The Articles reproduced below first appeared in
Lorna, Countess Howe
Mrs Quintin Dick, as she then was, first discovered the pleasures of Labrador ownership in 1913 when she acquired her first dog. She was instrumental in the formation of the Club in 1916, becoming the first Secretary and Treasurer, offices she held until her death in 1961. She also became the Chairman in 1935 when Lord Knutsford died. She was in every way the driving force of the Club and the champion of the breed in its formative years.
Lady Howe owned some of the most influential Labradors of all time, names which reel off the tongue like a beautiful melody to those interested in the history of the Labrador: Dual champions Banchory Bolo, Banchory Painter, Banchory Sunspeck and Bramshaw Bob; Champions Ilderton Ben, Banchory Trueman, Banchory Danilo, Bolo’s Trust, Ingleston Ben, Orchardton Donald and Field Trial Champion Balmuto Jock to name but a few. Lady Howe purchased many of the dogs she made famous, her keen eye quickly spotting the potential of any young dog. Her undoubted favourite was Bolo, a dog which did so much for the breed. Born in 1915, sired by Scandal of Glyn (a FT Ch Peter of Faskally son) Bolo was an eighth generation from Lord Malmesbury’s Tramp (1878), through Munden Sixty and Sentry. His start in life was not a happy one and until Lady Howe took him on at the age of three, he showed no sign of the greatness which was within.
Lady Howe worked tirelessly for the club, by her example and encouragement, the Labrador attained a position as the supreme retriever which hippily it still holds to this day. In the early days dogs were expected to be dual purpose and most of Lady Howe’s dogs achieved success both in the field and on the bench. Served well by her trainer/handler, Tom Gaunt, Lady Howe ensured that her dogs performed their task successfully at the highest levels. It is very significant that four of the ten Dual Champions in the breed were owned by Lady Howe.
At one stage, Lady Howe entered into partnership with another successful breed. The joining together of the two most important Labrador Kewnnel os all time came about when Mrs Gwen Broadley joined Lady Howe at the Banchory Kennel. Only a short lived liaison but one of such power and influence that it must be recorded. It was during this period that the famous Champions British Justice and Cissbury Adventure featured in the kennel; both of these dogs left their impression on the dogs and bitches which followed, in a most significant way.
Much of the popularity of the Labrador today is due to Lady Howe’s love and devotion. To this day her written words can be taken as an inspiration to those endeavouring to produce the genuine dual purpose dog. In the Club Year Book of 1932 she wrote ... ... ‘Happily the majority of the dogs that have won CC’s have qualified in the field, either by being awarded a Working Certificate or by winning at trials ... ... It is sincerely to be hoped that such a state will long continue and that Labradors may, for many years to come, have representatives of the breed that compete successfully not only in their own classes but in classes open to all varieties, and show that working gundogs should be so high in quality and symmetrical in shaped that they can hold their own amongst the best show dogs of the day.’
During the later years of her life Lady Howe was supported by a strong Committee and various Assistant Secretaries, but there is no doubt that to the end, she was at the helm of the Club. Her passing marked the last link with those original founding Members of the Club, but her work and influence on the breed is felt to this day.
Jo Coulson 1991
Chairman 1916 - 1935
Lord Knutsford took office as the Club Chairman in 1916 (as the Hon Arthur Holland-Hibbert) and continued at eh helm until his death in 1935. Much credit must go to him for his diplomatic Chairmanship during the formative years of the breed and also for his own place as a Labrador breeder of note.
Lord Knutsford acquired his first Labrador in 1884, Sybil, a bitch closely bred back to Netherby Boatswain was described as a ‘wonderful good bitch, nose, pace, endurance and marking’. She was mated to a dog from Lord Malmesbury’s kennel and thus the Munden line began. Munden Sixty, the result of a mating between Munden Sarah (a Sybil granddaughter) and the Duke of Buccleuch’s Nith (a Malmesbury Tramp grandson), born in 1897 was a much loved dog. When he died Lord Knutsford wrote ’To the everlasting grief of all who knew him, this splendid dog died in August 1907’. Sixty was the sire of a bitch which was to become perhaps the most famous of all the early Labradors, for it was she, Munden Single, whose impact on the field trial world would change the pattern of working gundogs for all time.
