game Lad bit the ear off a Scotty and stopped Stafford s being classified at all breed Shows for years after. That Show was judged by a Bulldog man although how he did it remains a mystery as that Show was before a Breed Standard had been written!
In the meantime changes in personnel were taking place. Sid Roebuck was succeeded as Secretary by John Naden, who owned an upstanding dog called "Our Ben", a really large specimen. John carried on until after the War but he suffered from bad eyesight and Harry Tomlinson became Secretary with Audrey Wise as Assistant and Johanne Russell as Treasurer. Sid Roebuck took the job as Chairman with me as Vice Chairman. At that time the liquid assets of the Society amounted to £3 and this was subsequently found to be owed to Sid Roebuck, although he never claimed it. Harry Tomlinson who worked hard as Secretary also owned a large Stafford called Leo. I well remember him being shown at Harrow. He got him into the centre of the ring whereupon Leo sat down and refused to move. It took 2 of them to slide him out of the ring. I have already said that Joe Naden had a big one as did Sid Roebuck in Eager Lad. Until well after the war the smallest dog around was Head Lad of Villmar. His sire was Vindictive Monty of Wyncroft (not to be confused with the original Vindictive Monty) and he was a big one. This interested me so I travelled up to Walsall to see the dam. Well I have never seen a larger bitch so I concluded that Head Lad was some sort of mutation. Anyway he never produced anything worthwhile.
One of our best venues at that time was the London Scottish Drill Hall just of Victoria Street where the first show was judged by Major Count V.C. Hollander whose book on the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is known to many. Even his book on Bull Terriers made reference to Stafford’s. He was only the second allrounder to judge our breed, the first being Jimmy Saunders another character of those days. Jimmy was basically a bull terrier man but he had wide experience of other breeds and used to stories of dog fights Tabard Street near London Bridge, at one time a notorious street where no policeman would walk alone. At one time he wrote Greyhound racing notes for the London Star under the bye line Leveret. He judged another Southern Show in the early fifties at the Grafton Baths, Camden.
The Stafford was growing in popularity and the Society expanding. In 1947 growing pains were manifesting themselves. I was approached to stand as Secretary little knowing at that time I was taking on a job which was to last over 21 years. At the succeeding Annual General Meeting a new team emerged. The President was Mrs. Cecillie Nash,
Chairman Sid Roebuck, Vice Chairman Jim Orpin, Treasurer Jimmie Russ, Secretary Nap Cairns, Assistant Secretary John Gordon.1948 was a momentous year. The Stafford Magazine was floated at a price of one shilling (five new pence) for the first issue. The only criticism came from the President who apparently expected a glossy magazine for her bob. I tried to explain that with barely £100 in the bank we were hardly in the Vogue class. The outcome of this was that issue No. 2 went on sale at one shilling and sixpence (seven and a half new pence) and this seemed to have placated the lady. Maybe there was something deeper as in her first and last Presidential address she lauded the efforts of everybody but omitted all reference to the Secretary. No mean feat!
On taking over as Secretary I found that the Society had no rules per se and no list of members. Some delving produced a list of around 100 members. At that time I was involved in a local Community Association and borrowing their Rules I adjusted them to the needs of the Society and included Standing Orders for the guidance of Officers and Committee, as is the case today, few if any had any knowledge or experience as to how meetings should be conducted. These were adopted by a Special General Meeting and we were in business. In an effort to establish a proper list of members the names of probably members were published in the Magazine which had the effect of getting a lot of letters from people who thought they were members. This was immediately tackled by Treasurer Russ who had quickly established a set of books and chased potential customers which resulted in membership doubling.
Prior to 1948 the subscription fee was five shillings but the Kennel Club announced that only Clubs with an annual subscription of ten shillings or more could have representation on the Breed Clubs Liaison Council. The Society therefore decided to increase subscriptions to ten shillings stating at the same time that the extra money could also be used to subsidise the Stafford Magazine.
1948 was also the year in which the Kennel Club announced that they were taking over all Breed Standards. Till then the Breed Standards were the property of the various Breeds Clubs but the difficulty with that was that some Breeds had more than one Standard, although Stafford’s have never had more than the one Standard. In contrast to the apathy of today the Breed was agog. On the 25th May 1948 over 100 members out of a membership of 150, turned out for a meeting at the Trinity Hall to discuss and put forward proposals for the new Standard I remember Jim Orpin, an enthusiast for fit Stafford’s, making a strong point that the Standard should clearly state that the dog should be in fit, hard condition, and his dog Show Boy of Woldingham was probably the fittest dog I have ever seen. A fitness more applicable to the Pit than the Show Ring. He was kept in a cage fit for a lion and on the first occasion I saw him, Jim made me stand at the side of the cage door before he would let Show Boy out. He was right, the dog came out like a bullet from a gun and ran 100 yards-in five seconds. When he came back he proved to be a friendly typical Stafford, perhaps a wee bit over-enthusiastic. I remember him being shown under Amos Smith, a gentleman of ample proportions of something in excess of twenty stones with a stomach to match. With some difficulty he bent his knees to examine the dog whereupon Show Boy jumped up and finished round Amos's neck, with Amos unable to return to an upright position and momentarily frozen in time, it would have made a lovely sculpture. Jim managed to separate them and the dog finished Best in Show!The Standard question received priority with all the Breed Clubs, the culmination being a joint meeting at Wolverhampton. A different ball game today when the Kennel Club were allowed to write our Standard without a whimper being raised and without the breed clubs even being asked to accept the final draft. It is said that the modern Stafford lacks spirit, well the modern owners do not set much of an example. Having said this, I must go on record that the Southern Society devoted a whole Sunday to the examination of the Kennel Club’s early proposals and that some of the proposals from that meeting eventually found their way into the Kennel Club’s final draft. Full marks to the Society but I only know of one other club which went to this trouble. Did you know we now have a desired Height, although how one can have a desired height of 14 to 16 inches is difficult to conceive.
