The London and Home Counties English Springer Spaniel Society started at the beginning of a new world era, immediately after the 2nd World War when Europe was getting back on its feet after physical and political upheaval. With a new vision, free thinking and the awakening of a hibernating population, the dog world started to develop once more. Gundogs were already an important part of war torn Britain, with many families relying on the “fruits of the countryside” as a welcome addition to their rationed food.
From these dogs a new show scene started to emerge, although the main show in the diary, Crufts had yet to start up again. It would be 1948 before we saw its re-emergence with BIS going to the father of past SESSS member, Jennifer Lloyd Carey…..H S Lloyd’s Cocker Spaniel, Tracy Witch of Ware
The formation of an ESS club was a much needed boost to the region and their respective owners in London and the surrounding Home Counties. Formed on 23rd October 1946 the Society serviced the needs of an ever expanding, already popular breed.
The Minutes of the inaugural Meeting noted the attendance of such notable personages as H.S. Lloyd, Dorothy Morland Hooper (of the famous ' Ranscombe ' affix) and author of the 'English Springer Spaniel’ a standard text on the Breed first published in 1963 and Major Horsborough to name but three. It was proposed that Mr Lloyd took the Chair. Then followed what must be the most profound motion ever passed by a Committee
Major Horsborough proposed that the Society be “Open to the world”. Alas, we have lost David Webster, our President who died in office, he was the last member who could recall 1946.
Notable facts about 1946; A year where we saw a chilling term used for the very first time in a speech by Winston Churchill. In his address to Congress at Fulton, Missouri. “From Stettin (Szczecin) on the Baltic to Trieste on the Adriatic, an IRON CURTAIN has descended across the continent." This term was to last for another 50 years! America exploded an atomic bomb at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. It cost £8 million in those days to build. In the same year hostilities broke out against the French in Indochina. In South America Juan Peron became President of Argentina. Italy abolished its monarchy and the Philippines gained independence from the USA. On the home front rationing got worse. Butter, margarine and cooking fat was cut from 226 gms to 200 gms a week. The Ministry of food helpfully circulated a recipe for Squirrel Pie! Bread was also rationed in the UK due to the slow economic growth. Goodness only knows what they fed the dogs. Not all was doom and gloom the first Bikini, invented by French engineer Louis Réard and fashion designer Jacques Heim appeared at a fashion show at Piscine Molitor in Paris. The inaugural ceremony of the UN General Assembly opened in London. Norwegian Trygve Lie elected first Secretary-General....Not sure which was more important!! With the economy slowly beginning to revive the following prices set a new standard for the cost of living; Average wage £4.50 for 48 hr week, bread 2p per loaf, although still rationed, beer 3p per pint. The average saloon car £400, and the average house price was £1957. Petrol was 5p per gallon…if you could get it! The British Broadcasting Corporation introduced. the first TV licence, at a fee of £2.00, although a radio licence was already in existence. In sport, Lovely Cottage won the first post-war Grand National horse race and Airborne won the Derby. Liverpool pipped Manchester United to the Division One football league championship by just one point. In December 1946 Australia won the Ashes cricket by an innings and 332 runs. We heard the first playing of "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" from the partially animated Disney movie, Song of the South The publishing of Waugh's, Brideshead Revisited and the birth of singer/actress Liza Minelli, unfortunately we also saw the deaths of writer H G Wells and actor W C Fields. If we believe global warming is a new phenomena, think again…..A record was set on the 4th November 1946, The warmest UK November day ever recorded was in Prestatyn, north Wales, when temperatures reached an impressive 21.7 degrees!
Three ESS breed clubs held shows during 1946. The English Springer Spaniel Club had Mr E Trimble judging where he awarded the Dog CC, his first to Lady Lambe’s Whaddon Chase Bonny Tom and the Bitch CC to Gwen Broadley’s Sandylands Sherry, who was made up the following year. The Midland ESSS had Mr W Humphry officiating. He also found the merits in Whaddon Chase Bonny Tom, who took the Dog CC, his second with Morgan’s Leymore Bink Bin taking the Bitch CC, which was to be her only CC. The last breed show was the ESS club of Northern Ireland where Gwen Broadley travelled to judge. Her Dog CC was Joe Braddon’s Starshine of Ide, who was made up the following year, with Mrs Dawson’s Carnfield Christabelle, again being made up the following year, taking the Bitch CC. It wasn’t until 1947 that the London & Home Counties ESSS held their first and only Championship show with popular judge Mr S H Till awarding Dog CC, his second, to Broadley’s Sandylands Shot and Lady Lambe’s Waddon Chase Snipe taking her crowning Bitch CC.
Several Championship Shows in 1947 were held by clubs which no longer exist such as Sandy & District Horticultural Society where Carnfield Christabelle took the bitch ticket; Wembley & District Canine Society where Christabelle’s kennel mate C Field Marshalltook the dog ticket and Altrincham Agricultural Society where Ch. Invader of Ide won the dog CC. Amongst the most successful at this time was Mrs Gwen Broadley with her Sandylands kennel. Being shown were Champions Sandylands Sherry, Shot, Showgirl and Shrubly all of whom have had an influence on the modern day springer. Gwen who was born in 1906 started her illustrious dog career with a Labrador but it was in the 1930’s that she moved to the midlands to set up and manage a boarding and breeding kennel at Shotton for Michael Whithers. With Gwen in charge the Shotton prefix rose to the top in English Springers. This proved a valuable apprenticeship and as we all know Gwen went on to found one of the most famous Labrador kennels in the world, but she obviously maintained a soft spot for our breed. Another top winning dog of this time was Ch. Starshine of Ide owned by the late Joe ‘take em round’ Braddon. He won four of the limited CC’s on offer in 1947.
