The Early Sheepdog Trials Project: Trials 1895 - 1899
NB Each trial is listed here under the first year in which it was held
19th CENTURY POST LONGSHAW: TRIALS 1895 - 1899
1895: ASKRIGG SPORTS TRIAL
The Northern Echo for June 8 1895 reports on the Askrigg Sports the previous Monday including a sheepdog trial in which six competed. The prizes were: 1st Wm Fawcett, Simonstone, Hawes; 2nd John Thwaite, Aksrigg; 3rd James Graham, Cams Houses.
From 1895: (BRENTOR AND) LYDFORD PONY SHOW
The Western Times for 9 August 1895 reports on the Brentor and Lydford Pony Show at which there was a trial judged by John Jackman, Tavistock and Richard Palmer, North Brentor. The winner was E B Yelland; 2nd J Maunder, Mary Tavy. The class for dogs under 18 months was won by E Powell. This trial is of particular significance as the earliest record I have found of a trial in the South West of England. The newspaper article advertising the 1893 and 1894 events make no mention of a trial, so 1895 is probably the first year in which it was held.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette for 4 August 1908 reports on the 20th annual show the previous day where there was an entry of 12 in the sheepdog trial, held on Black Down, judged by W Wilcock (Lydford Junction) and Mr Hogg (Princetown) and won by G Powell, Bridestowe, 2nd W May, Lydford.
From 1895: CARDIFF (ELY RACECOURSE)
The Western Mail for October 9th and 24th 1895 carry respectively an advertisement for and report of the trial at Ely Racecourse, Cardiff. Held on October 23rd, this was "absolutely the first (trial) held in the vicinity of Cardiff" and attracted the largest entries "ever known at any sheep dog trial in the United Kingdom", with prize money equal to that at the Llangollen and Dovedale trials. With two classes, the Tredegar Stakes and Windsor Stakes, the latter still had a number of runs to be competed at the end of the day, at which point Jonathan Barcroft's Brown Bob was the clear leader, having been the only dog of 30 which had been able to pen. Brown Bob had also won the "recent trials held at Monmouth".
The Western Mail for September 23 1899 reports on the two day trial (the preceding Thursday and Friday, September 20 and 21) at Ely Racecourse, but other than the fact that each competitor had three sheep, provides little information other than that the trial took place. Our Dogs magazine for September 30th 1899 gives more detail. The Open (Windsor stakes) class was won by J Barcoft's Bob; J Jones's Lass, who won in 1898, a close second; third equal Charles Rices's Old Merry and Rees Griffith's Jed. The Frank Thomas Challenge Cup, open only to the prize winners in the Open and Novice trials, was won by Old Merry for the second year running. The magazine noted that it was unlikely that, at 13 years of age, she would be able to attempt to win the cup outright the folllowing year.
The 1900 Western Mail reports (of September 20 and 21) are more helpful, telling us that the trial included a Maltese Cross (this is also noted in the 1899 Our Dogs report; the first mention I have seen of this essential South Wales trials element). and announcing the retirement of the winner of the Windsor Stakes (Open trial), Mr C Price, Penybank, Llangurig's Old Merry. Jonathan Barcroft was sixth with Brown Bob, and announced at the trial that the dog exhibited to Queen Victoria in 1889 (ie White Bob) had recently died. The Western Mail 1899 and 1900 reports are printed in full in International Sheepdog News for May/June 2010. The confusion between "C Price" and "Charles Rice" needs to be investigated in order to write the full history of what was undoubtedly a remarkable trialling bitch.
Our Dogs for September 28th 1901 reports on the two day trial "last Wednesday and Thursday". The Ely trial has, under Richard Williams, become the most important one in South Wales. It states that Jonathan Barcroft brought a team of six, but had to content himnself with minor prizes (it nust have been George, as Jonathan had died in May 1901). The Open winner, J Bound's Wag, the Novice winner was W Akrigg's Tip (the Sedbergh shepherd being "wonderfully pleased to have "won t'coop"", and the Frank Thomas Challenge Trophy for the championship runoff between the prize winners in the two classes, was won by Mr Ambrose's Fan, ahead of M Moses' Kitty.
Our Dogs for October 6th 1906 reports on the trials held on September 27 with some of the record entry of 68 being held over until the next day. In the Open class, W Akrigg's Laddie was first, T Davies's Juno Wen was second, and George Barcroft's Dust third. The Novice winner was Evan Williams' Moss, and the Frank Thomas Challenge Cup was won by George Barcroft with Lassie.
