The Early Sheepdog Trials Project: Trials 1890 - 1894
NB Each trial is listed here under the first year in which it was held
THE 1890s UP TO LONGSHAW: TRIALS 1890 - 1894
1890: DARLINGTON HORSE & DOG SHOW
The Northern Echo for July 21st 1890 reports that the Darlington Horse and Dog Show will be held the following Friday, and that "in addition to the show of dogs there is to be a trial for working sheep dogs, which, from the number of entries received, is sure to be watched with considerable interest."
c1890: DEVYNOCK, LLYWEL & LLANDILOFANE FARMERS' ASSOCIATION
British Fancier magazine for September 30 1892 carries a detailed report of this annual trial (hence the assumption that they will have started in 1890 or earlier). The trials were supported by the Rev Garnous Williams, who put up all the prize money. There were only ten entries, two being from Mr Bowden, probably G F Bowden who funded the first trial in Derbyshire in 1889. The eventual winner, after a runoff against the clock, was William Davis with March, beating James Davies with Nell. The hill course involved an outrun through one field and onto the hill behind to collect the sheep.
From 1890: INTERCOLONIAL SHEEP SHOW (New South Wales, Australia)
Wayne McMillan's research indicates that trials were held at Moore Park on July 3 1890, reported in the Sydney Morning Herald for July 4) and there is also an announcement of the 1899 trial to be held on July 1 1899 in the same paper for June 29 1899. Under the umbrella of the NSW Sheep Breeders' Association, a further trial was held on June 28 1900, reported in the same day's Sydney Morning Herald.
I am assuming, therefore, that the NSW Sheep Breeders' Trials are essentially the same trial from either 1896 or 1897. Kathy Gooch reproduces in International Sheepdog News for May/June 2008 details of the NSW Sheep Breeders’ Association rules for their second trial in 1897 (hence the assumption that the first was in 1896). The dogs were required to round-up three sheep and put them through two passages between hurdles 4’6” apart and then into a yard within 10 minutes. In the finals the time was extended to 15 minutes and two poles positioned 5 feet apart were substituted for the second set of hurdles.
1890: WOODSTOCK SHOW, BLENHEIM PARK
Jackson's Oxford Journal for September 6th announces the Woodstock Agricultural and Horticultural Association Show at Blenheim Park on September 9th, at which a "Grand Trial of Sheep Dogs will take place during the afternoon", believed to be the first trials in the area. On September 13th, the same newspaper carries a detailed report of the trial, noting that 21 sheep were transported from North Wales, along with the Cambrian handlers and their dogs who competed before the Queen in 1889 (see under Bala 1873). Perhaps most significantly, the trials are stated to be "arranged by and under the regulations of the Vale of Llangollen Sheep Dog Society". There was a class for Cambrian handlers, seemingly involving a group of trials winenrs, Bob, Fan (both of whom competed in front of Queen Victoria in 1889), Moss, Dip, Dash and D Rowlands' Fly from Llandrillo. This class was followed by an class for local dogs.
1891: COROWA SHOW (New South Wales, Australia)
Wayne McMillan reports a note in the Sydney Morning Herald for August 7 1891 of the Corowa show trial held on August 6.
c1891: OTAGO CENTRAL SHEEP DOG CLUB, NEW ZEALAND
The Otago Witness for 11 April 1895 reports on the fifth annual meeting of the Club and the trials held at Earnscleugh Station. That places the first meeting and trials in 1891. There were four classes in 1895 - I and II for dogs of any age. Class III was for dogs 18 moonths and under, and Class IV was again for dogs any age. I can't find a difference between the entry requirements for classes I, II and IV, but Mr McLennan's Tain beat the winner of Class I, William Scott's Gyp, by one point for the gold medal.
1891: KILDALE FOAL SHOW AND SHEEP DOG TRIALS
The Northern Echo for June 27th 1891 carries an ad for the show and trials to be held on Monday August 3rd.
York Herald for 8 August 1900 carries a report of the show and sheepdog trial the previous Monday. The first prize and silver cup went to A Cook, Baysdale; the other class, for "farmers or their servants of not more than 100 sheep" went to J Agar, Commondale.
From 1891: LAKE DISTRICT SHEEP DOG TRIALS ASSOCIATION
George Barcroft competed at the 14th annual trial at Windermere in 1904, which indicates 1891 for the first of the series. Barbara Collins in her 1994 'Guide to Sheepdog Trials in Britain & Ireland' confirms the 1891 date. A centenary souvenir programme was produced in 1991, which gives the date of the first trial in the Lake District as 1877, held at Bell Isle, Windermere (see above). The attendance at the 1901 trial is stated to have been between 1300 and 1400 spectators.
