The Early Sheepdog Trials Project: Trials 1880 - 1889
NB Each trial is listed here under the first year in which it was held
THE 1880s: TRIALS 1880 - 1889
From 1880: KIRKBY STEPHEN SHOW
The Northern Echo for August 26 1880 reports that there was a sheepdog trial at Kirkby Stephen Show, which "occupied a long time". The winners it lists appear to be from the dog show rather than the trial.
The trial at Kirkby Stephen in September 1881 was the annual North West Counties SDTA trial (see under 1878).
See also Ravenstonedale 1892.
1880: MAIN LINE, PHILADELPHIA, USA
Jane Porter has in her collection a programme for a trial in the Main Line area of Philadelphia in September 1880. It was formerly in the possession of Don Bell, one of the founders of the North American Sheep Dog Society. Sheepdog trialling did not take off at that time, although dog shows did, and farmers' dogs continued to fulfil an important role in their owners' work. According to Jane, sheepdog trials were not reintroduced into the USA until the 1920s. A report of the Philadelphia trial appeared in a "Catalogue of Scotch Collies imported and selected by T S Cooper", later reprinted. Details, including a photo from Harper's Weekly for 8 November 1884 of the second placed dog, Tweed II, can be found here. The main class of the trial was won by T S Cooper's black and tan Oscar, imported from Mr Steel of Burnhead in Scotland, who had already won first prize for penning at the trial in Ayr in 1876. The winner of the young dogs class was also from Scotland, the year old Fanny, bred by John Fleming of Meadow Bank.
From 1881: BETWS GARMON, CAERNARFON, GWYNEDD
Barbara Collins in her 1994 'Guide to Sheepdog Trials in Britain & Ireland' tells us that this two day trial commenced in 1881, and continues to this day.
Y Genedl Cymreig for October 3rd 1899 carries an announcement of the Betws Garmon trial to be held on October 14th with three classes: Class 1, open to all comers, prizes of £4, £3, £2, entrance 5s; Class 2 open to dogs from North Wales that have not won more than £1 at a previous trial; prizes of £2, £1, £1, 10s, entrance 3s; Class 3, open to dogs that have not won any prize, prizes of £1, 15s, 10s, 5s, entrance 2s.
George Barcroft won a silver cup outright at this trial in 1901 for two consecutive wins, and also competed there in a two day trial in 1911. See the Barcroft chapter.
1881: LLANLLECHID, BANGOR
The North Wales Chronicle for December 3rd 1881 carries an advertisement for a trial at Tal'sarn Farm, Llanllechid on Thursday 22nd December 1881, the secretary being William Williams.
From 1881: SOUTHERN TASMANIAN AGRICULTURAL & PASTORAL SOCIETY (Australia)
Wayne McMillan's research indicates that trials "similar to those in vogue in... Westmoreland" were held for the first time at the show on 19th October 1881. Further trials were advertised for October 25 1882 and October 21 1885.
1882: JEDFOREST, SCOTTISH BORDERS
Eric Halsall reports in ‘British Sheepdogs’ that there were twelve entries at Jedforest in 1882. The trial was won by a gentle black and white bitch belonging to Tom Turnbull of Attonburn.
Eric Halsall reports in ‘British Sheepdogs’ that William Wallace of Otterburn’s run at this trial was notable for the fact that instead of the voice commands, which it appears had been usual up to that point, he used a mere hiss at hand, and with a low whistle at a distance.
1883: LLANSANNAN, ABERGELE, DENBIGH
North Wales Chronicle for October 13th 1883 announces a trial at Llansannan, Abergele on Friday 2nd November 1883 with a closing date of October 31st and an entrance fee of 3s6d. Our Dogs magazine for September 13th 1912 reports on the St George and District Sheepdog Trials held near Abergele. See under St George 1912.
1883: TENTERFIELD PASTORAL, AGRICULTURAL MINING & HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY (Queensland, Australia)
Wayne McMillan's research indicates that a two day trial, one of the first in the New England district, was held here on August 14 and 15 1883, reported in the Queenslander for 24 March.