George Barcroft also competed at a trial near Cardiff in 1897, and won a silver cup there in 1902. He later competed at the "major South Wales trial of the year" at Ely Racecourse in 1909. See the Barcroft chapter.
Our Dogs reports on the 1910 trial, held on September 14th/15th, and described as the "Welsh International annual trials". The Windsor stakes were won by T Davies' Juno Wen, equalling the record of Wen's mother, Fan. The Tredegar Stakes were won by (presumably George barcroft's) Ben. The Challenge Cup was won by D Griffith's Fly, with George Barcroft's Ben second.
1895: EAST LOTHIAN AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY SHOW
The Glasgow Herald for July 6 1895 announces the annual United East Lothian Agricultural Society show to be held in Amisfield Park, Haddington, including a Working Trial of Sheep Dogs. It is possible that this trial is the one at which in later years the "East Count(r)y" Champion and Cup mentioned in reports of the 1909 International Trial.
From 1895: LLANWONNO
Barbara Carpenter reports in her book 'Trials and Tribulations' that the first Llanwonno trial was held in 1895 on the same ground where it is held in 2000, at Penrhiwcaradoc Farm, above Mountian Ash. There were Open and Novice classes in 1895 and in 1896.
The Western Mail's report of October 24th 1895 for the Cardiff (Ely Racecourse) trial (see above under 1895 Cardiff) includes the information that Jonathan Barcroft's Brown Bob had won the "recent trials held at Monmouth".
From 1895: WHITFIELD (NORTHUMBERLAND) FLORAL AND HORTICULTURAL SHOW
The Newcastle Weekly Courant for August 17th 1895 gives details of the forthcoming Flower Show and Sheep Dog Trial on August 31st, with entries to be sent to the secretary by August 17th (the day the notice appeared!).
Our Dogs for September 13 1912 carries a report of the 1912 trial, held at Whitfield Park. There were two classes - Open, won by W Bell's Tyne, and a class restricted to tenants of the estate of Mr J R Blackett-Ord, won by W Lee.
1896: CLUB FRANCAIS DU CHIEN DE BERGERS (French Sheepdog Club)
This club was founded in 1896 by Emmanual Boulet of Paris, and there reports survive of two of its annual sheepdog trials, held over a course somewhat different from the ISDS trials to which we are accustomed. "The Strand Magazine" for July/December 1898 carries a detailed report, including a plan of the course, and photos of some of the competing dogs, the medals awarded, and elements of the trial itself - probably the earliest photos of sheepdog trials. The report can be found here. This is for the third trial, at Lizy sur Ourcq, fairly near to Paris.
A very similar report, from "The Wide World" magazine of 1904 covers the trial at Beauvais. This was reprinted in Working Sheepdog News for November/December 1996. There is a similar array of photos and the plan of the course appears to be identical.
It would be useful to unearth details of the trials in other years, and also to discover whether it was this French club from which the ISDS acquired its motto "There is no good flock without a good shepherd and no good shepherd without a good dog".
1896: LLANGEFNI, ANGLESEY
Our Dogs magazine for October 10 1896 states in a brief summary of trials for 1896 that a trial at Llangefni on September 25th drew a large entry. Mr Barcroft came first and second (the dogs not being named), but the work throughout was very poor owing to the high wind.
1896: STAFFORD COMMON (WEST MIDLANDS)
Our Dogs magazine for October 10 1896 states in a brief summary of trials for 1896 that R S Piggin's Ormskirk Charlie won the trial held on October 1st at Stafford Common, a trial instituted by G F Bowden, under the presidency of the Mayor of Stafford. Charlie's work was described as faultless, and highly mappreciated by the spectators.
1897: CANTERBURY, NEW ZEALAND
The Otago Times for May 22nd 1897 carries a paragraph to the effect that the sheepdog trials arranged for "next week during the currency of the winter show" wil be taken under the auspices of the Canterbury A & P Association. It was hoped that increased prize money would bring greater interst inboth show and trial. The report does not state exactly where the trial is to take place, nor what A & P stands for.
1897: FRANKFURT, GERMANY
George Barcroft competed at a trial in Germany, watched by the Kaiser, the first such event in Continental Europe of which we have seen any record. See the Barcroft chapter.
From 1897?: HENLLYS
The index to Our Dogs for June to December 1907 lists a report of a trial at Henllys. More details to follow.
Our Dogs for September 16th 1910 reports on the fourteenth annual trials (which would give a start date of 1897) and states that they were promoted by the "Working Sheepdog Society". Which society is that - one specific to these trials, or a South Wales society, or even the ISDS? The judges were E C Davies and J Williams. The Novice class was won by F Lloyd with Merry, and the Monmouthshire class by O Jones Gwrwryn.