Our Dogs magazine for September 2 1899 contains a report of the ninth LDSDTA trial at Windermere on August 18, with a Local class (9 entries) and a class for handlers within a 20 mile radius of Windermere railway station (16 entries).
Manchester Evening News for 23 August 1902 carries a report of the Association's 12th annual trial at Windermere the previous day, the open class being won by John Mason's Jack.
Manchester Evening News for 22 August 1903 carries a report of the Association's 13th annual trial at Windermere the previous day, with Local, 20 miles radius and Open classes.
George Barcroft also competed in a Lake District trial near Windermere in 1907, and at a Lake District Sheep Dog Trials Association trial held at Applethwaite Commons in 1909. See the Barcroft chapter.
The 1907 trial (the 17th annual trial) is reported in Manchester Courier for 24 August 1907, with John Mason First and George Barcroft second, apparently running a dog owned by W Akrigg named Dust Lady.
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 Lake District Association trial or possibly a North Westmorland trial (qv).
1891: SYDNEY (New South Wales) SHOW
Kathy Gooch reproduces in International Sheepdog News for May/June 2008 a set of rules for the Sydney Easter Show sheepdog trial. There were classes for dogs or sluts (bitches) any age, and for puppies (under 12 months old).
From 1891: DOVEDALE
Barbara Collins in her 1994 'Guide to Sheepdog Trials in Britain & Ireland' indicates that the Dovedale trial, held at Ilam, ran annually from 1892 to 1909, and again annually from 1949 until the present day.
George Barcroft competed at this trial in 1898, in 1901 and 1903. See the Barcroft chapter.
The Western Mail report of September 20 1900 on the Ely Racecourse trial at Cardiff (xee under 1895 Cardiff) tells us that "Bobs, the Kendal dog" had won the 1900 Dovedale trial "the other day".
Kim Gibson's article on the Dovedale trials in the March/April 2009 issue of International Sheepdog News indicates an 1891 start date, and reproduces photos (shown above) of spectators from the first trial (this from a postcard with "First Sheepdog Trial Dovedale 1891" written on the back) and also a photo of the committee standing in front of a tent (above), taken in 1895.
A detailed report of the 1892 trial "the second annual Sheepdog trials", thus confirming the 1891 date, appeared in British Fancier magazine for September 23 1892. The report will form an article in International Sheepdog News at some point in the near future.
Sheffield Daily Telegraph for 19 June 1903 reports on the trial, held in June in front of the Izaak Walton Hotel instead of in its usual month of September. There was a three way runoff for the top prize between John Thorley, J W Morpheth and George Barcroft. John Thorley won the runoff with a time of 7½ minutes.
1892: DURHAM COUNTY SHOW
Northern Echo for August 25th 1892 reports on Durham County Show, held at Wolsingham the previous Wednesday. The judges for the sheepdog trial are listed as Messrs Wood, Brydon and Back, and the prize winners as 1st N Wearmouth, Wolsingham Park; 2nd J Harrison, Tow Law; Res G Cowan, Easington; Highly Commended T J Davison, Southwick.
1892: CUREGHEM, BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
Georges van Ceulebroeck's 1973 book L'Historique du Berger Belge (History of the Belgian Shepherd dog) includes a detailed account of the test of working shepherding dogs at Cureghem, Brussels on May 1st and 2nd 1892. A total of 33 dogs, all handled by professional shepherds, competed. This was the first sheepdog trial in Continental Europe, and others were reported to be planned for Lyon (France) for July 1893; Germany under the auspices of the Phylax society, but the trial in Bordeaux had been postponed.
From 1892: EPPYNT HILL
British Fancier magazine for September 30 1892 carries an announcement of a trial at Eppynt Hill, Llangaunmarch Wells, on October 7th. Barbara Carpenter, in her history of trialling in South Wales, "Trials and Tribulations" tells us that the trial was contested during the early years of the century and includes a picture of the beautiful embossed silver Eppynt Hill cup, presented in 1908 and won outright by Rhys Protheroe in 1914.
Our Dogs magazine for September 2nd 1910 carries the result of the trial held on August 25th. The first prize was divided between W Williams' Bonnie and J Jones' Waldo.