After the Standard meeting at Wolverhampton there was an adjournment for a meal and a further meeting was held to discuss the formation of a Breed Council. This resulted in unanimous agreement and Nap Cairns was elected Secretary. This body functioned well for nearly two years until the Kennel Club vetoed it, claiming it contravened a Kennel Club rule, recently brought in, in that it conflicted with a rule regarding a Federation of clubs.
In that t year a new Club was formed under the name The Staffordshire Bull Terriers Breeders Association. This might well have taken the place of the now defunct Advisory Council but unfortunately it never took off.
Mrs Johanne Russell offered a Cup to the first Champion Stafford bitch bred by a member in the Southern Counties. It was to be won outright and was awarded to Mr. Boylan’s bitch Ch. Brinstock Sandy Bridget. Sid Roebuck said he would donate a similar trophy for the dog. This was a large trophy which because of that I thought to E.P.N.S.
Many years later my grandson, then about eight, was visiting us when Liverpool won the cup. As a supporter he got hold of the Eager Lad' Trophy by its handles, shaking it sly and shouting "L'pool's won the Cup", when one of the handles came off. A friend got it repaired and generally refurbished and came back with the news that more care should be taken of it as the jeweller had said it is worth at least £500! Needles to say it now occupies a position of safety where no young rascal can inflict similar damage.
Up to the War, the big All Breed Championship Shows lasted two or three days and exhibits had to stay for the whole duration. At Crufts in 1939 Albert Ainley's Stafford hung itself in the bench during the night and the great Charles Crufts had to pay out compensation
After the War much to the relief of Stafford owners, Championship Shows although lasting more than one day were treated as one day Shows in so far as exhibits on could leave at the conclusion of the day in which they were classified. However in 1949 the Scottish Kennel Club decided to hold a two day Show and exhibitors would have to stay on both days. This proved very unpopular and happily was never repeated.During the year great interest was manifested and good publicity gained by the emergence of the Stafford as an obedience trained dog. The leader in this field was Captain Warwick and his dog Bedgebury Chieftain. He concentrated on the A.S.P.A.D.S. tests. The rules in those days were the same for all breeds irrespective of size. They had to scale a six foot fence and do a broad jump of nine feet, relatively easy for dogs like Alsatians but a much tougher proposition for Stafford’s. Bedgebury Chieftain however made light work of these tasks and his broad jump created so much interest that it was even featured by the B.B.C. He went on to win the coveted title of Companion Dog Excellent.
About that time the Kennel Club produced a list of dogs suitable for Police work, in which was included the Stafford. The Police ignored the Stafford as they wanted larger dogs but conceded they would be quite able to carry out the duties. However several organisations did use them for guarding loads on lorries. There was the famous case which finished up in Court. British Road Services employed a Stafford to guard loads in its lorries. A lorry-load of cigarettes was unattended-except for the Stafford- in Clerkenwell. A child of about seven was lifted into the lorry with a view to her pushing a carton of cigarettes on to the tailboard from whence the mother could lift it. Apparently the presence of the Stafford was unobserved and he had different ideas. He held the child by the arm and despite the screams of the mother and the interference of bystanders, refused to let go. Eventually the driver was found, the child released and taken to hospital. The dog was taken to Battersea Dogs Home. I went to see the dog at Battersea and he was a perfectly normal Stafford who the staff said was no trouble. The newspapers were reporting that the child was in intensive care so I thought I had better see her too. She was taken to hospital and kept in for observation in case of rabies. Three days after the incident she was sitting up in bed playing with her toys and certainly not favouring her injured arm. There was slight bruising on her arm which newspapers said was held for twenty minutes whilst eight people had tried to get her free, one of whom had been armed with a crowbar! Subsequently British Road Services were charged at the Clerkenwell Magistrates Court with owning a dangerous animal. Happily the magistrates in full knowledge of the true facts found in favour of the dog who was discharged without a stain on his character.
The Early Years 1937 - 1954
In late 1936 the fanciers of the breed in the Southern Area felt that due to the rise in popularity of the breed that a Society should be formed to cater for their needs. After various letters had been written and articles had appeared in Our Dogs newspaper it was agreed that a Society should be formed and in February 1937 the Society was born. The first meeting which was very well attended consisted of Hon.Secretary Mr N.A. Wright (Mulberry), President Mr Tom Walls (Looe), Vice-Presidents Viscountess Harcourt, Mrs C Wright, Mrs E Renton, Mr H Beilby, Mr H Crowther,
Mr H Melling, Mr M Smith, J Paget and a committee of Mesdames D Epsom & E Havers, Misses M Hill & M Jordan (MRCVS) and Messer’s
W Boylan, G Epsom, P Dee, G Barfoot-Care, J Naden and Capt. L Wright. All these men and women were well regarded in the Stafford world at the time. It was agreed at this meeting that the Society would hold with KC permission it first show. After securing a venue it was held on the 1st May 1937 and was judged by Mr J Saunders and drew an entry of 82 in 10 classes. Boylan’s “Game Laddie” was BD & BIS with Wright’s “Mulberry Move On” being declared BB. The show was an outstanding success with the only drawback being that the room was not big enough to accommodate all those in attendance.
The membership of the Society grew over the next few years and the Society was in a very strong position, but unfortunately due to the outbreak of war the membership did decrease and it was only with the efforts of the Hon Secretary John Naden, Harry Tomlinson, Mrs J Russell and the Committee that there was still a Society in being when the war ended.
With the ending of the war the dog show scene gradually came to life and in 1946 the Society was granted KC permission to hold the first Breed Club Championship Show for Staffordshire Bull Terriers. The judge for this prestigious event was Mr R.H. Voss who awarded the DCC to Servat’s “Head Lad of Villmar” and BCC to Bowler’s “Jan of Gade” both exhibit’s being owned by Society members.