The London & Home Counties ESS Society held meetings where some interesting matters were discussed and decided upon;
Subscription fees for Ordinary Members would be 10 shillings (50p nowadays); Vice Presidents would pay £1-1-0 and Gamekeepers/ex gamekeepers and professional trainers 5 shillings (25p), all payable on 1st September.
The Committee would hold Field Trials as soon as possible.
An advert for the Championship show would cost 12/6d (62p) for a half page & £1-1-0 for a full page.
Entry fees would be 1/6d (7p), catalogue 2shillings (10p) and 2/6d (12p) per dog for benching.
Moving on to 1948, the Society now had 70 members but this was deemed insufficient to ensure success.
Lack of funds was attributed to the expense of shows held during the year.
A raffle was suggested where eggs would be donated as a prize - after all it was post war!
A communication from the Kennel Club regarding Breed Standard was read, discussed and generally agreed, with the exception of colour which should be liver/white; black/white or either of these colours with tan markings definitely not solid colours or any of the roan colourings, red, orange, blue etc. Nothing has changed in 60 years!
At the AGM of 28th January 1956 Mr Archie Phipp was elected President and Chairman was Mr Uppadine. The Treasurer reported a balance of £70-12.-6d due to much hard work and appeals to the generosity of a small number of enthusiasts. The meeting discussed the Kennel Club’s request for the qualifier to continue in its present form. 11 members voted for continuation and 15 against.
Another 10 years on and the AGM in 1966 was chaired by Colin Muihead (Shipden) although the Society Chairman was Dr. Campbell-Durie. By this time Mary Lyons (Kylemore) was a committee member along with Frances Sherwood (Woodbay). The East Anglian Cocker Club had been approached about a combined Open Show but they never took up the offer.
The Secretary, Alf Spearing reported that they were looking forward to the day when the bank balance reached three figures, it was in fact £52.3.6d. Mrs Ilsa Durie was made a Life Honorary President and Miss D. Morland Hooper was approached with a view to being President of the Society, however she declined although she would help with finding grounds for a Field Trail. Mrs Olga Hampton was asked to join the Committee and she replied that she would if we held our show nearer to her, but the Society were clear that they represented the South and were not prepared to go further North.
At the AGM held on the 11th March 1973 substantial changes occurred in the holders of the main offices. The Chairman became Peter Odell, the Treasurer Iris Brooks and Secretary Don Miller. The subsequent Open Show at Chingford drew a record entry, but unfortunately there were absentees due to hardpad in the Sussex area'.
At the AGM held in 1974 two particular matters of importance occurred. It was confirmed that the application for Championship Show status in 1975 had been granted by the Kennel Club. In addition a Motion was carried that ' the Secretary should apply to the Kennel Club for the name of the Society to be changed to the 'Southern English Springer Spaniel Society'. It was felt that with the granting of Championship Show status the Society should endeavour to encompass the whole of the South in its area of activities; the former name by comparison perhaps being rather restrictive.
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. Graham Osborne was also elected Chairman.
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. He finally retired with a mammoth 62 CCs.
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.
Our current membership has grown to over 300, including many overseas patrons. We have extended the Year Book to a mammoth 250+ pages, we introduced colour pages for the first time in the 2006 edition and over the years have featured ESS from all over the world. The "Southern Line" newsletter is produced twice a year. We have also maintained our stand holding space at Crufts to include the famous “Southern Shop”, along with organising and supporting the KC Discover Dogs exhibition, originally at Earls Court, now at London ExCel.
To continue the story for prosperity it was March 2020 that Lockdown was introduced to the UK. This was to deal with the spreading pandemic caused by Covid. We were fortunate to run our club championship show in February and amid the gathering crisis, Crufts also took place in March. Shows were cancelled for the rest of the year . It was not until June 2021 that the first championship show went ahead at Southern Counties. Due to the loss of shows in the previous year societies held two championship shows in an effort to reclaim the lost CCs. Come the end of 2021 the show calendar was literally full to bursting with show dates. In fact we held our club championship show in conjunction with our open show on 21st September after securing a large, but ring covered outdoor venue in Hertfordshire. This was the Dobermann Club training grounds which has become our home venue. In doing so we have moved our traditional championship show date from third week in February to our standard open show date, mid July. There is no doubt that with rising costs and the pandemic, exhibit numbers were falling. The average ESS entry at general championship shows dropped to approx 65. Many local show clubs were folding, mainly due to lack of personnel wishing to act on committee. At the April 2023 AGM Graham Osborne stood down from the committee after 41 years, 22 of those as Chairman. The AGM offered him a Vice Presidency which he was honoured to accepted.
So you see Major Horborough’s proposal that the Society be “Open to the world” wasn’t too wide of the mark after all, although in fairness his global prophecy was considerably helped by the World Wide Web and www.sesss.org
All that’s left to say is a big thank you to all of the past and present officers and committee along with each and every member and willing helper who have made the Southern such a dynamic and historic Society. I trust future generations can look forward to the next 70 years with the same expectancy, enthusiasm and dedication toward the Society and the breed we so dearly love. Graham Osborne
SESSS Secretaries: 1946-1950 Miss A.A. Roberts 1950-1957 Mr Woodham 1957-1963 Mrs Mary Kilby 1963-1965 Mrs Jenkins 1965-1973 Mr A. Spearing 1975-1982 Don Miller 1983-1988 Pat Hollywood 1988-1993 Graham Osborne 1993-1996 Fran Glendinning 1996-2001 Brian Evans 2001-2016 Celia Woodbridge 2016-2021 Liz Young 2021-Judi Whitworth
Compiled by Graham Osborne, Brian Evans and Maureen Read