History of the Southern English Springer Society

Serving the south for over 70 years


And so the first Championship Show of the SESSS took place on the 22nd February 1975 at Wooton Bassett, Nr Swindon when the Judge, Jean Taylor (Cleavehill) attracted 143 dogs , making an entry of 291. The Dog CC went to Mr R. Jackson's Moorcliff Regent , the Bitch CC and BIS to Mr L. Antcliff's Majeba Meadow Mist. Best Puppy was Mr and Mrs Sheppard's Cliffhill Julius. This was also the occasion of the first of the ' Springer Special' awards, sponsored by Jean Taylor. The top Dog of 1974 was Ch Pericles of Truelindale, and top Bitch Sh Ch Pandora of Truelindale.

In 1978 the decision was taken to publish a Yearbook. The 72 pages of the first issue contained adverts from 24 members, and the welcome of Chairman David Webster '.. the earnest wish of your Officers and Committee that their endeavours should further our prosperity '. Although the Championship Show that year was rated a success ' …The quality of the sandwiches could have been better , and it was agreed that in future, labels should indicate their contents!'.

The 1982 issue contained a members advert with a classic definition of 'breed type'… "Still winning cards, cups, and anyone’s sandwiches. Offers his (not very) sincere apologies to all those nice Springer people who have lost portions of lunch to his greed and lack of principle. Also a special sorry concerning a delicious French Stick!"

The 1983 Book reported the death at 13 1/2 years of age of Sh Ch Hawkhill Connaught. Whilst himself the holder of 50 CC’s, his 25 Title offspring in the UK had at that time won 140 CCs between them. The Committee started research into Fucosidosis using the Institute of Child Health and Dr Bryan Winchester to help formulate a blood testing programme. Mass testing was introduced for the first time at the championship show in 1986 resulting in a fully supported published list in the 1988 Year Book.

By 1985 the Yearbook had expanded to 156 pages with 75 breed adverts .In seeking a successor as Patron of the Society that year, the author James Herriott was approached. Unfortunately he had to decline the offer due to poor health. The committee had corresponded with the Kennel Club to express concern at the possible ban on the docking of tails and removing of dew claws. The considered opinion at the time was that such legislation was unlikely to go through Parliament!!

That year also saw the Gundog Group at Crufts won by Sh Ch Graftonbury Genghis Khan. It was Mickie George who made Khan BOB. How poignant then, following her sad passing in December 2006, we are reminded of the fact that it was her resolution that helped change the name of L&HCESSS to the SESSS in 1974.

Moving on to 1988 the membership adopted Jean Taylor and Ellen Dobson as Hon. Life members together with immediate past Secretary Pat Hollywood. The Southern had held a fun day the previous year that started a movement of fund raising leading to the formation of ESS Welfare as an independent organisation.

The 1988 year book printed the first “Kennel Profile” which featured Cleavehill. This was also the year where we said goodbye to Madge Alder (Truelindale) breeder of the then bitch record holder with 32 CC’s Sh Ch Teesview Pandora of Truelindale.

The Society introduced the “Southern Line” in 1990, a biannual newsletter designed to enlighten the membership with general topics about the breed and the Club. The main issue in this year was tail docking, a debate that would go on through to 1995 where a change in the law was to see docking taken away from the experienced breeders and placed firmly in the hands of the Veterinary profession

In 1998 we had the reality of running two open shows with no Challenge Certificates available to the Society. This was due to a reduced allocation by the Kennel Club meaning that four regional breed clubs had to go on rotation. To help with the finances a Fun Day was skillfully organized by John Palmer that incorporated events which all ESS could enjoy whether show, working or pet. This was also the year where the Southern called a meeting of all 8 ESS breed clubs to start a consolidation of the A1 championship show judges list following recommendations from the newly formed KC Judges Working Party.

The beginning of the new millennium saw the first unified A1 & A3 judges list of the Joint English Springer Spaniel Judges Consortium (JESSJC)..The year 2000 also saw the loss of Ch Mompesson Remember Me at the age of 13, the bitch record holder with 55 CC’s.

The membership rates at the turn of the century were £9.00 single, £11.00 joint with overseas membership £17.00. It is a far cry from the early days, however the Society offered a greater range of benefits than ever before with a free Year Book and a twice yearly newsletter.

Celia Woodbridge was voted into office in 2001, which also saw the retirement from the committee of both David Webster and Mickie George after more than 25 years continuous service.

The past 60 years have seen some momentous occasions for our membership, especially in 2004 when Sh Ch Wadeson Inspector Wexford gained his 56th CC at WKC making Sinbad the all time breed record holder.

We have lost many breeders, judges, exhibitors and friends, not to mention all the wonderful dogs who have contributed so much to the breed over the years. We have seen breed records being broken with SESSS member’s multiple CC winners in Connaught, Remember Me and Inspector Wexford. Our archive section has rapidly expanded to record all these events, together with prudent investments such as a full set of Stud Books going back to 1902.