As with all clubs and societies changes in administration are inevitable and in 1948 Nap Cairns (Constones) became the Hon. Secretary, Jimmy Russ became Hon. Treasurer and John Gordon (Bandits) took up the reins as Asst Secretary and along with rest of the committee another formidable team was formed. 1948 also saw another milestone in the Society’s history, the first publication of the Stafford Magazine. This was the brainchild of Nap Cairns so it was fitting that he should be the first editor. With the help of other members of the committee the magazine went from strength to strength. 1951 saw the retirement, due to business commitments, of Ron Servat and Sid Heywood (interesting to note that Sid never owned or showed a Stafford but had a deep interest in the breed) from their duties with the Stafford Magazine. In Bruce Nicolls, the committee found a willing and able replacement and with Nap still editing, the magazine flourished.
Throughout the early 50’s the officers and committee remained quite constant although the likes of Ken Bailey (Benext), Major Hesketh-Williams and Mr & Mrs Garrett had filled vacated positions and the Society gathered momentum so much so that the membership figure for 1954 topped 400. It was also at this time that Mr Garrett secured Third Party insurance for members at a cost of 2 shillings and sixpence per annum and although this was well received at the time it unfortunately fell by the wayside due to the administration of it after Mr Garrett retired from the committee.
The Middle Years 1954-1971 By Mr. Bruce Nicolls.
The Middle has no beginning and no end but for the Southern Counties the Middle Years were a time of consolidation, some considerable strife and an emergent enthusiasm which has been a characteristic of the Society from Day One. As you turn through the years personalities arise together with their dogs and like stars burn brightly and in many cases burn brilliantly for a short period, only to be extinguished and are seen no more. Fortunately for the Society there were those whose light burned brightly and constantly and carried the Southern Counties into the '70's for without them the Society would have surely foundered.
1954 was the year that Crufts was cancelled due to an industrial dispute an unprecedented event as Crufts had only been stopped during the War Years. The Society was allowed to hold four shows a year and the entry fee for the Championship show was twelve shillings and six pence (old money) with prize money of £2.00. £1.00 and 10/-. The President in 1954 was Harry Tomlinson who had worked so hard during the Second World War to keep the Society going. the Secretary was Nap Cairns who had held that post since 1948.The Judge that year for the Championship Show was Jimmy Russ who awarded the tickets to Ch.Corsair of Wyncole owned by Miss Peebles and Constones Concordia who was handled by Miss Clair Cairns (now Mrs. Clair Lee, Secretary of the Northern Counties).
I will always remember Miss Peebles who used to arrive at shows complete with dog, small attaché case and dressed in a well worn blue ‘costume! From the attaché case she would produce a bottle of cider and from her pocket an elegant enameled cigarette case from which she would select a rather battered hand rolled object which passed as a cigarette and which she smoked with great relish with strands of tobacco falling in all directions.
The year 1954 also saw the death of Mr. H N Beilby who had been very active in the formation years from 1935 and was the first to write a book on the Breed which is now regarded as the 'Bible' of the Breed. Mr. Beilby formulated the lines of the breed which at the time of his death were quoted in most Stud Adverts together with his family numbers for Bitches.
It might be interesting to note that the Stafford Magazine cost 5/- in 1954 for which the reader received four issues each year. At this time I was Circulation Manager of the magazine and it was not uncommon to receive the Christmas issue on Christmas Eve. enlist the whole family into filling envelopes and posting them in nearby Post Box before the last post for subscribers to receive them on Christmas Day.
the advent of the Kennel Club allowing three shows only per year as it was felt
that there were too many shows in the Calendar, the Southern Counties got around this
by making the Willesden (now Brent) Show their Open Show and thus at that time still
managed four shows a year.
By 1955 there were seven Breed clubs in the U.K. but only the Southern Counties and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club were permitted by the
Kennel Club to hold Championship Shows. The Society shows were held at Grafton Hall during this period, this venue was in Kentish Town and the premises also contained a public washhouse and it was not an unusual sight to see a Stafford entering the same door as a broken down pram containing bundles of washing. This venue was notorious for its toilet facilities in particular for the ladies and with the emerging lady exhibitor it was made clear at meetings that this poor standard could no longer be accepted. Enough to say that the Committee were instructed to find other accommodation as soon as possible.
Harry Tomlinson was again voted in as President and the Chairman was Rex Underwood who held the post for five years. Committee Meetings were more formal affairs in these days and it was usual to finish the business by 10.00 p.m. should discussion go beyond that time 'Standing Orders' were formally moved and an extension of thirty minutes allowed which was seldom exceeded. Rex Underwood as Chairman always placed his watch on the table at the commencement of the Meeting and each speaker was allowed two minutes only. A far cry from today when Committee Meetings have become verbal marathons and to finish by 11.00 p.m. is quite an achievement.
This year saw the arrival of Troglodyte on the show scene, he was bought purely as a pet by Mr. Barton Yates for his son and being totally unaware of the animal's potential was persuaded to show him. I am sure Mr. Yates would be the first to admit that he did not know completely what was about to happen, suffice to say that Troglodyte became a Champion in a very short space of time carrying all before him. Regrettably Troglodyte was not used much at Stud and I doubt if there are many pedigrees that carry his name. Mr. Barton Yates subsequently served on Committee and retained his interest in the breed over the years. It is some time however since his immaculate figure has been seen at the ringside.In 1955 Pedigree forms were 3d each and this was considered quite a venture by the Society as one thousand forms were ordered at an expenditure of around £12.00 in old money and nobody was sure if there would be enough puppies bred to ever use them. At the Championship Show judged by the late Ben Johnson the Dog C.C. went to Aphonic True Pal owned by Messrs Dean and Roylance and the Bitch C.C. to Eastaff Nicola owned by Jack McNeil. I doubt if there are many who will remember Jack McNeil who was a stalwart of the breed for many years but alas is no longer with us. Jack and the dog that he was showing in the ring were as one, it is a pity that many of our present day ' handlers ' could not have seen him, there was no squatting on the floor to support the dog which was shown on a loose lead reacting to his every quiet command in fact it was hardly ever necessary for Jack to utter a word. So much for Handling Classes!