Munden Single was born in 1899, her mother, Munden Scottie, had been acquired from the Duke of Buccleuch’s kennel. Her breeding was therefore almost pure Buccleuch and Malmesbury. Single was destined to forge a path both at field trials and shows which all others have sought to follow subsequently. Single had already won prizes in the show ring, including a CC at the KC Show, when, in 1904, she was entered in the IGL field trial at Sherbourne. As the first Labrador ever to appear at a field trial naturally she was closely observed by all. The newspapers of the day recorded:
Only those who were at the Meeting know how very nearly the Stake was carried off by the finest Labrador bitch ever seen on or off the bench. We refer to the Hon Mr Holland-Hibbert’s blue blooded Munden Single - up to a certain point nothing could have stopped her winning the highest honours at the trial. One of the best shots in England, a man who has handled retrievers all his life, declared to us that Single was the best game-finder and the steadiest retriever he had ever seen.
Sadly, she was not to win, she mouthed a bird when bringing it to hand. Lord Knutsford wrote in his record book ‘she was too gross and I was to blame for not getting her finer. She was out of breath after a strong runner and resented its struggles’. Single had however, done enough, Labradors were on the map well and truly. She won a CoM at that trial and went on to win others and continued to win well on the bench. When she died in 1909, her body was preserved and put on display, it is believed still to be held in a museum vault. Lord Knutsford wrote ‘It is a bad representation’.
Lord Knutsford regularly showed his dogs in the early days and enjoyed some considerable success. In 1904 he won the first bitch CC ever awarded with Munden Single and Munden Sentry won the only dog CC awarded in 1905. In 1909 Munden Sooty won two CC’s at Crufts and Darlington. In fact, during the first six years, when a total of 29 CC’s were available, dogs owned by Lord Knutsford, or bred from Munden dogs, won 15 CC’s.
There were many successful litters bred over the 50 years that Lord Knutsford kept Labradors. Although they are too numerous to mention individually, one litter must be recorded. In 1923 Munden Scarcity was mated to Dual Ch Banchory Bolo; there were six surviving puppies. Lord Knutsford kept two, Solo, a dog and Singer, a bitch; a bitch was given to His Majesty the King and a dog went to Lady Howe. Lady Howe’s puppy turned out to be Ch Banchory Danilo, a dog described by Lord Knutsford as ‘winning more championships than any dog ever known - or nearly so.’ Munden Solo also did well at shows, at Crufts in 1927 he was entered in 10 classes, won 6, was second in 2 and third in another. The judge wrote of him ‘if there had been a little more of him in size, I think he would have been very near perfection.’
Lord Knutsford was a great protector of the breed, he frequently went into print to defend the Labrador. There were constant disputes as to the breed’s origins and Lord Knutsford was tireless in his endeavours to get to the true beginnings. There are nots of conversations with Major Radclyffe and Mr Stuart-Menzies and letters to and from other early breeders. His kennel records describe dogs variously as being Newfoundland-type, Labrador-type long and rough coated, smooth coated and frequently they had white markings.
Like so many other kennels, Munden had to endure a number of serious distemper outbreaks. Many promising puppies and indeed some good adults were lost. Lord Knutsford worked very hard to find a solution to the scourge. Having had little success in his approaches to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Royal Veterinary College, he finally persuaded the Editor of The Field to set up an investigation into the disease. Funds were raised, the research was successful and a vaccine was eventually produced in 1929. The Daily Telegraph newspaper of that year reported that two vaccines were now available, albeit in very small supplies. The report went on ... ... ‘dog owners have every reason to be grateful to Mr Holland Hibbert for the idea and to the great sporting newspaper for the manner in which it has been made possible.’
It is fitting that the life of this dedicated gentleman came to an end at a Club field trial at Idsworth in 1935. He collapsed whilst making his traditional speech to the Members. Lady Knutsford wrote later to Lady Howe, that she was thankful that his death had taken place at Idsworth amongst friends so deeply attached to him.
I am indebted to the present Lord Knutsford and to the Holland-Hibbert family, who still live at Munden, for allowing me access to Lord Knutsford’s personal kennel records. I am pleased to record that there are still Labradors owned by the family, at Munden.
