KATHLEEN, DUCHESS OF NEWCASTLE, was President of the Wire Fox Terrier Association during the years 1916-19 and a member of the Association until her death in 1955.    She had a long and illustrious career as a breeder, exhibitor and judge of wire fox terriers.  picIt is true to say that her renowned "of Notts" strain of wires were the foundation of some of the most successful pedigrees of the early 20th century and, therefore, played a major role in the development of the modern wire fox terrier.  When we compiled our centenary calendar, the Association used Comedian of Notts to illustrate one of the leading dogs at the turn of the last century.  This dog was the sire of Ch. Chunky of Notts who was the grandsire of Int. Ch. Welwire Barrington Bridegroom, whom many regard as the father of the "modern" wire.  Bridegroom was the grandsire of Ch. Talavera Simon.  The most sensational dog of 1916 was Ch. Common Scamp of Notts, who won his first challenge certificate at the Association's Championship Show in that year.  Her Grace must have had a most enjoyable show because her bitch, Ch. Cocoatina of Notts won our Grand Challenge Cup.

As a tribute to a truly great breeder of wire fox terriers the following extract, from an article published in 1928, is shown again:  the advice given applies equally today as when it was first written.


THE CHOICE OF A SIRE by Her Grace the Duchess of Newcastle

With regard to wire breeding, my idea is that the same points apply in the breeding of all livestock.  Before choosing a sire I write out both his pedigree and the female's.  I then put them together as though I were writing the pedigree of their progeny and then I try to visualise the different terriers whose names I see before me.  If I see bad coats, thin feet, large ears, light eyes, short, thick heads and hindquarters on many, I know what to expect!

A successful sire is nearly always a very dominant dog with some points strongly accentuated, and in his pedigree you will find a careful crossing of the best lines of the grand or great-grand parents.  

Coats, feet and hindquarters, all want great attention.  We have evolved a very high class quality animal in the present-day wire, but I am beginning to ask myself, are we getting too far away from the old standard?

"Bone and strength in small compass" a terrier should stand "like a cleverly-made hunter".

Well, I believe we are getting terriers too much like a great slashing blood horse of the Aintree type, not a fox catcher and I am sure with too much size.  So, in choosing a sire, this must all be considered, both in the dog himself and his back pedigree.

All our best terriers up 'til now seem to have been bred by returning to the best and strongest lines in their back pedigrees, but this has been going on for so long so that I am wondering "what about robustness?"




Col. Phipps was educated at Repton and Oxford and served for many years in the Northamptonshire Regiment.  During the First World War he was awarded the Military Cross and mentioned in despatches.  After being wounded three times he was put on the Reserve of Officers in the Regular Army.  "Phippy" as he was affectionately known, had a deep interest in all canine matters, being apic member of the Kennel Club General Purposes Committee and two other Committees of the Ruling Body.  He was President of the Kensington Canine Society, an organisation that, alas, is no longer in existence.  The title of Master of Foxhounds was earned through his association with three foxhunting packs - the Avon Vale, the Old Berkeley and the Northumberland Hunts.

The prefix TALAVERA was adopted when he joined the Wire Fox Terrier Association in 1923.  Due to the quality of the stock he produced, the prefix will forever have a place in the history of the breed.  There are not many wire fox terriers today which do not have blood from the famous Ch. Talavera Simon or his son, Romulus, in their pedigree.  Col. Phipps owned, or bred, 15 champions.  These included, beside the one and only Simon, champions Talavera Marcus, Gamester, Margaret, Ethel, Bishop's Neglected, Newmarket Brandy Snap, Paul, Cynthia, Romulus, Priscilla, Jupiter, David, Nigel and Ch. Stocksmoor Sportsman.

Col. Phipps returned to the army at the beginning of the Second World War and after the conflict was in great demand as a judge of the terrier breeds.  He retired to a farm in Kent and remained there until his death in 1958.



Mr. J. A. Brearley of Elland, West Yorkshire, purchased Ch. Talavera Nigel just before the outbreak ofpic the Second World War in order to establish a breeding programme with his foundation bitch who later became his first wire champion -  WYREDENE FASHION QUEEN.  He moved into wires after having been a very successful exhibitor of rough coated St. Bernards - his stock won over 7,000 awards.  Nigel was by Ch. Talavera Jupiter ex Talavera Cleopatra.  This dog's show career was described at the time as a blaze of triumph  In 1935 he was awarded 9 consecutive challenge certificates!  He was offered at stud during the war to a strictly limited number of bitches at a fee of 5 guineas (£5.50) when the average stud dog was on offer at 3 guineas (£3.30).