1892: LLANNEFYDD, DENBIGH
Baner ac Amserau Cymri for December 5th 1891 carries an advertisement for a sheepdog trial at Llannefydd, 5 miles from Denbigh and Abergele, on New Year's Day 1892, with two classes: First Class, open to all comers prizes £4, £3, £1.10s, entrance fee 4s; and Second class, open to dogs not having won first prize at any trial with prizes of £3, £2, £1.5s. 15s, entrance fee 2s6d. The secretary was Isaac C Ellis.
1892: MARSHBROOK, SHROPSHIRE
British Fancier magazine for September 30 1892 carries an announcement of a trial to be held at Marshbrook, Salop, to be judged by R F Bowden, Somersal, Derby, on October 12th.
British Fancier magazine for September 9 1892 carries a detailed report of this trial, held on August 19. The outrun was half a mile, and there were 13 competitors. The winner was the last to run, Dr Gordon Richardson's Young Bob, beating E Rice's Champion Turk, with J Lloyd's Doubtful third.
1892: PONTRHYDFENDIGAID, TREGARON, ABERYSTWYTH
British Fancier magazine for September 30 1892 carries an announcement of a trial to be held at "Pontrhydgendigaid" on October 12th.
1892: RAVENSTONEDALE SHOW, KIRKBY STEPHEN
The Leeds Mercury for September 10th 1892 lists the judges for the Kirkby Stephen Show trial as being Mr W Cleasby, Hartley, Kirkby Stephen; Mr A Cleasby, Sedbergh and Mr Thomas Handley, Settra Park.
Our Dogs magazine for September 9 1899 reports on the trial at Ravenstonedale on August 31st; the show being well attended. There were 20 entries, judged by M H Atkinson. Jonathan Barcroft won the trial with Bess, and was fourth with Lassie, who had been second in 1898 and first in 1897. H J Hindson's Jack was second and W D Shaw's Trip third.
See also North Westmoreland 1885 (which could possibly be Ravenstonedale Show trials) and Kirkby Stephen Show 1880 for other trials in the area.
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. I think this may well be a Lake District Association trial (qv).
1892: TREGARON, ABERYSTWYTH
British Fancier magazine for October 21 1892 carries an announcement of a trial at "Tregarn, near Aberystwith" which must presumably be Tregaron, to be held the following Wednesday, October 26th.
Jonathan Barcroft competed at this, the first Wirral Sheep Dog Trial, held on 6th June 1892. See the Barcroft chapter. Iris Combe, writing in her 1997 "Rough Collie Records", reports that Mr Piggin's Ormskirk Charlie took second place at the first Wirral trial, but gives the year as 1893. Since the 1892 date comes from a contemporary newspaper report, it is more likely to be correct. The same newspaper report indicates that Jonathan Barcroft's Bob was second in 1892, so Ormskirk Charlie was probably indeed second in 1893, but at the second not the first Wirral trial.
Ormskirk Charlie was also successful in 1895: the Liverpool Mercury for August 6th 1895 reports on the fourth annual Wirral trial (which also confirms the 1892 date) that Ormskirk Charlie established a record in winning the Open (Wirral stakes) in 8 minutes. Second was Mr Richardson, Rhayader with Young Merry (12 mins); third Rowland E Pugh, Llangollen with Glen (12 mins); fourth Mr Richardson again with Old Merry (13 mins); fifth J R Dempster, Oswestry, with Tyne (14 mins). There is also an award listed for Sheep Dog Trials (Dogs or Bitches) E T Evans, Thurstaston's Shep (dog), but there is no indication what the award is for. It is interesting to note that this was clearly a timed trial, and the number of competitors from Wales in the prize money. The judge was C H Wheeler.
From pre 1893: KILMARNOCK FARMERS' SOCIETY
British Fancier magazine for April 21 1893 gives a detailed report of the runs at the trial, but names none of the handlers and only some of the 14 dogs. It states that the Society do(es) well to keep the trial on the list, indicating that it probably started in an earlier year. The judge, Mr Watson, is named, and perhaps a first (and last?) for a sheepdog trial, it is said that he gave the greatest satisfaction, his awards being cheered.
1893: MOAMA AGRICULTURAL & PASTORAL SOCIETY SHOW (New South Wales, Australia)
Wayne McMillan reports a note in the Sydney Morning Herald for September 6 1894 of the Moama show trial held on the previous day.
From 1893: WHARFEDALE TRIAL (OTLEY)
Jonathan Barcroft competed at the Wharfedale Trial, held at Otley in conjunction with the Foal Show in 1893. he is also listed amongst the prize winners in 1899, but the report refers specifically to George Barcroft's team of four dogs. George Barcroft also competed at Otley in 1897, 1901, 1904 and 1908. See the Barcroft chapter, where the 1901 course is described in detail, as it is similarly in the 1899 Our Dogs report.