Jack and Elsie McNeill would later be remembered for Ch. Eastaff Damon who left an indelible mark on the breed, I doubt if there are many pedigrees who do not have his name in them now going way back.
1956 was the twenty-first anniversary of the Breed being recognised by the Kennel Club, from what l can recall very little was done to mark this milestone either by the Southern Society or any of the growing number of Clubs in the country. 1956 was notable for falling entries and registrations were only 447 in the first six months of the year. There were several notable dogs around at this time and amongst these were Ch. Constones Cadet owned by Nap Cairns, Ch. Godfreys Pride owned by The Ford and Dady's who was a veteran by this t time ,
Ch.Troglodyte, Ch.Golden Boy of Essira owned by Mrs. Nita Weller to mention but a few. The Fords and Dady's owned and showed several good dogs and Ch. Godfreys Pride was in fact the sire of Constones Cadet. The Ford & Dady’s breeding programme left a considerable mark on the breed during the fifties but alas their enthusiasm burnt too bright and l always feel that they left the Breed and the Society somewhat disenchanted. Most members of the family served on Committee at some time and Raymond Dady was Treasurer for a short while when the Committee met in Conduit street and off Covent Garden. Donald Ford an eminent speaker returned several years later to award C.C.'s at the National Terrier Show but was not heard of again in company with the rest of the family, I wonder where they are now.The Championship Show in 1956 was judged by Gerald Dudley and C.C.'s were awarded to Ch. Troglodyte and Smith's Andra of Towans. Colin Smith had by now started to contribute notes from Midlands to the Magazine, I believe he was still at college when he first came South with his parents to the Southern shows. Two names come to mind during this year these being Jo Wylie and J.R.Richards. Jo Wylie held several posts on Committee during the following years and was a tireless worker for the Society and the Breed. her most notable dog was Bankhead Bullet. Regrettably Jo died at an early age following the untimely death of her husband Jock. Mr. Richards joined the Committee and injected a burst of new found enthusiasm into the proceedings, he could always be relied upon to come up with new ideas, some workable some beyond the some beyond the hounds of the Committee's jurisdiction. One idea however was taken up when he proposed that the Southern Society should present a mascot to the South Staffordshire Regiment. The basic idea was that the Committee should purchase a puppy. run it on and if typical of the breed then present it to the Regiment. I will not weary you with the details of the lengths that the Committee went to in this project nor the number of dogs that were run on. Suffice to say that the Committee put their own money on the table more than once to cover some of the costs. As far as l can remember we never got around to presenting a mascot.
It is not my intention to catalogue every event in each year and if I omit a name or event which you feel is of importance then please accept my apologies in advance.
In 1957 Kennel Club Registrations cost 5/- (25p to those too young to have known pre-decimalization). at this time you could still obtain a Class 2 Registration if you did not know the parentage of your dog providing you obtained certification from an approved judge that your animal was typical of the Breed in question. Quite frankly I dread to think what would be situation today if this facility still existed in particular with Stafford’s.
In this year Frank Dix became Circulation Manager of the Stafford and continued in this post for some time. He can still be seen at Shows from time to time although he no longer owns a Stafford. As far as I can recall Frank retired for about the third time when he was around eighty years of age. After he ran out of Stafford’s having shown them with moderate success he purchased a Griffon and once again entered the show ring and made his dog up to Champion in less than ten weeks. Harry Tomlinson was still President at this time there being no time limit in the rules and everyone seemed to be very happy with Harry as the senior figure of the Society.
Crufts was judged by Jack McNeill in 1958 and he made Brinstock Glenagow his Best of Breed, Glenagow went on to be Best of Breed at the Society's Championship Show where he gained his titled under Rueben Timmins. This was the 21st Anniversary of the Society but l am unable to trace a particular event that was held to mark this occasion. Harry Tomlinson continued as President with Rex Underwood in the Chair. It is interesting to note that during this year the Committee spent a considerable amount of time discussing, would you believe 'The Standard' with particular reference to height and weight, over twenty years later the Committee was still engaged on the same subject.
The Standard was discussed yet again in 1959 and I am quite sure that when the Society reaches it Centenary the subject will still be on the Agenda. There were some changes in the Officers at the Annual General Meeting when Ron Servat became Chairman, Rex Underwood retiring from the post after five years. Jim Huxtable took over from Raymond Dady as Treasurer and continued in that position for some years. When he retired from the post he was made a Life Vice President in recognition of his services to the Society. The Championship Show was judged by Ron Servat who made Weycombe Dandy Best of Breed with Mrs. BettyStormont's Mandy of Mandalay Best opposite sex. This show was held at the Marylebone Youth Centre, a slight improvement on Grafton Hall but celebrated for its dust and rat poison in the Canteen. Venues were a problem in those days and remain so to this day. Entries were of course lower and not so much floor space was required, I believe at this time the venue cost £5.00 for the day. It is also interesting to note that the Committee in 1959 were actively discussing the selection of Judges, 1 think it will need the judgment of a Solomon before someone comes up with a totally accepted method as this subject has been discussed ever since.
A Meeting was held to vote on the decision reached at two previous meetings on the hardy perennial The Standard, alas only thirty members turned up, history was repeated in the early Eighties when about the same number of people attended. I sometimes wonder if the Membership are really interested in this subject although more time has been taken up during the years on this than any other matter.A Midlands exhibitor emerged during the late fifties who cannot be missed from these recollections, his name was Dick Curtis who bred and showed a succession of animals under the prefix Christmas Eve. Dick would talk for hours on the breed and was totally involved in the Breed for many years, the only trouble was that Dick's memory failed him when it was time to go to a show and on various occasions either arrived with the wrong exhibit or the right exhibit
entered in the wrong class and I am given to understand that he once turned up without a dog at all. Nevertheless without characters such as Dick the dog game would be very boring. he practiced what he preached and when he became a vegetarian he induced his brood of Stafford’s to follow suit. He judged our shows on several occasions his last being the Southern Counties Championship show in the early part of the eighties shortly before he was taken ill and died at a comparatively early age.