1883: VICTORIAN POULTRY & DOG SOCIETY (Australia)
Wayne McMillan's research lists trials to held by the Society on Elsternwick Park Racecourse and reported in the Melbourne Argus - on July 21 1883 that a trial was to be held on July 27; and on August 7 1885 an advertisement for the trials to be held on August 15.
1883: TIMARU SHOW (New Zealand)
A letter in the Timaru Herald for 25 July 1883 written by William J Newton of Totara Valley sugegtss that a sheepdog trial should be held at Timaru Show instead of judging collies on their looks, which he describes as absurd. He concludes that sheepdog trialling "is one of the most interesting (events) in the Highland Agricultural Shows, and I do not see why it should not be so here". It is not clear whether his offer of prize money was taken up, as a report of the 1884 Timaru Show lists only what appear to be show classes.
1884: BRISBANE EXHIBITION (Australia)
Wayne McMillan's research indicates a report in the Brisbane Courier for August 22 1884 of the trial on the previous day.
1884: LLANGWM, CORWEN, CLWYD
An advertisement for a trial at Llangwm appears in Baner ac Amserau Cymri for February 20th 1884, the trial to be held on February 28th 1884 on ground close to the village. First Class, open to the world, prizes £5, £3, £1, entrance fee 5s; Second class open tob the world, but limited to dogs which have not won first or second prize in a previous competition. Prizes 40s, 20s, 10s, 5s; entrance fee 2s. Second class dogs to be on the field by 8.30am, first class dogs by 12 noon.
British Fancier magazine for March 24 1893 carries a detailed report of the two classes: second class won by O E Lloyd with Toss; and First, won by W Roberts' Handy.
1885: CILCEN, CLWYD
Baner ac Amserau Cymri for July 25 and 29 1885 both carry an ad for the Cilcen trial at Penbedw Park for Thursday August 20th.
1885: MASHAMSHIRE AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY SHOW
The Leeds Mercury for August 22 1885 reports on the showm held in a field behind the King's head, where the sheep dog trial winner penned three blackfaced mor sheep twice within a given time. The class, open to Mashamshire only, was for a "sheep dog, to be tried on day of show in penning sheep, which will be provided by the committee" 1st W Mallaby, 2nd W Dinsdale.
From 1885: VIVOD, LLANGOLLEN, CLWYD
Barbara Collins in her 1994 'Guide to Sheepdog Trials in Britain & Ireland' tells us that this unique trial started in 1885. There are two courses, one of which is over two hill fields and is notoriously difficult. The trial continues to this day, but was relaunched with a new committee after 2001.
George Barcroft competed at a "North Wales Sheep Dog Society" trials here on both the Tryncelyn and Vivod sides in the ‘open to the world’ Cambrian stakes and in the doubles in 1903 and again in 1911.
From 1885: (NORTH) WESTMORLAND
George Barcroft competed at the 24th annual North Westmorland trial at Ravenstonedale near Kirby Stephen with 37 open entries in 1909, which indicates a first trial in 1885. He had previously competed at Ravenstonedale in 1897. See the Barcoft chapter for details.
George Barcroft competed in a two day trial at Knock Moor near Appleby in 1904, and again at what were desciribed as North Westmoreland trials at Knock Moor in 1907, 1908 and 1909.
Manchester Courier for 1 September 1905 reports on the 21st annual Ravenstonedale (Westmorland) Sheep Dog Society trials (again indicating 1885 as the first year). J Mason was the winner.
The same newspaper for 21 October 1905 reports on a two day trial at Knock Moor, Appleby, where both local and open classes were won by J Scrivens of Ellerholme. It is not clear whether these two day trials at Knock Moor are North Westmorland trials or not.
Manchester Courier for 4 September 1908 carries a report of a trial with local and open classes at Ravenstonedale, but there is no mention of a show (see Ravenstonedale Show entry), so I think this may well be a North Westmorland or possible a Lake District Association trial. The winner of the local class was R Metcalfe's Sep and of the Open in a record time of five minutes without a suspicion of a fault by W Akrigg's Laddie.