Our Dogs magazine for September 20 1899 carries a report of the Wharfedale trial at Otley on September 2nd, which was judged by R S Piggin. The course included driving round flags and a Maltese Cross. There were three classes: Local, won by W Mackereth's Tip; Novice, won by William Ellis' Tip; and Open W Ellis (presumably with Tip), Mr (listed as J, but probably G) Barcroft second and third with Bob and Bess.
Our Dogs for September 15th 1906 reports on the trial on September 5th. Lewis Ackroyd, referred to as the successor to the late W Mackereth, won first prize in all three classes.
Our Dogs for September 16th 1910 reports on the 18th trials at Otley on September 3. There were 35 entries judged, as in 1909, by Joseph Wood of Selside. The silver cup, first offered in 1908 for the Open winner and won by George Barcroft and by Lewis Ackroyd in 1909, was won by Mark Hayton of Weston Manor, Otley. George Barcroft won the Brace, but there were only two entries. The Novice was won by Charles Hardisty of Otley with Shep, and the Radius to Joseph Pighills of Addingham with Peg.
From 1893: HOLM SHOW, NEWCASTLETON
Barbara Collins in her 1994 'Guide to Sheepdog Trials in Britain & Ireland' tells us that a sheepdog trial became part of Holm Show from 1893 and has been run annually ever since. It is now held on the Monday following the show in a neighbouring location.
1893: LYON, FRANCE
Mentioned as being planned to happen the following July in the report of the 1892 Cureghem, Brussels, Belgium trial. See under 1892 Cureghem.
1893: PRESTON, LANCASHIRE
George Barcroft’s first recorded trial entry was at Preston in 1882 (listed under Manchester Agricultural Society Show 1876); Jonathan Barcroft competed at the Preston Sheepdog Club’s trial in October 1893, where there were 17 entries, amongst them Mr J Moses' Sall and Pink and J Metcalf's Sep, as well as three of Jonathan Barcroft's dogs; Bob (winner), Lady (2nd) and Slip. The trial was judged by "J" Piggin, owner of the prolific winner Ormskrk Charlie. See the Barcroft chapter, where the 1893 course is described in detail.
From 1893: RUTHIN, DENBIGHSHIRE
A cutting in Barbara Carpenter's collection, believed to be from "British Fancier", reports on a trial on August 21 1893 in the Castle grounds, Ruthin, adjoining the residence of Colonel Cornwallis West. There were 23 competitors, some of whom were handicapped by being worked by voice only. The three prize winners were 1st: Owen Hughes' Fellow; 2nd John Evans Larrie; third Mr Maxwell's Gyp.
George Barcroft competed at Ruthin in 1898 in both singles and doubles. Jonathan Barcroft competed in trials at Ruthin in August 1899 (where there was as special prize for working dogs and at nearby Bontuchel in November 1900 (where there were 79 entries). A Welsh language report in Baner ac Amserau Cymri for November 28th 1900 gives more detail of the trial. In 1901, there was an Open class (Vale of Clwyd Stakes) and a doubles class in Ruthin Castle Park. See the Barcroft chapter.
Manchester Courier for 2 September 1904 reports on a successful trial before an influential house party.
Manchester Courier for 8 September 1905 reports that there were nearly 2000 spectators at the annual trial at Ruthin Castle with a record entry of 52. The Clwyd Stakes, open to the world were won by J Moses with Lassie; the doubles by G Bearcroft (sic) with Scott and Dust.
Manchester Courier for 7 September 1906 reports that there was a large crowd for the trials the previpous day. W Akrigg and Laddie were the winners, from J Moses with Nip and George Barcroft with Dust third.
Our Dogs for September 16th 1910 lists the results of the trial held in conjunction with Ruthin Flower Show on September 1st. Open: T Roberts, Cymo, Llangollen; Ruthin Castle class (open to non first prize winners from Denbigh, Flint & Merioneth) W O Williams, Hafod Elwy. Brace prize to J (must be George) Barcroft.
1893: SELKIRK, SCOTLAND
Barbara Carpenter has a cutting reporting a trial at Selkirk on 2 September 1893 at which 8 dogs ran. The winner was Mr Brockie's Bess, "an old Bearded Collie"; 2nd was Mr Jackson's black & white Gladdie.