In1959 the number of Stafford’s registered at the Kennel Club reached one thousand.
1960 saw the Society going from the strength to strength and still talking about, yes you've guessed it THE STANDARD. Our Championship Show was judged by Fred Holden from the Midlands, his Freden prefix can no doubt still be found way back in many pedigrees. His Dog C.C. winner was Abe Harkness’s Sahib of Senkrah and the Bitch C.C. went to Mr. Tom's Lassie of Killyglen. Abe Harkness was a frequent visitor to the South at this time coming over the border from Scotland to raid the English shows and return with his spoils form the wins by Ch. Weycombe Julie, Ch. Weycombe Melody of Senkrah and subsequently Ch. Sahib of Senkrah. Julie and Melody were from the same litter as Weycombe Dandy who also became a Champion around this time. Abe is still very active in the Breed in Scotland and also has an interest in several other breeds.
Members were saddened in this year by the death of Harry Tomlinson who had served the Society for many years. He was a steward supreme and on many occasions settled the nerves of a novice judge who was entering the ring for the first time. No clip board for Harry, he knew where each and every dog should be right through the show. Without him I doubt if there would still be a Southern Counties.His place was taken in 1961 by Harry Nicolls with Joe Hanlon as President Elect. My father had held several posts in the Society over a period of years and was delighted to be the first wearer of the Presidents chain of Office which was presented and awarded by the late Jimmy Russ. This was the first year when the Society had a President Elect in Joe Hanlon a character of very firm opinions who came and went in the Society on more than one occasion.
Joe Hanlon at one time ran a pub and if he could not get someone to stand in for him when he was going to a show, he would put a box on the bar for his regulars to put their money in and asked the last one out to shut the door. Joe died some years ago and my last recollection of him was at Crufts with his camera slung around his neck and dispensing to those who dared, rum of some considerable strength.
The Committee decided that Harry Tomlinson's service to the Society should be commemerated with a Memorial Trophy which was purchased with members donations to be won by the Best in Show at the Society's Championship Show Open to all.
I am not sure what happened to the President Elect in 1962 as Harry Nicolls was re elected and this I believe saw the origin of a President being in Office for two years should he so desire although the rules did not actually provision for this. This practice has continued up to the present day.
The Championship Show moved to more suitable surroundings in the Manor Place Baths where the Society held shows for some years. The judge was Ben Johnson who awarded the C.C.'s to Mrs. Nancy Cannell's Torso of Tottington and Ken Fensom’s Ch. Pitbul Lindy Lou.
Mrs. Cannell was a relative newcomer to the show ring, always immaculate she soon learned that high heels and tight skirts were not the ideal attire for the purpose of showing dogs. She campaigned Torso fearlessly but unfortunately never made him up to Champion. Ken Fensom of the well known Pitbul prefix now lives in South Africa and before leaving for warmer climes served on the Southern Counties Committee for many years.At the Annual General Meeting in 1962 Nap Cairns continued as Secretary with Ron Servat in the Chair. Ron Servat served on committee in various capacities over the years and in latter days was able to accept judging engagements around the world when he went into semi retirement. On looking through my notes I sec that I have made no mention of a rescue service and during the years 1954 to 1962 and the reason for this is that there was not one and as far as I know there was no need for one. It is only since the Breed became over popular that we have had to call upon the services of a small number of completely dedicated folk who undertake this work.
Once again in 1962 there were problems with the Judges List and like the poor I think this problem will remain with us. You can please some of the people most of the time but it seemed then as it does now that it is quite impossible to please all the people all of the time.
1963 saw the appointment of Miss Marjorie Jordan to judge at Crufts, she was the first lady ever to judge Stafford’s at this show and awarded the Dog C.C. to Mr. Fields Bandits Brintiga and the Bitch C.C. to Mr Sykes Ch. Vesper Andromeda.
Miss Jordan was our Honorary Veterinary Surgeon for many years and the Society acknowledged her services by making her a Life Vice President. Some of our younger members may be unaware that until recent years the Kennel Club ruled that Veterinary Surgeons must be in attendance at all shows, firstly to examine dogs on arrival and to be available in the event of an emergency.
During the years that M, Jordan carried out this service in an honorary capacity she must have had more Stafford’s through her hands than any one judge could go over in a life time. Miss Jordan now lives in retirement in Surrey and despite many appeals over the years has not returned to judge our breed. It may be of interest to learn that Miss Jordan was often accompanied at shows by Miss Rogers who also had a keen interest in Stafford’s and met with considerable success with them in the Obedience field.
Early in 1963 the clouds of strife were gathering over the Society and it is not my intention to dwell on this matter suffice to say that both sides had their points and the administration of the Society changed on more than one occasion during the year. If you think you have been to difficult meetings in the recent past, believe me they were an afternoon tea party compared with meetings held in 1963.Thanks to the devotion of a small number of members it was possible to keep the Society running and to hold the three shows. The Championship Show was judged by Mr. Gerald Dudley who awarded the Dog C.C. to Mr. Tranter's Bandits Red Armour and the Bitch C.C. to Mr. Batham's Old Mansion Pride.
Following the previous momentous year we had a new Secretary in 1964 in the person of Major Frank Rowley, President was Miss Marjorie Jordan and the Chairman Mr. Ron Servat. Frank Rowley remained as Secretary until 1968 and although he was not everyone’s' flavour of the month' saw the Society through a difficult period. Frank had three attributes, a dedication to the Breed, uncanny 'skills' as a driver which l experienced on more than one occasion and the record for being the first person to open the bar at any show he went to. I personally have very happy memories of Frank and T together with many others mourned his passing after a series of major operations.
Although the Society had established itself at the Manor Place Baths for Championship Shows, this was too expensive for Limited Shows and the Epiphany Hall in South West London was used for some time. This venue known to many as Effany Hall really had very little to offer apart from mounds of dusty gymnasium equipment which at least amused the youngsters and sent them home looking like some of the ethnic cousins in the area.
