The exact origins of the West of England Bull Terrier Club are not clearly documented. No accurate records exist and clubs did not need Kennel Club approval in the distant past however it is documented that Mrs Gladys Adlam was its Secretary for several years in the first decade of the 20th century. Little else is known of those early years except that we know the breed was strong in the West Country. References have been made about the club in old breed notes and because of these references we know the club continued healthily through the twenties and thirties. At the outbreak war in 1939 most clubs ceased for the duration and the WEBTC was no exception.
The club was resurrected after the war primarily by the efforts of a few people including Mrs Helen Glasby, Miss “Betty” Woods, a Mr & Mrs Chambers, Mr & Mrs B. Lord, Mr & Mrs George & Helen Glasby and an A.B. Berry. Certainly at the first Bath Championship Show after the war plans were formulated to hold an inaugural meeting of the “new” club at the Pump Room located by the Roman Baths in the centre of Bath. They arranged their first committee meeting at the Chamber’s house located just outside Bath where Mr Chambers was elected President, Miss Woods Chairman, and Mrs Chamber the Secretary. Mrs Glasby went to Australia in 1966- and at 90 years of age she is the only known living founder member.
A landmark was the club’s first Kennel Club approved show. This was held at the St James Hall at Bath in 1947 during a great freeze. It is notable that the hall was unheated and the temperature inside a little over freezing. A committee member brought an oil fire. Although hardly central heating it did bring some relief for the judge, the redoubtable Miss Eva Weatherill, and all was well.
IN 1951 the great Raymond Oppenheimer judged the club show at Devizes. It was a grand affair with the Mayor, Councillor Mrs M. Reed, in attendance and presenting the prizes but in 1957 only eight of 46 members entered the open show. The minuets reported …flogging a dead horse… Very shaky
It was in 1959 that there was a mention of club Secretary Helen Glasby’s Ch. Rickmay Anbanaad. She was a very important point of breed history as she was the first CBW bitch champion. CBW means a Colour Bred white, that a coloured parent had tainted her pure white ancestry. It’s so normal now, and it would be impossible to find a PBW, (Pure Bred White) but in those days whites (pbw) were mated only to whites (pbw). To allow coloured blood to enter the pure bred white was a stigma, and prohibited the animal’s entry into the Bull Terrier Club’s Pure Breed White Stud book. Strangely the Keeper of this record, and a strong advocate for it, was the otherwise far seeing Tom Horner. The Bull Terrier Club rescinded this rule during 49/50. A wise move as it enabled breeders to now use top class whites tainted by coloured breeding, which until then had been used only by coloured breeders.
Membership rapidly increased to over 100 and the members’ list read like the whose-who of Bull Terriers breeders. In 1963 the club received an invitation to visit the famous Lenster/Phidgity/Harper kennels in Hampshire, an offer the club gratefully accepted. This visit was repeated in 1971. During this period show entries had generally increased to around 125-150 but in 1970 the entry plummeted to 67. The judge, a very eminent person in the breed, was a D. Rainy Brown, who I believe a veterinarian surgeon from Scotland. It was also in this year that the club accepted an invitation to visit the world famous Ormandy/Souperlative kennels where they were entertained by the great Raymond Oppenheimer and Eva Weatherill
In 1968 Raymond Oppenheimer presented the club’s main trophies- The Ormandy Boxes- to be competed for annually by dogs shown at Club shows the previous year. These are held at the October Show and are an important part of the club year. Three years ago the Valkyrie Trophy was awarded by the club in honour of George & Audrey Jarrett (Valkyrie) and this too is on offer annually to the best-coloured animal shown in the previous year. On a sad note, the sudden death of our popular Chairman John Hinks in 2000 resulted in a new trophy the Johinska Cup being awarded for the BOS to the Valkyrie trophy.
The 1968 Open Show held at the Corn Exchange, Devises drew an entry of 140, and in 1969 an entry of 145. Throughout the 1970’s entries were maintained around these high figures but shows did receive more support from members in those days. The Corn Exchange at Devizes was a popular venue for the club shows. It was an attractive Victorian building of ample size and in the town centre and it did have adequate parking. A couple of AGM’s were held in Devizes also, but we lost the use of the Devizes hall and now we use halls in Bristol for our shows and the AGMs.
The club is proud of the support it gives to the Bull Terrier Club Welfare Trust and has received several commendations from them. The club membership is now 300 with the target of 400 in view. It has a fine range of trophies on offer to members, and these represent the history of the club. The club won the Bricktops Trophy, and national interclub competition, this year (it also won it the first year of the competition’s existence in the late eighties). Our committee is active and stable, and always interested in promoting events of interest to members. We hold our three licensed shows a year, and also educational and fun events periodically.