Bolton GSD Club History

Condensed History of


1926 – 2016

In January 1926 a small band of enthusiasts, gathered together in a cottage in Astley Bridge near Bolton, to talk about their dogs. Their breed was a comparatively new one in England (namely the Alsatian) having been introduced after the First World War

This small band of people owned between them eight Alsatians. This number represented two-thirds of the breed in and around Bolton, the rest were owned by a Miss. Wood whose father had been given a bitch in whelp from a German business associate. At the above meeting it was decided to form a club, the second breed club of its kind in the north, being established only a few months after the then defunct Northern Alsatian Club based in Oldham/ Greenfield area. The club was registered with the Kennel Club as Bolton & District Alsatian Club and the first show of the newly formed club was held in the Bark St. Lads Club, Bolton.

At the beginning of the Second World War, the activities of the club were temporarily suspended, but the services of some Alsatians were called upon during the Manchester blitz to search for people buried in the ruins of bombed out buildings. In 1947 the club resumed its activities with various training sessions at the Bolton Greyhound Track, later moving to Spa Road Bolton which became part of a public park. The club continued to function through the fifties with no permanent base, and not surprisingly with mixed fortunes and various players added their part to club’s rich history.

A succession of Officers sought to keep the club viable with Obedience – Working Trials and Ring craft trainers. It would appear around the late fifties and early sixties problems beset the club, but archival material which would have helped to determine the precise nature of the problems were not available, since at a meeting held on July 12 th 1961 the extraordinary measures proposed by the then Chairman, to destroy all club records. We assume to make a fresh start. It has been recorded that it was considered to be financial as an application to hold a show in 1963 had been refused by the Kennel Club and that no further applications to hold shows would be considered by the relevant Committee.

A difficult re- birth then took place. At an AGM held in January 1963 a new President and committee were elected. Two items of news gave rise to optimism. The Treasurer reported that the club was now on a sound financial basis for the first time in several years, and that the Kennel Club had given its consent to a Members Sanction show to be held in the March of that year.

In 1967 the club’s affairs took a marked turn for the better when two members of committee were able to acquire a lease for our present training ground in Little Lever, Bolton we are there to this present date on Sunday afternoon’s. The ground is roughly 2 acres in size, and was originally the reservoir for a small bleaching and dyeing works which had closed down and become derelict. The acquisition of this lease presented the club with a whole series of new problems; one of which the reservoir needed to be filled in and the ground levelled and grassed over. A club house had to be erected with mains water and electricity supplied. These problems were, however infinitely preferable to those that had existed in the early days when the club was forever, cap in hand seeking venues to hold both training sessions and shows. The bricks from the old mill were used to fill in the land and all this was done by hand and the good will of the membership. This now gave the club some stability for the first time in its history with a permanent base for all its activities.

From this the club continued to flourish on the 16 th January 1971 the club held its first Championship show for the breed. The Bitch judge for this show was Miss Margaret Ann Baldwin of the Picardy affix (whom we hear sadly has recently passed away) her co-judge was Mr W. Cartwright whose prefix was Dawnway, and can still be heard of today. These Championship shows were held each January and had become well established in the German Shepherd Dog exhibitor’s calendar, regularly attracting 250-350 entries. For many years the club held its Championship shows at the Bolton Sports Centre, an excellent venue in the centre of town and convenient parking and easy access to the motor way networks. The Championship shows became an annual event, until the rotation of shows in 1994 were brought about by the Kennel Club.

In 1972 the club was invited to join the European (now the World) Union of German Shepherd Dogs but was prohibited from accepting this invitation by its rules and constitution, which were and still are the foundation rules formulated by the kennel Club for any new club when setting up. Instead the club decided to join the German Shepherd Dog Breed Council, which was under discussion at that time. When the Breed Council was approved by the Kennel Club, the Bolton Club became a founder member. This Council was fated not to mature due to lack of support and, indeed in 1978 the club resigned its membership. Shortly afterwards the Kennel Club withdrew its approval and the Council folded. The German Shepherd Dog Breed Council was reformed again in 1986. Bolton GSD Club renewed its membership and was a founder member; to date is still active within it.

1976 saw the clubs Golden Jubilee, a commemorative medallion was given to every exhibitor who entered any of our three shows.

In 1981 the Kennel Club invited all G.S.D. Breed clubs to attend a meeting at its headquarters in Clarges Street to discuss the revision of the Breed Standard. The club is proud to have presented one of the four standards from which the new standard was eventually devised. Almost simultaneously, the Club decided unanimously that is name should be changed from Alsatian to the original name of the German Shepherd Dog which was used throughout the world, but was only just becoming acceptable by the Kennel Club.