The Championship Show was judged by Charlie Townsend, a Midlander who had been resident in the South for some years. The Dog C.C. went to Mr. Fred Holden's Freden Dominate and the Bitch C.C. to Mrs. Elaine Myles's Wirswall Betsy.
1965 was a fairly uneventful year, the President was Mr. Ron Servat and the Chairman Mr. Sid Little. Sid Little was with the Society for a short time only and served as Chairman for one year. Although I believe he still lives in Essex he has not been seen at shows for many years. On consulting my notes I see that the method of compiling the Judges list was changed!The 1965 Championship Show saw Mrs. June Horsfall on the Woolsack with the Miss Morris's Camdonian Contender taking the Dog C.C. and Mrs. Gallimore's Kinderlee Cavalcade the Bitch C.C. Mrs. Gallimore was very active in Stafford’s at this time and subsequently moved to the United States taking her Stafford’s with her. I regret however that she died there at a very early age.
1966 saw Jimmy Russ appointed as Chairman a position he held for a number of years, Jimmy brought a breath of fresh air into the Society and during his time in office the Society reached an all time membership level. He produced the Society News Letter in an entirely new form, the production of which took place in his office above his butchers shop and the team who finally put the News Letter to bed and stuffed envelopes ended up exhausted not only with work but with the hilarious proceedings and the hospitality dispensed by mine host. Although at times he was controversial he worked hard and long for the Society and gave freely of his time and long experience in the breed.
The Secretary appointed in 1966 was Mr. Dennis Jaggs who due to business pressures was forced to resign before the encl of the year when his place was taken in an acting capacity by Nap Cairns. One of the most important events during the year was a Meeting held in Manchester to consider the formation of a Breed Council the Southern representatives being Mr. J Russ and Mr. John Gordon. From that time much has been written about the Breed Council but to what effect I am not sure. To my mind an organisation which is not permitted by Kennel Club Rules to have any executive powers cannot possibly succeed.
The Championship Show that year was judged by Abe Harkness who awarded the Dog C.C. to Lionel Hemstock 's Jolihem Dreadnought and the Bitch C.C. to Mr. Fred Clark's Curfews White Orchid. It is interesting to note that Curfews White Orchid also took the Bitch C.C. in 1968 and 1970. As far as I know this has not been equaled since.In the following year 1967 Jim Huxtable was elected as President, with Jimmy Russ as Chairman and Nap Cairns confirmed in his post as Secretary. Mrs. Eileen Nicolls took over the post of Treasurer and continued in this position for several years. Jim Huxtable can only be described as one of nature’s gentlemen, quite firm in his beliefs, but he never lost his quiet manner and I do not think I ever saw him ruffled. Together with his wife Peggy they established a very good line of bitches under the Winterfold prefix and I am sure that if you study the background of your dog's breeding you will probably find Winterfold somewhere .
The Championship show was again held at Manor Place Baths in 1967 and on this occasion Harry Foulkes was the judge. The Dog C.C. winner was Capt. & Mrs. Fisher's Linksbury Augustus and the Bitch C.C. winner was Mr. Vic Pounds's Orchids Beauty. One cannot but make some comment about Harry Foulkes who had been involved in Stafford’s for many years. Harry was in the Merchant Navy for some years and his Magazine and Society correspondence followed him all over the world. He had always sought a Stafford that would do some winning and when he purchased Buninyong Caesar his hopes were realised. Buninyong Caesar had an outstanding show career winning seven C.C.'s and was Best of Breed eight times. Harry Foulkes served on Committee on a number of occasions when he finally came ashore and always maintained a keen interest in the breed.
Although no previous mention has been made of Vic Pounds who is now enjoying retirement in Sussex, he had been in the Society over a period of years and was a contemporary of Jack McNeil.. Vic bred several good hitches which he campaigned throughout the country with considerable success in addition he bred Ch. Curfews White Orchid the winner of the C.C. the previous year. Vic Pounds now heads up the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Rescue Service and has been involved in this for some years.
By 1968 the Society appeared to have settled down to a steady pace and was actively in the Breed Council sending representatives to each meeting. Nap Cairns continued to .edit the Stafford Magazine with Mr. David Linnell taking care of the Advertising. Distribution was controlled by Percy Tottman who had been a steady worker for the Society for a number of years, this was to be subsequently rewarded when he was made President of the Society.
Mr. Ken Bailey judged the Championship Show and awarded the Dog C. C. to Ch. Jolihem Dreadnought and the Bitch C.C. to Curfews White Orchid, these being the C. C. winners in 1966. I note that in this year Mr. & Mrs. Briscoe's Winterfold Danny was the leading sire and subsequently his picture appeared on the jacket of one of John Gordon's books on the breed.
1969 saw John Gordon elected as President and at the same time he undertook the duties of Editor of the Stafford Magazine. Jimmy Russ continued in the chair. The Secretary for the year was Alec Waters who had served on Committee in various capacities over previous years, in the following years Alec was to edit the magazine, a task that he has taken on again, coupled with being President for the Jubilee year. Towards the end of the year John Gordon was forced to resign as Editor of the Magazine due to ill health. The issues for which he was responsible were notable for their front covers the cost of which he undertook himself.
The judge for the Championship Show was Mr. Ken Fensom of Pitbul fame and he awarded the dog C.C. to Benext Beau owned by Mr. Ken Bailey and the bitch C.C. to Kinderleee Camille owned by Messrs. Hill & Ellison. Ch. Benext Beau went on to win more C.C.'s than any other Stafford at that time, handled by his owner who had been active in the breed for many years going back to the days of shows at Grafton Hall and probably before.
We now come to the final year of the Middle year’s i.e.1970 and I reprint the list of Officers and Committee to illustrate my opening remarks.