From 1897: TRING AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY SHOW, HERTFORDSHIRE
The Illustrated Police News for August 14th 1897 gives details of the sheep dog trials at the Tring Agricultural Society Show at Tring Park, using Lonk wethers brought from Lord Derby's Lancashire seat at Knowsley Park. The dogs were worked by whistle and signs until the Maltese Cross was reached, at which point the handler could help the dog. Despite some mishaps (see International Sheepdog News), the trial was concluded, with Mr J Moses' Old Pink first, and Jonathan Barcroft's White Bob and Lassie second and third.
George Barcroft competed at this trial in 1898 and in 1901. See the Barcroft chapter.
Our Dogs magazine carries a detailed report on the 1899 trial. Not only did Jonathan Barcroft compete, but he also provided the sheep, brought all the way from Lancashire. He also brought with him a number of handlers from the North: J Moses (Atherton), W Akrigg (Sedbergh), T Martindale (Kendal) and W Mackereth (Leeds). The course, which included a Maltese Cross, was "shorter than that used at Llangollen" at 400-500 yards. J Moses' Gem won the trial, withJ Barcroft's Brown Bob second. There was also a Brace class, with six sheep; three marked to be penned by one dog, the other three by the other dog to compete the trial.
The London Standard for 10 August 1900 reports on a successful trial stating that it is now the "only one held in the South". The singles were won by T Mackereth from Leeds with Tip; the brace by G Barcroft with Brown Bob and Lassie. J Moses competed in the singles with Old Pink, aged 12.
In 1901, according to the Our Dogs report of August 17th, Captain Best, the host of the Llangollen trials held the previous week, visited the Tring trial for the first time, and seemed impressed by the eagerness of the Southerners. The judge was R S Piggin. The winner in the singles was W Jones's Carlo, J Barcroft's Bess and Rap second and third. In the doubles, first and second went to Jonathan Barcroft, with Brown Bob & Bess and Don & Sall. W Akrigg was third with Laddie & Lady.
A Challenge Cup for the Single Sheep Dog Trials, shown to us by Margaret & Graham Phillips, shows the winners for 1910 as L Ackroyd and Nap from Menston near Leeds.
Our Dogs for August 12th 1910 reports on the trials held on August 4th, under the patronage of the King, and judged by R S Piggin.
Iris Combe, writing in her 1997 book "Rough Collie Records" reports that Mr Piggin from Nottingham, owner of the prolific trials winner Ormskirk Charlie, was invited to judge at the first Belfast sheepdog trial in 1898.
1898: CYMMER, NEATH PORT TALBOT
The Western Mail for November 7th 1898 notes in its Local News Paragraphs section that the first annual sheepdog trial in the Afan Valley was held at Cymmer the previous Saturday (ie November 5th) and "proved an unqualified success".
1898: (TYNY)CYMMER, PORTH
A letter published in the June 18th 1898 issue of Our Dogs magazine from the secretary of the Tynycymmer Sheepdog Trial, Gwilym James, asks secretaries of other trials to send dates to Our Dogs for publication in the hope of avoiding clashes of dates and in the interests of competitors travelling long distances. Although there is an editor's note offering reduced rates for announcements, it seems that publicity in the general dog press was not at the top of trials secretaries' agendas. However, it establishes that a trial existed at Cymmer, Porth (not the same place as Cymmer, Neath Port Talbot, above).
George Barcroft competed at a trial somewhere in Glamorganshire in 1898. See the Barcroft chapter.
1898: TON PENTRE (RHONDDA VALLEY)
'Our Dogs' reports on the second annual trial here in 1899, held on September 19 and 20. "Much interest was taken by the miners in the proceedings". The mountain sheep proved almost too much for the Novice dogs, and torrential rain meant that many of the Open class runenrs had to compete on the following day. The trial was won by J Jones' Lass, one of the leading triallists of the time.
1899: A TYPICAL TRIAL
Ludgate Magazine of 1899 describes a typical trial in some detail, in which Jonathan Barcroft is participating, but without naming the venue. See the Barcroft chapter.
