WWEBS © All Rights Reserved 2006 - 2011

This site is hosted by Alpha1teclabsbristol

Designed by Debbie.

Home.Club History.Committee.Shows.Latest Photos.Links.Merchandise.

History Of The Welsh & West

Bullmastiff Society

There are two characteristics, which typify the Welsh. The first is a certain independence of spirit and the second, a strong sense of nationalism. It was probably a combination of these two forces, which led to the formation of The Welsh Bullmastiff Society.

The breed was known in the Principality in pre war days with several small kennels breeding, and exhibiting. One such kennel was the "Taffside" of Mr & Mrs W. Storm, and it was Mr Storm who became the Society's first chairman, a post that he held for many years.

Wales has always had an abundance of canine societies each running a few limit and open shows, and the post war boost brought a new generation of exhibitors campaigning their bullmastiffs in the variety classes. In some of these Saturday afternoon events it was possible to see eight or ten bullmastiffs all battling it out in variety classes and often winning. Obviously exhibitors wanted breed classes and felt that there would be enough support for a bullmastiff club. Mrs Dorothy Nash, Secretary of the Southern Bullmastiff Society was contacted with a view to forming a Welsh branch of the Southern Bullmastiff Society. The request was favourably received and a meeting called for April 1st 1946 at The Old Arcade Hotel Cardiff, to which enthusiasts were invited. The discussion led not to the formation of a branch, but to the formation of a Welsh Bullmastiff Society, although the vote in favour of such a venture was carried by just one vote. Mrs Nash was duly contacted and gave the new club her best wishes for success. Mr W. Mitchell was appointed as Secretary. Perhaps it was of some significance that in those days of austerity both the Chairman and the Secretary owned butchers shops.

Acceptance by the Kennel Club came very quickly and by June 1946 a full committee had been formed with Captain J. Petersen as President. Donations of cups and trophies followed, and the first of the Society's handbooks was produced at the end of 1946 at the cost of £4.15.0 per hundred with a half page advertisement at £1.2.6. The annual subscription was ten shillings and sixpence (approximately 55 pence in today's currency).

In 1947 the first open show was staged in a Drill Hall in Cardiff with Mr C R Leeke officiating as judge. This was a period when the Society did sterling work by guaranteeing bullmastiff classes at all types of shows. Wales has always had some classic one-day agricultural shows in which a dog section is included. By guaranteeing classes, exhibitors were given the chance of competing against their own breed, and the general public had the opportunity of seeing the breed and becoming attracted to it. It is surprising even now, how many will visit the dog section of an agricultural show, who would never contemplate looking in on a specific dog show.

The Old Arcade Hotel in Cardiff, remained as the Society's headquarters for many years, and I have happy memories of the old premises. It was suffering from post war depression, but was used by many canine societies as well as students, and what we would now call "pop groups". One of the regular singers was a young coloured girl from Tiger Bay, which is Cardiff's docklands area, who rapidly graduated from the Old Arcade to become a leading singing star. This was, of course, Shirley Bassey. What a pity that at the height of her fame she adopted the Old English Sheepdog instead of a Bullmastiff. At one Committee meeting I remember how a rat came out from behind a skirting board, ran round the room, much to the consternation of the ladies, and scuttled back behind the board from which it came. I believe that nowadays the hotel is quite up market.


In the formative years many household names in the breed came to Cardiff to judge the shows. Authorities like Mr E. Burton (Navigation) Mr Marshall (Maritime) Mr Avery (Bablock) Mrs Mullin (Mulorna) and many others, in fact there was such enthusiasm that often the Society staged a Spring and an Autumn show. The group became financially sound and was blessed with an established set of officers, but by the early fifties, the Society made use of some of the expertise of the newer recruits. In 1952 Mr W. Mitchell moved from his position as Secretary and Mr W. Whitney Davies took on the post for one year. In 1953 Mr W. Kemp a Cardiff solicitor was appointed as secretary and remained in post until 1956, which was the year in which I was appointed as secretary and remained in that post until 1984. My application for membership of the Society was confirmed at a committee meeting held on 26 October 1949, and now forty years later I again find myself Secretary to the group.


Times were changing, and in the 50's support for the Society within Wales had somewhat diminished, but support was coming from the Midlands and the West of England. Although shows were still held in Cardiff, important meetings such as AGM's were moved. In 1957 we met in Gloucester, and in this same year a new handbook was produced. In 1958 we met at Chepstow and Mr Terry of the then famous Buttonoak Kennels became our President. At the 1961 AGM held at Gloucester, the meeting resolved to apply to the Kennel Club to change the title of the society to "The Welsh & West of England Bullmastiff Society", thus reflecting the wider spread of membership. In 1963 Tintern was our AGM venue but we were soon to move into an era when The Swan Inn at Alvington became our adopted home for meetings, rallies, shows, and the occasional social function. The Swan exuded a most convivial atmosphere, and although the available space at the venue was somewhat limited, excellent functions were staged.


After the retirement of Mr & Mrs Goodman of The Swan in the mid 1970's, we moved to the venue, which is still remembered as the finest which the Society ever used. Friends of mine made their stately home, Clearwell Castle in the Forest of Dean available to us. What a perfect setting for a truly British breed.


1988 marked a milestone in the Society's history when the first championship show was successfully staged at Malvern and appropriately judged by Mr & Mrs Colliass who over the years have always supported every function. With the granting of challenge certificates, we moved into a new era.


This brings our historical sketch up to date. Perhaps I can be forgiven for looking nostalgically back through the forty years of membership. Many of the pioneers are no longer living, but the foundations, which they laid down, have given us the Society, as we know it today. We too must build not only for the breed, but to keep alive that enterprise which began at The Old Arcade Hotel, Cardiff on April 1st 1946.


                                Author: Mr Douglas Oliff