Our Dogs for October 28th 1910 reports on the second day of the North Westmorland trials at Knock Moor on October 21st, when the eight highest pointed dogs ran in a second round, the aggregate score determining the prizes. First in the Open was J Tagg with Bap; in the Local class J Smith, Far Close with Bess.
See also Ravenstonedale 1892 and Gilsland, Carlisle 1885.
1885: GILSLAND, CARLISLE
Rawdon Lee in his 1890 book "A History.. of the Collie or Sheep Dog", gives details of a trial in 1885 at Gilsland near Carlisle. The drive was of 800 yards and the trial set in grounds of 90 acres. Could this have been the first of the North Westmoreland trials? See above.
1886: COBAR PASTORAL & AGRICULTURAL ASSOCIATION (Sydney, Australia)
Wayne McMillan's research indicates trials held here and reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, on July 9 1886, in each case reported the following day; on July 21 1887; July 26 1889; July 4 1890; June 22 1893 (reported in The Argus); June 9 1898. It is thought likely that there were also trials in 1888, 1891/2 and 1894/7.
1886: NORTHALLERTON AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY SHOW
A report of the Show in the Leeds Mercury for September 25th 1886 tells us that " a somewhat novel and exceedingly interesting part of the exhibition was the trial of sheep dogs in the enclosure". but there are no other details.
1885 or 1886: ABERGELE, NORTH WALES
A typed report in Barbara Carpenter's collection dated January 1st 1887 refers to the second trials having been held at Abergele the previous Monday, which would have been December 27th 1886. The first trial would thus probably have been around Boxing Day in 1885. The typed report indicates that this second trial was held in beautiful weather with a very large attendance of spectators. The judges were J Jones, Llandudno; Mr Kerfoot, Hendre Bach, Abergele; H Owen Melai, Abergele. In the Pensarn Stakes (for dogs which had never won a prize) the awards were: 1st Owen Williams, Penmenmawr, with Carlo; 2nd D Williams, Ysbyty, with Jenny; 3rd D Williams with Carlo; 4th M Owen, Llanfairfechan with Tan; 5th H Ellis, Bangor, with Jack. Some of the dogs "displayed very good aptitude for work, showing that with more training they will become excellent dogs". In the Abergele Stakes (all comers) 1st J Freme's Jet; 2nd D Rowlands' Jenny; 3rd J Evans' Lassie; 4th W Jones' Tom; 5th F Booth's Rag; 6th H Ellis's Tom; 7th T Davies' Handy. "Some capital work was done, which would do credit to any competitor". Of concern is the date of the trial: "beautiful weather" isn't common around Christmas Day.
Our Dogs for September 16th 1910 reports on an Oswestry trial held at Abergele Flower Show the previous week. In the Kinmel Park stakes, J Moses took the first three places, The "Llawyni" (probably Llwyni) Stakes were won by B B Lloyd, Betws -y-coed, and gthe Local stakes by J Partington.
See also under St George & District.
c1888: GWYDDEBWERN(?), NORTH WALES
The report of the Woodstock trial in 1890 tells us that Dash, a dog which competed at Woodstock, won the Geyddebwern trial, but the year is not stated; however, all the other trials successes listed in that report refer to 1888, 1889 or 1890. I have been unable to locate Gwyddebwern, but the reference may be to Gwyddelwern, near Corwen.
1888: ROYAL DUBLIN SHOW
Iris Combe, writing in her 1997 book "Rough Collie Records" reports that sheepdog trials were held in conjunction with Dublin Show from 1888. However, in a draft of another of her books, she writes that a trial at the St Patrick's Day 1888 Dog Show, held at the Royal Dublin Showground, was advertised, a small number of entries being received, but no competitors turned up on the day.