1899: ARRAN, SCOTLAND
The August 28th 1900 Glasgow Herald gives an account of the 1900 Arran trial "inaugurated last year" (ie in 1899, but no details of that first trial have yet been found). The 1900 trial was held on Home Farm, Dugarie under the auspices of the Duchess of Hamilton. The judges are listed as Mr Allan, Balnacoole; Mr McNicol, Moneyquil; and Mr Hoolieson, Brodick. The course consisted of the dog's taking four sheep from a field, driving them onto the open moor, round three flagpoles, bringing them back and then folding them with the help of the shepherd, with a time limit of 17 minutes. There were 30 entrants, 26 of which turned up, and the winners were 1st John McIntyre's Chance, Holy Isle; 2nd Duncan Tait's Colin, Glenshant; 3rd John Craig's Spark, Imacher; 4th John McKechnie's Tom, Glenkill; 5th equal Alexander Hamilton's Gyp, Derneneach and John M Kerr's Robin, Lochranza.
'Scottish Farmer' for September 2nd 1905 reports on the trials - naming High McPherson's Help as the 1904 first prize winner, with 26 entries; Hugh McPherson again being the winner, but this time with Balnacoole Spring. The judges were James Allan, Balnacoole; Robert Crawford, Glenscorrodale and Archibald McNicol, Monyquil.
'Our Dogs' magazine for September 8th 1906 carries, along with a report of the International trial, details of the annual Arran trial at Dougarie. John McKechnie was first, with Duncan McKechnie second and Malcolm Sillars third. Extra prizes were awarded to Donald Currie, John Henderson and Archibald McKenzie. The dogs are not named.
The same magazine for September 11th 1908 reports that the trials were held in glorious sunshine the previous week with 28 entries judged by James Scott, who was to take the International title the folllowing week.
The announcement for the 1909 International refers to James Scott’s Kep as having given an exhibition (ie in the language of Edwardian times competed) at the Arran trial ‘a week ago’; ie around September 4th.
Our Dogs for October 14th 1910 reports on the annual trials held at Ballarie Farm, Lochanza, on October 6th. The trials were "an excellent display - the best ever seen at Lochranza". First prize and gold medal went to Wm Robertson, Banlicken. There were special prizes for the dog under best command, best local run, oldest shepherd, farmers only, quiestest competitor, best competitor under 20, youngest competitor, best competitor over 60 and competitor coming longest distance (John McCheyne, Glencoe).
pre 1899: EGLWYSILAN (PONTYPRIDD)
'Our Dogs' for October 14th 1899 reports on the "annual" (and thus presumably held in earlier years) trials here on September 28 and 29, judged by Frank Thomas, T T Price and J Smith. The sheep had to be fetched from high up on the mountain over an uneven slope covered in ferns. There were 15 entries in the Novice, won by R Llewelyn's Sharp; 19 in the Open, won by R Llewelyn's Toss, and 18 in the Local class, where G Phillip's Wag (2nd in the Novice) and Rose took the top places.
'Our Dogs' for August 12 1899 reports on a trial at Horsforth in conjunction with the Agricultural Society Show on August 5th, judged by R S Piggin. There were seven competitors, George Barcroft's Lassie and Bell taking first and third (his Bess being unplaced), with N Ellis's Bob second.
1899: MOORSHOLME, REDCAR
The Northern Echo for August 28th 1899 reports on the Moorsholme Flower Show. Mr J Agar, Commondale, won first and second places in the sheep dog trial competition with his Nell and Bell.
1899: OSMOTHERLEY, NORTH YORKSHIRE
The Northern Echo for August 21st 1899 reports on the fourth Osmotherley Show the previous Saturday and indicates that "the sheep dog trials were watched with interest". It is not clear if sheepdog trials were held at the first three shows.
Barbara Carpenter reports in her book 'Trials and Tribulations' that trials at Cwmowen are mentioned in the late 1800s, and were originally held on the open mountain. The index to Our Dogs for July to December 1911 lists reports a trials at Cwmowen. More details to follow.
c1899: HUNDRED HOUSE
Barbara Carpenter reports in her book 'Trials and Tribulations' that the Hundred House trial was in existence some time prior to 1900, when the trial was won by the father of the then (ie 2000) secretary, J L Davies, Hendre Einion, with Reddy, a Welsh sheepdog. The 800 yard course, South Wales style, was run on Hundred House Common; it later became a two day event with National style on the second day. Early winners included W Powell with Rover in 1903, T Evans with Wallace in 1906 and E T Jones with Kelso in 1908.
Barbara Collins in her 1994 'Guide to Sheepdog Trials in Britain & Ireland' tells us that this trial was first run in 1900.
Barbara Carpenter reports in her book 'Trials and Tribulations' that the Mynyddisllwyn trial celebrated its centenary in 2004, but that some trials were held on the mountain prior to 1900. The old mountain course remained in use until 1990.