The first meeting of The Chow Chow Club took place on July 1st, 1895, at 66 Carlisle Mansions, Victoria Street, SW1. The Chair was taken by Mr W R Temple and inaugural members present were Lady Granville Gordon, Mrs Arthur James, Mrs G Fitzwilliams, Mr and Mrs Janvrin Dickson, Mrs Burgess, Miss Casella, Miss Armyne Gordon (later Lady Faudel Philips) and Mr Onken.
The Club's Early Years
The first task undertaken at this meeting was to draw up a "Scale of points of Chow Chows", or as we now call it, the Breed Standard, which was based on the Premier Chow of the day, Chow VIII, owned by Mr Temple. The scale of points differs little from our present Standard, except "General Appearance" includes the word Lively, the colour yellow is given which I suppose we call light red, and white, with no mention of cream. Eyes are stated to be "dark and small", which rather refutes the statement sometimes made these days that this is a more recent fad, and must have applied to Chows as they were then, many being recent imports from their native land. In spite also of our opinion of early Chows, the section of forelegs clearly states "with great bone", hindlegs to be the same. There was no mention of height.
Mr Temple was appointed the first Secretary, Mrs Burgess Treasurer and the Rules adopted were those of the St Hubert Schipperke Club, with whom the Chow Club had a close association, running shows in conjunction for a number of years. Club Specials were to be Silver and Bronze Medals, and many famous dogs are listed as winners over the years. Lady Elena Wickham and Mrs Carlton Cowper were elected to the Club, the total membership thus being 25, and the subscription fixed at 1 guinea (£1.05). For some time the Chairman was elected from those present at the meeting.
The first Chow classes, two only, were at the Autumn 1895 Kennel Club Show : Novice and Open. A move to provide a Puppy Class was resisted because of the great liability of the breed to contract distemper. The first Chow show was held in conjunction with the Schipperke Club in December 1895. Mrs Janvrin Dickson suggested that a "real Chinaman" should be asked to judge, but the meeting came to the conclusion "that the Chinaman would probably judge the dogs from an eating point of view, which would not tend towards the improvement of the breed". The prize money at the show was a Sweepstake of the entry fees, half of the money awarded to the First prizewinner, the other half divided so that two-thirds went to Second and one-third to Third. From time to time during the early years, the committee were called upon to decide whether dogs were pure bred Chows.
It was no long before Chow classes were being scheduled at a number of other shows, but a request for support by the Secretary of Birmingham Show was turned down as the committee felt that keeping dogs tied on benches for five days was an act of gross cruelty. Mr Temple resigned the Secretaryship in 1898 and was elected President. Miss Manley took over as Secretary, and Chow classes continued to increase all over the country. Many conditions were made, and accepted, for the awarding of the Club Medals. Judges were voted onto a list at the Annual General Meeting, but usually only about 12 names were required. There was no time limit on length of appointments, Sir William Cospatrick Dunbar was President of the Club for a number of years, Mrs Rawson and Mrs Moore following Miss Manley as Secretary.
Above : The Chow Chow Club's committee at the Centenary Show in 1995
Back row : Martin Hardeman, David Butterworth, Peter Law, Terry Elsworth (Treasurer), Sheila Jakeman, Sandra Stafford, Ian Shaw, Mark Stafford, Martin Wiggall (Cup Steward), John Price
Front row : Diana Phillips, Ann Angelides, Lisa Gregory, Vi Elsworth (Secretary), Toby Ansell (President), Roy Stafford (Chairman), Val Durward, Valerie Law, Jacque Taylor
Meetings were held in Edinburgh as Sir William attended meetings regularly. After this, different areas were used to suit committee members' convenience and the Annual General Meeting was at Crufts. I seem to recall older Chowists telling me of the first day being the show, the second day meetings and so on.
A surprising discovery whilst researching this article was a proposition in 1914 for amalgamation with the Provincial Chow Club, this not having been mentioned previously, and on March 25, 1914, a new Minute Book is headed "The Chow Chow Club (London and Provincial)". It seems the merger took place without acrimony with Mrs Scaramanga being elected President and Mrs Moore continuing as Secretary.
Gold Medals were Awarded from WWI Onwards
During the First World War the committee met only twice a year, but shows continued and Gold Medals were now being awarded. One special award was offered for the Chow with the straightest fore and hind legs. By 1921 the Club was once again titled The Chow Chow Club, only, and familiar names appear in the list of shows with Chow classes, L.K.A., Blackpool, Edinburgh, Richmond, Manchester, and the membership was consulted about judges and venue for the Club show. Many famous names appear as committee members over the years, Miss Baker, Mr Allwright, Mrs Chetwode, Mr Hartwell, Mrs Jones, Mrs Woodcock, Mr Scriven, Mrs Tidd, Mr Will Hally, Mrs Mannooch and Mr Rotch in addition to those already mentioned. In 1923 the Kennel Club turned down a proposition made by Mr Hartwell and seconded by Mr Scriven "to debar any dog or bitch which had not sired or bred a litter for four years, from winning challenge prizes".
Mrs Jones was appointed Secretary/Treasurer in 1925, althought at this time the idea of having a paid Secretary/Treasurer was mooted, but not pursued. The Kennel Club were approached to see if anything could be done to stop the practice at Crufts of charging 1/-(5p.) for taking dogs out at night, and also the exorbitant charge of 2/6d. (12 1/2p.) for benching together.
To mark the Club's appreciation of the long service given to the Club by Mrs Moore as Secretary, a presentation was made, all donors being listed in an illuminated book bound in leather, the cost of which at £5 was viewed with some disquiet, and was deducted from the donations.