President: Mr. Percy Tottman (now Show Manager for the East Anglian Club)
Chairman: Mr. Jimmy Russ (alas no longer with us)
Vice Chairman: Mr. Vic Pounds (now enjoying retirement in Sussex)
Hon. Secretary: Mr. Alec Waters (still going strong as President of the Society)
Hon Treasurer: Mrs. Eileen Nicolls (The past Chairman, who has held the posts of (Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer and Social Secretary now Secretary of the Wealdstone & Northolt Canine Society and Treasurer of the Norwich Terrier Club).
Committee: Miss P Tottman (Now married and no longer takes an active part in the Society)
Brian Barnes (Was very active in the Society for a short period but has not been heard of for some time)
Fred Clark (Now retired but still takes a keen interest in the Breed)
Mr. W Eagles (Was a keen exhibitor for several years but appears to gone out of the breed altogether)
Mr. Gerry Haybittle (Has not been seen around the show scene for some years although a very active member in the middle '60s)
Mr. Tom Scanlon (Still remains a member of the Society and is often seen around the shows without doubt he preferred the Show ring to administration)
Mr. Nap Cairns (Now retired and residing in the North of England, still takes an active part in the Breed and was elected a Life Vice President in 1970)
Mr. Sid Davis (Regrettably no longer a member of the Society but took a very active part during the sixties and seventies)
Mr. Ken Fensom (Now residing in South Africa)
Mr. George Planson (Now lives in Sussex and although very active in the Breed for some years is no longer a member and has not been seen at shows for several years)
John Gordon was also elected as a Life Vice President in 1970 in recognition of his services to the Society over many years. John is one of the leading authors of books on the Breed several of which have been reprinted.
The venue for the 1970 Championship Show was moved to a large school hall in West London as the Manor Place Baths had decided that they would no longer let their premises for Dog Shows. Whilst the venue proved to be popular with exhibitors, only two shows were held there. The judge was Rueben Timmins who had judged the Society's Championship Show in 1958 and he awarded the Dog C.C. to Mr. Actons Son of Templar and the Bitch C.C. to Curfews White Orchid now owned by Mr. Brian Barnes.
Many names have been mentioned in this resume of the Middle Years and no doubt there will be many more that you can remember, they all go however to make up a Society and no doubt the same can be said for most Clubs or Societies whether they he Canine or any other. Whilst passions have run high on many occasions during these middle years, only a few lost sight of the fact that it was a hobby, after all we were only there for the beer and to us the finest breed there is.
We have read, in the Spring and Summer Jubilee issues of the Stafford, how and when , the Society was formed, and how the stalwarts of the early period worked to keep it going with all the difficulties that all new clubs experience, but made far more difficult with a six year duration of war, but they came through with flying colours. With the help of new members they then built the Society to a very strong position. Now when we reach the period 72 to 87, 15 years which have been lively (and sometimes disastrous) for the Society.
This period started extremely well. Jimmie Russ was well established in the Chair, and his tremendous and extraordinary influence ensured the Society's good progress, with the membership steadily increasing and, most important, the members getting very good value for money. Nap Cairns held the Secretary's post, and his verbal tussles with Jim were often the highlight of the Committee meetings, but they were the best of friends behind the scenes. Along with the old firm Russ an Cairns, the Society at this particular time, I believe, had the strongest and most experienced Committee in its history, and when you consider some of the committee members, Vic Pounds, Eddie and Roma Williams, Ken Jenson, Bill Dew, Alec Waters, Terry Giles, Percy Tottman and not forgetting Bruce and Eileen Nicolls, this redoubtable pair have seemed to span most of the Society's years of existence! They certainly have filled almost every post in the Society (with some distinction). So it is no wonder that this particular time was the Society’s best years..
Many of the members at that time were enjoying great success in the show ring. Eddie and Roma Williams' Ch. Christopher of Geneva had already achieved his title, along with my Ch. Ashstock Artful Bess and Ch. Ashstock Max the Miller, Bill and Dorothy Dews Hicycle Dictator, Planson and Giles Muzzanda Courageous Dan, Mrs. Hesketh Williams Verles Viceroy, Eddie and Margaret Skeets Ch. Ashstock Brinchester, Jack and Sylvia Bakers Imago Brindle Mick, Alan Devlins Ch. Ashstock Lucky Jim, Mrs. Carless Ch. Midnight Riot, Anne Mitchells Ch. Cardinal Sin of Beaconmoor not forgetting Mr. and Mrs. Ken Baileys Ch. Benext Beau, a lot of silly criticism was leveled at this dog (a fate usually reserved for the successful) but there can be no doubt that he was a magnificent specimen, a winner of a record number of CCs. A dog that would figure in most people’s list of great champions. Sadly 1974 saw the death of another great champion, Fred Clark's Ch. Curfews White Orchid (bred by Mr. and Mrs. Vic Pounds) who collected 13 CCs, certainly the Society was rich in the number of high quality dogs and bitches around this early period, 1970 to 1976.
In 1974, I with the able assistance of Eddie and Roma Williams (Business and Circulation Manager) took over an ailing Stafford magazine, my own personal reasons for taking over the Editorship was to prevent it disappearing, and after the many years of this publication which was after all, Nap Cairns brain child, and the only written and pictorial history of the breed, it would have been a tragedy to see it disappear.In those days there were 4 issues per year. So you can understand how it literally took over ones whole life.
During the 70’s the Society’s championship shows were huge successes with record entries. reaching over 400 on one occasion I believe, with visitors. exhibitors from all points or the compass. which meant that usually our members were able to see the cream of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier world at these shows. It was a sad day for the Society to see the end of the Manor Place Baths as the venue for these shows. In my opinion no other hall has had the same electric atmosphere that one experienced at this venue. but of course the Society has had to face the problems of finding suitable venues as other societies have had to do.