From its earliest days the Club has recognised that, in addition to its principal interest in matters relating to the breeding and showing of the German Shepherd Dogs, it should be a welcome source of expertise and advice to all dog owners. Few people are fortunate enough to possess the physical resources, the time and the money to embark upon the breeding and showing of dogs, however much they admire the prize specimen. To this end the club has insisted in its constitution that one area of its activities should be devoted to providing training classes for owners of all types of dogs. Each Sunday afternoon on the Club’s training ground can be seen up to thirty owners and handlers at all levels of proficiency training. These activities are perhaps those that make the Club so acceptable in the area, developing in owners, many of them totally new to dog ownership, the skills that will enable them to handle their dogs with confidence and responsibility wherever they go. In general training work, the Club has sought to develop a philosophy that dog ownership is a serious and responsible matter. We believe also that ownership should be a matter of admiration by others and fun for the owners. At this time members from the advanced class, comprising of the more proficient handlers and dogs, formed the nucleus of a demonstration tem which gave pleasure to hundreds of people at fetes and carnivals during the summer months through its displays of basic handling and agility skills.

1994 saw the club with its own ‘ Annus horribilis’ a fated AGM was brought to a very abrupt close when a member was found to be recording the event without the knowledge or permission of the Chairman. When asked to remove the recorder the member refused so the Chairman simply brought it all to a close. It was rather an aggressive AGM with accusations of all kinds being brought forward. Directly after this meeting the secretary of the time became ill and suffered a fatal heart attack as a consequence. Bank holiday Monday May 1994 an 8 year old child set fire to our club hut, said child was also known to the Police for arson! We lost everything; Paperwork, printing press, agility equipment, lawn mowers etc. the list goes on. When everything had been cleared away we then ran the club for the rest of that year from the back of a car. Keeping what little could be salvaged in a garage. A year later we finally got planning permission from the council who own our land and a new club hut was erected one Saturday. When we arrived the following day the vandals had struck, and had broke every window in the place and ripped off the door. The hut was secured for the time being and with a lot of support from the committee and members the club finally got back into business and continued training on Sundays. Then three years later the vandals struck one more this time coming through the roof of the club hut, during this time it had rained like never before so the place was soaked to say the least. Our entire hut had been trashed inside and the rain had finished it off. So we picked ourselves up and started all over again. This time we threw ourselves on the mercy of the council. Who happened to have a spare metal container hut that was kitted out inside and we could have it for free… This container had been the changing room for a local bowling team and they were having a new one. The council even agreed to transport it for us free of charge. It now sits resplendent alongside our other storage container. During all this time the club kept going holding both Open breed shows and Championship shows.

1995 saw out last Championship show being held at Bolton Sports Centre otherwise known as Silverwell Street. It was closed and demolished to make way for a car park. As the rotation of CC’s had set in we were only able to hold Open shows for a couple of years. The year 2000 saw a change for the club in venue. This time we had moved to Osbaldeston Hall Farm Riding Centre, Osbaldeston nr Blackburn, Lancashire. The committee of the time decided that it was about time we invited overseas judges to officiate at our Champ shows. So Herr Rene Rudin from Switzerland judged Dogs (first time in the country), with Herr Peter Fetten judging females. A new century a new show scene for Bolton GSD. We stayed here for a few happy years until 2007. When the owners told us after the show that they no longer were opening their venue to dog shows. We were on the move again, and in 2009 we were able to hire Bolton Harriers stadium, Long Lane, Bolton. Our Championship shows were always held in January and were in an indoor venue; by changing the venue to an outside venue this meant a change of date was inevitable.

2015 was the clubs 89 th year of operation and a Championship show was held. Our judge for this show was Mr Karl Otto Ojala from Norway. This show also saw a change in our scheduled classes, as for the first time we included classes for the Long Coated German Shepherd, which for many years had been considered a fault, and still is by many. This show was also a bit of history for the club as we were unable to hire the venue for the Saturday; due the venue holding a 10k run (some may have seen something of this at the previous show when the runners were asked to leave track, when they refused we told them the breed of the dogs that were to be shown, boy did they move quickly) and had to change to a Sunday.

The future although not too far away: - 2016 is the 90 th anniversary show for Bolton & District German Shepherd Dog Club. We are holding a Championship show on Sunday 3 rd April. In fact this will be the club’s 40th Championship show.

One rule has always stayed within our constitution - No officer or committee member of the club & their immediate resident family may exhibit/enter animals at the club’s shows. They give the day up for their club.