From before 1894: PORTENCROSS (LARGS)
Barbara Collins in her 1994 'Guide to Sheepdog Trials in Britain & Ireland' tells us that the Largs Agricultural Society Trial is known to have been running for more than a century (ie before 1894).
pre? 1894: BISHOP AUCKLAND AGRICULTURAL SHOW
The Northern Echo for May 4th 1894 reports on a meeting of the Show committee at which it was resolved (as a cost saving measure) to abandon all of the dog classes at the show with the exception of the sheepdog trial. The implication is that the trial was already an established event at the show and thus probably commenced in an earlier year.
1894: ABERDEEN AND NORTH OF SCOTLAND COLLIE CLUB
The Aberdeen Weekly Journal for February 7 1894 reports that at a meeting of the club the previous evenig it was resolved to hold a sheepdog trial at the Club's Woodside Show, "valuable prizes being given to dogs which pen a flock of sheep in the shortest time".
1894: GREATHAM AND DISTRICT AGRICULTURAL SHOW
The Northern Echo for August 7 1894 reports on the dinner held to celebrate the success of the fourth annual show the previous Monday. The result of the sheepdog trial is given as "equal: G Cowens, Castle Eden; Dobson and Allison, West Hartlepool".
1894: LOCHMABEN GAMES, LOCKERBIE, DUMFRIES
The Glasgow Herald for August 20 1894 lists the results for the Lochmaben Games including a trial of working sheepdogs won by R Hope, Bigholm, Langholm; 2nd G Robson, Wood, Kirkmichael.
The North Wales Chronicle for January 6 1894 reports that a trial was held at Tai Bach Farm, Dwygyfylchi, with prizes for Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan handlers only. The judges were R Jones, Taibach; R Jones, Trwyn yr Hwylfa and J Jones, Gilfach. The prize winners were: Pendyffryn Handicap 1st Robert Thomas, Oldham House, Llanfairfechan with Glen; 2nd Richard Jones, Greiglwyd; 3rd W G Roberts, Llanerch; 4th W Roberts, Blaenllwyn; 5th Moses Jones, Bryn Neuadd. For the Dwygyfylchi handicap, the prizes went to dogs owned by Moses Jones and Richard Jones. It is reported that there was a large entry for the trial.
From 1894: LONGSHAW
When Ernest Priestley issued a challenge to his fellow shepherds on the Rutland Estate, a sheepdog trial was organised. This became the Longshaw Trial, first run under that name in 1898 and still a major event in the calendar. The full story of the Longshaw trials is told in J Wentworth Day’s highly entertaining ‘The Wisest Dogs in the World’.
From 1894: WEST RIDING TRIALS
George Barcroft competed in the West Riding Sheep Dog Society trial at Ingleton in August 1903, where were 23 entries in the Open. George won the cup for the best worker in the trials for the second time in succession, so there must have been a trial in 1902. He also competed at the trial in 1904 and 1908. A silver medal is in the family collection inscribed West Riding Sheep Dog Society with an embossed image of a bearded sheepdog on a rock on the front and laurel leaves on the back. Unfortunately it does not bear a date. See the Barcroft chapter.
'Our Dogs' for September 16th 1899 contains a report bylined R S Piggin on the sixth annual sheepdog trials, hound trail and collie dog show on September 6th. This again indicates a start date of 1894, but the context indicates an annual trial at Ingleton rather than a West Riding SDS event. The judges were J Hunter and E Mason. Winner of the local class was A Middleton, Casterton, with Bright, and of the Open J Mason, Ambleside, with Gip.
Our Dogs for September 7th 1901 indicates that the West Riding Society held its eighth annual trials and dog show. Both Local and Open classes were won by Mr Armer of Middleton's Bright. A similar but shorter report is to be found in Burnley Express for 7 September 1901.
Manchester Courier for 5 September 1908 includes a report of the 15th annual trial the previous day. Both the Local and the Open classes were won by J Mason.
Manchester Courier for 26 August 1905 includes a report of the 12th annual trial of the society (presumably the West Riding society, although it is not named) at Ingleton. The acco
Our Dogs for September 16th 1910 lists the results at the West Riding Society's trials at Kirkby Lonsdale on August 31. Local: J Huddleston (Lancaster) Nell; Open: L Ackroyd (Leeds) Nap.
Our Dogs for September 13th 1912 reports on the nineteenth annual West Riding Trial at Sedbergh, which confirms 1894 as the first year of the trials. The winner of the Local class for the second year running was J A Morphet, Horton in Ribblesdale. The Open class was won by T E Riddings with Bell.