THE EARLY YEARS
BY GEOFF ALLEN
The year 2006 saw the Club celebrating its Diamond Jubilee (60 years) of recognition by and affiliation to the Kennel Club. However, although 1946 was the official year of affiliation, the Club was actually formed four years earlier. In 1942 there were only three specific Labrador Clubs for the whole of Great Britain. Those being, The Labrador Club, The Yellow Labrador Club and The Northumberland and Durham Labrador Retriever Club.
On the 31st October 1942 a meeting of Labrador enthusiasts was held at the office of Mr J Severn, an auctioneer of Alfreton, Derbyshire, with a view to forming a Labrador Retriever Club to serve the Midland Counties. The ten people present proposed that a club be formed and its objectives being 1. to encourage the breeding of pure Labradors 2. to conserve the best type of working dogs 3. to encourage field trials 4. to ensure qualified judges at shows and adequate classification is given 5. to encourage the amateur exhibitor It was proposed by Mr Severn and seconded by Mr Hart that the club should be called The Midland Counties Labrador Retriever Club. This motion was carried. A proposal was put forward that should the first choice of the club name be rejected, the alternative name was to be The British Labrador Club.
Officers to the Club were elected and Mr J Severn was duly elected as secretary. It was agreed to approach Mr Chadburn of Papplewich Hall, Nottingham to be President.
The membership fee was agreed at 10/6p (52.1/2p ) per year with a number of Vice Presidents being invited at a fee of 1 guinea (£1.05p). This was quite a considerable amount of money at that time, especially as it was also the middle of the Second World War (1939-1945). It was then proposed that the Secretary should write to the Kennel Club for official sanction. The next meeting was held on 6th December 1942 when the Secretary reported that Mr Chadburn had accepted the position of President, a position he held until 1966 (the Chadburn family still live at Papplewich Hall to this day). The Secretary also stated that a number of Vice Presidents had been appointed including the late Gwen Broadley (Sandylands) and that thirty-seven members had paid their subscription.
The Kennel Club replied to the Club's application stating that they were holding over their decision until the January 1943 meeting. At this meeting the first set of Club rules were drawn up and many remain in place to this day. In February 1943 disappointment came in a letter from the Kennel Club stating that they could not sanction a new club until after the war. It was decided to reply to the Kennel Club asking them to reconsider, however this was not to be. Undaunted, the committee decided to continue until such time as recognition was approved. During the next three years meetings were held periodically. The Secretary reported in January 1944 that the activities of the Club had been restricted very much during the past year owing to the Kennel Club's refusal to sanction its title but, in spite of this, good work had been done. It was reported that 42 proposed members had paid their subscriptions. At a previous meeting, several members had suggested that their subscriptions be used to guarantee Labrador classes at various shows. This had been done with splendid results. Entries at shows ranged from 26 dogs in 4 classes to 73 dogs in 8 classes. which would be considered a very good entry by today’s standards. On 29th April 1944 a Labrador Puppy Parade and Exemption Show was held at Alfreton with the proceeds going to the Dogs of Great Britain Red Cross Fund. For the year of 1945 I could not find any reports of activities or meetings that were held. The only mention is in the Secretary’s report at the AGM held in March 1946 where he stated the various charities that had been helped and also noted the continuance of guaranteeing of classes at the various shows.
AFFILIATION TO THE KENNEL CLUB
In February 1946 came the recognition of the Club's title and affiliation to the Kennel Club. A fee of one guinea (£1.05p) was duly paid and so commenced the activities of The Midland Counties Labrador Retriever Club. The first event was a rally held at Alfreton in May which, reportedly, proved to be an enlightening and enjoyable afternoon. On 6th July 1946 an open show was held at the Skating Rink, Derby, with Mr W East deputising as judge for The Countess of Howe, who was unavailable. Although incurring a financial loss of £0/8/6 ½p (.42½p), the show was hailed as a great success. September 17th & 18th saw the first post war field trials held in Great Britain. These were held under the kind patronage of the President and took place at Papplewich. An Open & Novice Stake took place on the two respective days. The Cards at both events were quickly filled.
The Club's first championship show took place at Derby on 23rd November when Mr D McDonald was the judge. On November 30th another field trial (a Non-Winners Stake) was held, again drawing a large number of applications for nomination, many of whom had to be disappointed owing to the stake being quickly filled. Thus a first year of considerable activity for the Club was concluded. YEAR BOOK The Club’s first Year Book was produced in 1947, edited by Jessie Taylor. This listed 239 members.
The membership today is around 1000. This includes around 350 overseas members.
Incidentally, the 1947 Year Book was the first ever ‘Year Book’ devoted to the Labrador Retriever.