Lakeland Terrier Club
70th Birthday Party Show – 14th July at Shenstone Village Hall, Shenstone, Staffordshire

WHEN, ON the 60th Anniversary, I last reviewed the club’s history, Wendy Bower had just become the secretary and now has just retired, so it’s very fitting that she should judge this show, and had drawn an entry of more than double that at recent general championship shows.

It’s a relief to be able to say how harmonious relations between club members have been whilst she has been in office, it wasn’t always so. The first secretary, Nonie Fleming (out of the West) resigned after 14 months and the club split into two camps. However, Mrs Fleming was persuaded to come back and continued for a few years. Reading through the early minute book reveals one major dispute after the other, it’s a wonder we ever got through the first seven years, never mind seventy! The first disputes were about the use of professional handlers, many of those objecting had their own dedicated kennel staff, but apparently didn’t consider them professional.


The Lakeland Terrier Association was long established and breed had received championship status in 1931, when, at Crufts, Holland Buckley awarded the first CCs to Evergreens Double and Egton Lady of the Lake.

Four sets of CCs were on offer in 1932. The Association was northern based, and the desire to promote the breed in the south of the country was the main reason for the formation of the Lakeland Terrier Club. The desire was to support entries at general shows, especially the prestigious championship shows, by sponsorship and guarantees of paying the prize money if the entry didn’t cover it.

Progress was rapid, the year after the clubs formation, the number of CCs had doubled to eight (the way entries are going, we might be back down to this number soon). Immediately following the second world war, the club held its first championship show – followed by two others. When general all-breed shows were re-established, the club quickly abandoned plans for a fourth show and didn’t have its own independent show again until 1979 when Herbert Atkinson judged at Hailey, in Oxfordshire.

Prior to this, the club had designated one of the general championship shows as its breed show and nominated judges to the committee of the show. In general, the breed shows nowadays get a better entry than the general shows, people might wonder why the club was so late in holding its own. The main difficulty for a small championship show was the benching requirement, in the 1970s the KC started to give exemption from standard benching to breeds of small stature and numbers and northern based Lakeland Terrier Society held championship shows with trestle tables on which travelling boxes could be placed, my boxes still have the removable lids with mesh covers underneath that were specified, any exhibitor without such a box had to be supplied with one by the society. By 1979, these requirements were mostly forgotten abut and it was considered just to be exemption from benching.

Over the years, it’s a recurrent theme of the minutes that too many people from outside the breed are doing Lakelands, though there is little objection to genuine experienced all-rounders. Attempts are made to promote breeders as judges with the KC but the KC say they will not make exceptions, judges must have a certain amount of judging experience before being approved to give CCs – the club complains that it’s difficult for Lakeland breeder to get this experience. Nothing changes.

Founder vice-president, Tom Meageen (Mockerkin) who used two professional handlers, followed Mrs Fleming as secretary and continued until 1937 when Miss Claris Edwards (Kildale) took over. The clubs first meeting was ‘informal’ and a chairman was not considered necessary. After Mrs Fleming’s day, everybody forgot about this, and chairmen were elected, the first being Capt Hudson, who stayed at the helm until the second world war. As late as 1979, difficulties arose over who should take the chair, only in 1981 was the constitution amended to include a chairman, when Mary Gutteridge (Lakeridge) pointed out that KC licence applications require the signature of the ‘chairman’.


Owing to the outbreak of war, the Lakeland Terrier Club became dormant from 1940 until June 1945. Victory in Europe had been declared on the 8 May and the war in the Pacific raged right up to Japan’s sudden surrender in August so the club had wasted no time in resuming. Catherine Fisher (Whinlatter) took over as secretary and her husband Col Fisher was vice-chair (and always very prominent in the club until his death in 1962) the treasurer was the Fisher’s companion, Miss Muriel Vaughan. Bobby Gibbons (Kiniside) became chairman. Pre-war membership had reached 50, now the membership grew very rapidly to 81.

In his lovely little book on the breed, Archie Kirk says of Catherine Fisher – ‘She lived and breathed for the Lakeland Terrier.’ Perhaps it was this intensity that caused her to get into a number of long running disputes with at least three different members. It was she that was suspended by the KC but Eddie Johnston (Blackwell) was considered the pariah by the club – they passed a motion of censure on him for getting her suspended but were ordered by the KC to hold an extraordinary AGM and withdraw the motion.

During Catherine’s suspension, Miss Vaughan was secretary for a couple of years but quickly handed over when the suspension was lifted, not even waiting for an AGM. No sooner was Catherine back than she had the club pursuing Eddie Johnston with solicitors to report him to the KC for colouring the white feet of Ch Blackwell Minute Marvel. The general impression given by the minute book is of turmoil during her time in office but it’s poignant to see the record suddenly stop in 1961.

Miss Vaughan (now Mrs Fisher) tried to continue as secretary (no election) but by now the colonel must have been very ill and she tendered her resignation. After the colonels death, she succeeded him as president. About 1965 she married the handler, Ernie May, and was known as Mrs Fisher-May. It wasn’t just Catherine Fisher who ‘lived and breathed for the Lakeland Terrier’.

At the National Terrier Show in May 1962, an AGM was held Miss M E Jones (St Bega) was elected secretary and Bob Wagstaff (Cottagepark) chairman. The club continued on a steady course for another decade, when Miss Johns stated her wish to retire and Karen Johnson is asked to become secretary. Karen agreed to do it with the support of her husband, Cyril, as treasurer. They hold office for the following two decades, a long stretch by any standards. Joe Blackburn was prominent as chairman when the club started to hold championship shows in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

It is not possible to mention even a small proportion of those who have contributed to the club over the past 70 years but special mention must be made of Miss Irene Morris, whose Kelda kennel was in the vanguard of the breeds re-establishment after the war. ‘Biddy’ has been a member for over 60 years, and most of the time on the committee.

In a clipping from OUR DOGS breed notes, June 13 1940, Biddy is described as being in disagreement with the policy that Catherine Fisher is advocating, of a total ban on breeding dogs until the ‘end of the war is in sight’. Catherine says ‘Miss Vaughan and I were obliged to pay 8d (3.3p) a pound this week for some very inferior dog meal, and considered ourselves lucky to get it’.

What a time for our patron to be starting a kennel, most others were giving up – true grit continues to this day.

Let’s all wish for continuing harmony for Kirsty Peak as secretary, there are not enough Lakeland enthusiasts nowadays for the breed to survive the kind of divisions that racked the early days.


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