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Home of early dog shows celebrates 100 years

In 1906 the first of what was to become a regular parade of Kennel Club championship dog shows was held at the Royal Horticultural Halls in Westminster in London. For the next fifty years, the Halls saw regular Alsatian, Dachshund, Bulldog, Fox Terrier, Poodle and Cocker Spaniel Shows amongst many others, as well as regular fund-raising events and shows for Our Dumb Friends’ League - now the Blue Cross.

The Lindley Hall had been operated in 1904 by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in order that the Royal Horticultural Society’s own flower shows could be held there on a regular basis, but because of its prime location and spacous facilities I had already started to attract interest from the Kennel Club and other event organisers. In 1907 it played host to the prestigious South African Products Exhibition, also opened by King Edward VII. The Toy Dog, Show, that took place in December of 1913 was closely followed by the Pekingese Palace Dog Show and the Pekingese Dog Show in 1914.

Local clubs such as the Kensington Canine Society Dog and national organistions such as the French Bulldog Club of England and the National Terrier Club heard about the success of these events and decided to hold their own events at the Halls.

Almost 100 years later, as the Royal Horticultural Halls is celebrating its Centenary, some of the artefacts and memorabilia from these early dog shows will be on show at an exhibition taking place on 14 and 15 September at the Lawrence Hall. Unique photography from some of these early dog shows will be on show, as will original correspondence from some of the organisers such as James Pye, who held his events at the venue from 1946 until 1953.

Other significant events that have taken place at the Royal Horticultural Halls over the past 100 years include Suffragete gatherings attended by Christable and Emiline Pankhurst. The Independent Labour Party, the London Labour Party and the Fabian Society all held regular events as did many philanthropic organisations, charities and social reform groups that raise the consciousness of the lack welfare for humans and animals at the time, and raised funds for worthy causes.