Jo Coulson, 1991
Vice-Chairman 1947 - 1959
Mr Saunders was a gentleman who took great interest in country activities. His favourite pastimes were river fly-fishing and shooting (preferably with a good retriever at his side). He shot over Flatcoats originally, changing to
Every Liddly dog had to be a good worker; if they had good looks as well, that was considered a bonus. When the first yellows came into the kennel, (Liddly Butterscotch and Liddly Caramel), Mr Saunders was very critical of their working ability. He said they were faint-hearted and fussy about entering dense cover when out shooting. Many years later, however, during the war years, Liddly Cyder became one of his favourite constant companions in the field.
Mr Saunders trained all his dogs to the gun personally, except during the war years, when a few were sent to
The first Liddly Champion was Tar of Hamyax, he gained his title in 1927 and he is behind every Liddly which followed over the years. Liddly Geranium and Liddly Jonquil, the first home bred dogs to become champions, were the first of many. The line continued unbroken until the last Champion, Liddly Buddleia, was made up in 1970. Buddleia’s older half sister, Ch Liddly Cornflower has a particular place in the Club history. She is one of the few
Mr Saunders served the Club in various capacities over the years. He started on the Shows Sub-committee in 1936, joined the main committee in 1937 and was Vice Chairman from 1947-1959. He was a very active Member of the Kennel Club, serving on the General Committee for 30 years, was Chairman of the Show Regulations committee and served on the Crufts committee. Mr Saunders was also a Vice President of the International Gundog League Retriever Society. He became the President of the Club in 1973, a position he held until his death in 1974.
President 1961 - 1972
The first president, appointed in 1961, was Lord Rank, whose Scotney Kennel housed many top winning field trial dogs, Pointers as well as Labradors. As many as thirty dogs were kept at a time, with three resident trainers, Messrs Brunt, Manners and Munroe.
The influence of the
One of the greatest dogs to come out of the Scotney Kennel must surely have been Jingle, born in 1957, sired by Scotney Dusty ex Madcap Moya; this dog started his field trial career in 1958 by winning no less than five Certificates of Merit. In the following three years he went on to win twelve open stakes and was placed in 15 more, a very remarkable achievement. Fortunately, Jingle proved to be equally successful as a stud dog, number other Field Trial Champions amongst his progeny.
Born two years later than Jingle, FT Ch Scotney Crikleybarrow Pebble had a similarly successful career. During four years of open stake competition, this dog a grandson of both FT Ch Grouseadee and FT Ch Glenhead Zuider, achieved ten firsts and at least twenty four places in open stakes. He was 4th in the Retriever Championships in 1963 and 2nd in 1964.
These two dogs were trained and handled throughout their careers by Mr Alf Manners, who told me that at Scotney, the trainers were each allowed to pick the puppy of their choice and train it right through. Mr Manners is very proud that, after the death of Lord Rank, he was given a beautiful portrait of Jingle, which now hangs in pride of place in his home at Sutton Scotney. During the era of Jingle and Pebble, the Rank/Routledge Cup, presented by the Kennel Club annually for the Retriever gaining the most points in open stakes, was won by the Scotney Kennel six times in seven years.
Lord Rank was a great benefactor to the field trial world, many trials being held at Sutton Scotney for Pointers and Setters as well as Retrievers. Indeed one of Lord Rank’s pleasures was to hold ‘private’ field trials inviting small groups of his friends to bring their dogs along for a day’s sport. Mrs Radclyffe speaks with affection of the happy times she spend there on those occasions. The Retriever Championships which was held at Sutton Scotney in 1953 was a particularly memorable occasion, not only was it the first time that the Championship was held over three days, but also for the care that Lord Rank had taken to ensure that it would be a success. Mr Peter Fraser wrote after the Stake ... ... “at the conclusion of the 1953 Retriever Championship the seal was set on the most wonderful climax of any field trial season ever held in this country. The Championship took three days of splendid shooting with a bag of 259 head shared between 24 dogs. The first day’s bag was 106 and at the end of the day 9 dogs were eliminated; by midday on the second day, 3 more had been eliminated; and by the end of that day 8 dogs only were left for the final day. The bag for the second day was 99 and the remaining 54 head were shared between the 8 best dogs in the country. Those who saw the start of the third day were treated to the finest spectacle of dog work that this writer has ever seen”. Mrs Heywood-Lonsdale, whose dog was reserve had 33 retrievers over those three days!