The report of the Woodstock trial in 1890 indicates that Nip, one of the dogs competing at Woodstock, had won the trial at Hereford in 1888.
c1888: KILCAM, DENBIGH
The report of the Woodstock trial in 1890 refers to a trial in Kilcam, Denbigh, probably in 1889, as having been won by Fly, the winner at Palé/Bala in 1889. Nip, another competitor at Woodstock in 1890 is listed as having come second at Kilcam in 1888.
1888: LEOMINSTER, HEREFORDSHIRE
The report of the Woodstock trial in 1890 indicates that Bob, one of the dogs which competed in front of Queen Victoria at Bala in 1889, had won the trial at Leominster in 1888.
The report of the Woodstock trial in 1890 refers to a trial in "Llanberris", as having been won twice by Fly, the winner at Palé/Bala in 1889. The Llanberis trials were from the context probably in 1888 and 1889.
Rawdon Lee in his 1890 book "A History.. of the Collie or Sheep Dog", refers to a trial having taken place at Llanberis, and although he does not give the date, 1888 or 1889 would fit neatly into the context.
'Our Dogs' for September 16 1899 carries a report of the trial here on September 7th, which regrets the disappointing attendance. The two classes were worked at the same time (the first reference I have found to this practice). In the Vaynol stakes, with 16 entries, Joseph Moses' Gem took first place, with Jonathan Barcroft second and third with Sall and Bess. In the Llanberis stakes (possibly a local class) there were 12 entries, the winner being Wm Pritchard's Nell. In the Champion stakes, Wm Jones' Carlo, fourth in the Open, came first, with Moses' Gem second and Barcroft's Bess third.
Rawdon Lee in his 1890 book "A History.. of the Collie or Sheep Dog", refers to a trial having taken place at Silecroft in the same patragraph as the reference to the Llanberis trial, which is believed to have started in around 1888.
From 1888: NEW CUMNOCK
Barbara Collins in her 1994 'Guide to Sheepdog Trials in Britain & Ireland' tells us that the New Cumnock trial has been held annually since 1888 and quotes the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: "The first sheep dog trials to be held in Scotland were held in field lent by E C Briges at Dalgig, New Cumnock, on 12th October 1888". The statement that this was the first Scottish trial should not be taken as fact - we already know of the Hawick trial in 1883 for example.
Eric Halsall reports in ‘British Sheepdogs’ on the New Cumnock trials of 1897 to 1900. In 1897, the top prize of £6 was won by John Hastings of Glenwhargen with the 18 month old Lock. Lock won again in 1898. In 1899, 600 people watched the 32 dogs which competed. In 1900, the course was covered in snow, and the event, with 31 entries, was won by Alex Millar with his five year old black and tan Bruce.
'Our Dogs' magazine for October 19th 1907 carries a report of the 1907 trial, held on October 12th. The winner, Ben Murray of Moniaive, was presented by Alexander Russell with the Russell Challenge Cup.
The trial continues to this day.
The Derby Mercury for September 18th 1889 reports of an event at the Nottingham Road County Ground in Derby, describing a "series of sheep dog trials as frequently take place in Wales and other large sheep rearing districts, but which up to the present time have been entirely unkown in the neighbourhood." It seems that the Derbyshire Agricultural Society was asked to host the event but refused, and a local sponsor, G F Bowden of Somersal, put up prize money of £20 to ensure that the trial, believed to be the first in Derbyshire, took place. Twenty dogs competed on both days of the trial, and there were also 8 entries in a Welsh class.
1889: EGGLESTONE (BARNARD CASTLE) AGRICULTURAL SHOW
The Leeds Mercury for September 23rd 1889 gives a result for the sheepdog trial at the Show, held at the Haughs between Ronaldskirk and Egglestone: 1st W Bambigh, Steam; 2nd J Metcalfe, Spittal.
1889: GISBURN (CLITHEROE) FLORAL & AGRICULTURAL SHOW
The Leeds Mercury for August 19th 1889 reports of the Gisburn Floral and Agricultural Show near Clitheroe that "a trial of sheep dogs attracted great attention."