The Society has always been fortunate to have the services of many loyal and devoted members. those. include Ann Gatenby a long serving member, who bred Ch. Kerrisdale Orchids Fancy (owned by Vic and Betty Pounds ). who has served the office of President and of course been a tremendous stalwart in the Rescue Service, along with Vic Pounds and Nap Cairns an organisation soon to be vital as a result of the commercial and get rich quick unscrupulous people who call themselves Stafford fanciers. Ken and Gwen Bailey long serving members. but sadly Gwen is no longer with us. Jirn Huxtable another long serving member who passed away some years ago but was treasurer for many years, Ron Servat, Harry Folkes, Margaret Briscoe, time affects the memory and it can be difficult to remember some of the old members.
l977 was a sad year for the Society with the death or Jimmie Russ, he had already given up chair but it seemed that it was the end of an era particularly as Nap was no longer secretary and by strange coincidence the total Society membership had steadily declined. In 1978 the membership had declined to 480 from around 800 in 1970. It seemed that things were beginning to go wrong. There was a very unpleasant incident at the 1976 AGM where there was an outbreak of fisticuffs. The committee never really found out who caused this fracas but many people knew who was behind this disgraceful incident. The chairman this particular year was Phil Gate, an active member who sadly passed away some years ago.
In 1978 the Society did take a bold step by introducing a Judges Training programme. I know this was a very successful project and many people benefited, but sadly it was never repeated.
In 1978 Mike Homan became the Society’s Secretary. Many of the old committee members were beginning to leave the committee and the Society seemed to be entering a new phase. In fact, during the latter part of the 70s at one AGM about 30 small children (some in prams) were brought into the meeting to vote for certain people and remove others from the committee. A very sad day for this Society
New dogs and bitches were now showing their paces. Peter and Jean I.oughborough Pejay Samson Agonistes, Gerry Dickens Ch. Kaluki Duke, Ernie Wollett’s Ashstock Maxamillian and Ashstock Red Rebel. Margaret Briscoe’s Tojen Tamberlaine. Mr. Stevenson’s Tartan Acc, my Aust. Ch. Ashstock Mad Hatter, Bill and Dorothy Dew’s Ch. Ashstock Red Buttons·. Bill Jones Ch. Pitbul Jeffs Pal. my Ashstock Black Maria. Mike Homan’s Everdee Soldier of Fortune, Hilary Salkeld Fracknells Sugar Ray and not forgetting another great champion Ch. Pitbul Red Regent. who died in South Africa. Although I do not know the details as Mr. Fensom has never contacted me since his arrival in South Africa.
1981 saw John Bird occupying .the chair following Phil Gate. John Bird owner of Ch. Montbull Barbarossa. bred by Bill and Dorothy Dew, then Ray Townsend following Roma Williams as Editor of the magazine. But he was subsequently replaced by Ron Turnbull, and finally me again in 1986.
The 80s have seen some sad days for the Society, particularly the divisions that have seemed to exist within, which hopefully now have gone.
The Jubilee Year has proved difficult one for the Society. with some of the experienced officers and committee members not standing for reelection at the AG M. Losing all this valuable experience was a bitter blow in the most important year for the Society . Lost were Bruce Nicolls (Show Manager). Eileen Nicolls (Chairwoman). Alice Levy (Treasurer), Gill Thomas (Secretary). David Levy, Ron and Melody Turnbull and Mike and Janet Homan. The new elected officers and committee members were all keen and enthusiastic, but mostly inexperienced. And to make matters difficult to start off, one member who did not even attend the meeting sent an objection to the KC about the way the A G M was conducted. So the committee have had this matter to attend to during the last 6 months, then the date of the Society Ch. Show had to be changed due to the clash with the Blackpool Ch.show.
The 80s have been very mixed years for the Society. One retrograde step was the introduction of AGMs at the Roebuck Pub. Dover Street in the evening(midweek). This meant, of course many members were unable to attend these meetings. Consequently many members of long standing became disillusioned about the direction the club seemed to be going and have left the club. The breed standard raised its (ugly) head again during this period. The KC seemed to be asking the breed clubs for their views but it seemed impossible for clubs to agree and sadly the meetings which the Society went to a g re a t deal of trouble to organise were poorly attended. On the other hand meetings for the selection of judges were usually very well attended. The reader can reach his or her own conclusions. At the end of the day the KC imposed its own version of the Breed Standard which was accepted by the breed without a whimper.
Members of the Society who won CCs in the ‘80 to 87’ showing includes. Phil Shoulder's Ch. Ginnels Black Tuskyanna, Mick and Terry Clarkes Ch.Boldmore Black Sabbath and then Boldmore Shady Lady, Harry and Mary Coble's Surestaff Aphrodite, Mr. and Mrs. Angie Carlini's Ch.Angelstaff Blue Max, my own Ashstock Wild Colonial Boy, Mr. and Mrs. Ron Turnbulls Ch.Warcloud of Ironstone and Ch.Kedris Gay Abandon, Peter and Jean Loughborough's Cataphract Ariadne, and Cataphract Ariel, Mike Homans Ch. Evardee Sargeant Pepper, Watsons Ch. Malju Cutters Boy, Jim and Pauline Wards Ch. Duke of Ducks Hill, Caroline Ashby's Ebony Ace of Euphemia, Miss T Keith’s Her Indoors, John Dare’s Ralph the Mouth of Bow, Bob Fords Mystic Warrior, Ted and lain William's Ch. Reckless Lass, White’s Ch.Black Opal, John and Joyce Birds Ch. Montbell Barbarossa.
We have reached the end of a 50 year period, so what conclusions can we draw or an even more important question, what is the future of the Society.
Well I believe along with many others that to reach 50 years is a great achievement, credit is entirely due to the stalwarts who devoted themselves to the Society's well being and success.
The future? Well assured I believe, providing we have the support and help of the members who do not use the Society for their own self interests and glorification.
The society will only recapture its former stature and achievements of the members if the older and more experienced members are prepared to make a greater contribution by supporting their society at AGM meetings etc and offering their services on the committee, because breed societies cannot function successfully without the contribution of the wisdom of such members. Societies these days are like running small business, particularly with the need of careful financial planning. The Society must attempt to discourage indiscriminate breeding among its members and encourage the members to breed only with the object to improve the breed.
1987 To The Present and Beyond ?