Lord Rank first jointed the committee in 1946 and continued to serve until his death in 1972. From 1961 he held office as the President of the club and his interest and involvement in all the Club activities was of great significance. It is interesting to note from the minute book of the day, that when the club Gold Jubilee Dinner and Dance was being planned in
Vice Chairman 1960 - 1974
Lady Hill-Wood came into Labradors because her mother was a Buccleuch, one of the earliest families to own and to import
Her favourite dog was FT Ch Hiwood Chance, born in 1928. Unfortunately her line was lost during the war but Lady Hill-Wood managed to keep a nucleus going by breeding from a bitch called Bustle. At the end of the war she had Hiwood Peggy, by Dual Ch Staindrop Saighdear.
FT Ch Hiwood Gypsey was the dam of four Field Trial Champions, FT Ch Hiwood Dipper won the Retriever Championship in 1960 and FT Ch Dacre Hiwood Frank in 1964. This latter dog was owned by Anne Hill-Wood but handled in the Championship by her mother as it was decided she was the better handler!
Anne Hill-Wood went to
Dipper, in spite of winning the Championships and also winning a CC at
There were of course far fewer field trials then, although not the enormous number of people trying to get into them that there are today (1990). Lady Howe was difficult to beat and it was not unknown for judges to award equal firsts in order to avoid putting her second! Later dead heats were disallowed by the Kennel Club.
For a long period of her life Lady Hill-Wood was restricted to keeping very few dogs as she lived in
Lady Hill-Wood feels that dogs in present day trials are not up to the standards of the old days, particularly in marking. She feels that this is partly due to the fact that the only chance most dogs get of walking-up nowadays is at a trial. She also feels that novice stakes are made too difficult so that there is not enough different between them and open stakes.
The Hill-Woods have sent a great many dogs to
Susan Scales and Peter Dick
Chairman 1961 - 1980
Vice Chairman 1959 - 1960
Mr Maurice Gilliat had his first Labrador whilst he was a teenager and still at school. The bitch, of unknown breeding, was a gift from an uncle, who was impressed by young Maurice’s interest in country life. Every spare moment during school holidays was spent training the bitch, which was then taken up to Scotland each year on a shooting holiday. Some years later, Maurice when shooting in Scotland with an old school friend who had two Labradors, one of which he just couldn’t get on with. Maurice, who recognised the beauty of the bitch, was delighted when his friend offered to give her to him as a gift. She was Liddly Peregrine, bred by Mr Saunders in 1927 by ch Tatler of Whitmore ex Toddy of Whitmore. Peregrine and Maurice went to their first show in 1928, getting a third prize; she was later bred from and shown throughout the mid 1930’s with some success.
In 1934 Mr Gilliat bought two bitches which were to form the foundation of the Holton Kennel. They were Kwa, bred by E Holland (Esle Peter ex Bessie) and Towyriver Bee bred by W Jones, (Towyriver Barney ex Towy Belle). Kwa was mated to a Peregrine son and produced Holton Diver (2 CC’s), Holton Darnsel and Holton Dusk. In 1937 Bee was mated to ch Liddy Jonquil and produced the beautiful Ch Holton Joyful. Joyful was the best Labrador puppy at Crufts in 1938 and returned there in 1939 to win her first CC under Lady Howe; three more CC’s followed the same year. In those days, to become a champion, a Labrador had to gain a qualifying certificate at a field trial and Lady Howe, concerned that the impending war would leave many good dogs without the title, arranged a special trial on her own ground in October 1939. Joyful excelled herself by retrieving twelve birds and thus she became the first Holton Champion.
Mr Gilliat always aimed to produce a dual purpose dog, he maintained that Labradors should always be bred to the Breed Standard and that brains and good looks must go together. There have been at least six Champions apart from Joyful: Holton Pipit, Holton Lancelot and Holton Baron in the UK. Holton Tranquil and Holton Welkin in the USA and Holton Focus in Australia. Ch Holton Baron, the most famous of the Holtons, held the breed CC record for many years with 25 CC’s. Born in 1951, Baron was a direct descendant of Kwa through Holton Diver. He was the smallest of a litter of eleven puppies, eight of which were dogs. Fortunately, Mr Gilliat decided to try to rear them all. Baron showed his great character and determination and came through to be the star of the kennel, he won at least 85 first prizes at championship shows during his career and four awards at trials.
In the 1950’s, when the kennel was at its peak, three litters a year were often bred. There were problems to contend with, not least of which was hardpad, which sadly resulted in the loss of one complete litter. Most of the other dogs in the kennel were affected, including a most promising 9 month old bitch. Her two litter brothers sadly died, but with careful nursing she was saved; she went on to become Ch Holton Pipit.
Mr Gilliat trained and worked all his dogs and although he took part in field trials, he felt that he could not compete at the highest levels as he didn’t have the training facilities or birds to present a dog up to championship level. All his dogs however achieved at least a Certificate of Merit at trials.
He showed and worked his dogs regularly from 1937 through to the early 1960’s. His daughter Daphne, now Mrs Walter, shared his enthusiasm and in the later years, it was she who took on the task of breeding and rearing the puppies. He was a very popular judge, both at field trials and shows. In the show ring he judged all the gundog breeds and was often called upon to officiate as Best in Show judge. He judges in several overseas countries including South Africa. The highlight of his judging career must have been when he judged Best in Show at Crufts in 1969.
Mr Gilliat was a very active member of the Kennel Club, serving on the Field Trial Committee as far back as 1953. He went on to serve on the General Committee from 1960 to 1973, was Chairman of the Disciplinary committee and the Finance and General Purpose Committee. In 1973 he was appointed as a trustee of the Kennel Club and a few years later became a Vice President. Having joined the Labrador Retriever Club in 1936, Mr Gilliat was elected to the committee in 1946, became Vice Chairman in 1959 and in 1961 succeeded Lady Howe as Chairman, a position he held until 1980.
During the later years Mr Gilliat passed the management of the kennel solely to his daughter, Mrs Walter. The latest Holtons, born in 1990 are the eighteenth generation of direct descendancy from the first bitches. Unfortunately, due to Mrs Walter’s business obligations, the dogs are only lightly shown now, and there are only occasional litters, but every car is taken to maintain the type, character and quality which Mr Gilliat strived so hard to perfect. Both Mr Gilliat’s son, David Gilliat and his grandson Alexander Walter now share the Holton affix with Mrs Walter.
Vice Chairman 1916 - 1947
The first Vice-Chairman of the Club, Major Portal was appointed in 1916 and served in that role until 1947, a remarkable 31 years of dedicated service. Major Portal was the owner of the famous dog, Flapper. Born in 1902 by Barnett’s Stag ex Betsay, Flapper’s ancestry is pure Buccleugh and Malmesbury blood, his great-great-grandsire being Malmesbury Sweep.
He came into Major Portal’s ownership when he was 18 months old and very quickly a remarkable working partnership developed between man and dog. In 1906 Flapper was second in both the IGL and the KC Stakes, the first
Mated to the Duchess of Hamilton’s field trial winner Dungavel Juno, Flapper produced the trial winning sisters Dungavel Phoebe and Jet and Champions Dungavel Thor and Dido. His son, Lift, owned by Major Browne, when mated to the same owner’s Nell, produced Velvet, the bitch destined to enjoy her own place in the record books, for she, when mated to Hyde Ben produced the foundation stock of Major and Mrs Wormald’s Knaith Kennel. A Flapper great-granddaughter, Wemyss Rachael, holds the unique distinction of having produced three different title holders: Dual ch Flute of Flodden, FT Ch Roxana and Ch Flapper of
Flapper was described as towering head and shoulders above his contemporaries and a pillar of the first magnitude in the breed’s history. Lady Howe wrote of Flapper (and Capt A Butler’s FT Ch Peter of Faskally) ... ... “They have done an enormous amount to popularise the breed. Not only did these two great dogs prove winners themselves at trials but when reading a list of dogs who progeny have won, one is struck by the fact that their progeny is three times more numerous than that of any Retriever, the next on the list being another
Major Portal bred a number of successful dogs and continued trialling for some years. He was recognised as an excellent field trial judge and judged regularly from 1909 to well into the 1930’s having judged the Retriever championship on a number of occasions. In addition to his service to the Labrador Retriever Club, he also served on the KC Field Trial Council for a number of years.
In 1910 Major Portal wrote an article for The Field, giving his theories on the origins of the
Major Portal continue to serve on the Committee until his death in 1956. His 40 years of service to the club and the Breed were acknowledged by Lady Howe when she said how much he would be missed and what great support he had given to the breed throughout his lifetime.