Mr. Brearley purchased Romulus at the same time as he bought Nigel.  This dog was already in great demand at stud, being the dog, said by many, to be the father of the modern wire  (Ch. Talavera Simonpic ex Talavera Sparkle).  Romulus was a by word in the world of wires at the time as a remarkable producer of winners which fully justified the opinion of the leading authorities in the breed of him being the most outstanding stud force in the country.  During the period of hostilities, the showing of dogs was limited to a radius of 25 miles from the show venue and there were no championship shows at all.  This dog would have had many champions to his credit if CC's had been on offer.  Commanding a stud fee of £5 guineas he was, like Nigel, kept at stud into the mid-1940's so somewhere in the long pedigree of many of today's wire fox terriers the names of Ch. Talavera Romulus and Ch. Talavera Nigel will appear.

(the photographs of Romulus and Nigel are reproduced by kind permission of Dog World




Ernest Robinson of the Zeloy Kennels was elected Vice-President of the Wire Fox Terrier Association in 1966 and succeeded to the Presidency in 1967.  He commenced exhibiting wires in 1939 and became a member of the Association immediately after the Second World War.  There were very few people who equalled Ernie's enthusiasm when it came to the exhibiting his dogs which were of the highest quality.  His ZELOY strain of wires has had a great influence on the breed since the war.  Many of today's exhibits still show the names of Zeloy champions in their long pedigrees.  The first challenge certificate won by this doyen of the breed was at the Association's Championship Show at Sheffield in 1959 with Ch. Zeloy Endeavour.  He won best in show with Zeloy Exemplar at the WFTA Championship Show in 1966 at Northampton.  pic

There is little doubt that the most influential champion bred by this kennel was Ch. Zeloy Emperor who went on to be the top sire of all time in the breed siring, as he did, 22 British champions, 33 American champions and hundreds of champions world-wide.   Other examples of this brilliant breeder's prowess are Zeloy Crusader, Zeloy Select, Meritor Zeloy Sunflower, Zeloy Mooremaides Magic and Gosmore Kirkmoor Storm.

Robbie was a quiet and friendly character, always the typical Yorkshire man.  I heard many tales of his excursions to dog shows from Cyril Whitham who, along with my father, accompanied Ernie to many shows.  On a journey to Scotland, having passed Scotch Corner, Cyril enquired if Ernie knew the way.  "Of course I do" he replied.  "We'll be there by 7 a.m.".  When he stopped the car near Waverley Street Station, Ernie said "Here we are on time, as I forecast".  Cyril replied, "Yes, we are in Edinburgh, but the show's in Glasgow".




Cyril Whitham died on the 2nd January 1992 after a prolonged illness, leaving a gap in the breeding of wire fox terriers that may never be filled.  My brother, Frank, and I knew Cyril from the early 50's through our parents, as a close family friend.  They all shared a common interest in dogs, horses and canaries.pic

Cyril's foundation bitch was Tolhill Treacle, bred by Mr. H. Shepherd, sired by Ch. Axholme Double Strike ex Barkley Miss Patricia who was bred by our mother, Mrs. Albert Kellett.  Those early years were filled with Cyril's good humour and friendly advice for all manner of problems.  After having his breeding stock almost wiped out by distemper, he was left with one stud dog, Tolhill Masterpiece.  He had the good fortune to be able to buy back a bitch he had earlier sold - Cheview Candida.  She was mated to Masterpiece and the legend of Townville had a new beginning.  The partnership with his wife, Edith, went on to breed many champion wire fox terriers, smooth fox terriers and Lakeland terriers.  Over the years Townville achievements have been well-documented (see the Townville Story by Mr. G. Morris, published in Terrier Type USA.)   The Townville Kennels produced some 26 UK champions and many more champions were bred overseas from its stock.   

Cyril Whitham was a past President of the WFTA and a member of its committee for many years.  He was also a committee member and trustee of the Fox Terrier Club.

Whilst serving with the 7th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, he attained the rank of sergeant and during his service career proved to be a promising boxer.  He also played professional Rugby League Football.


We are indebted to the late Bill Kellett who wrote and contributed the articles on Ernest Robinson and Cyril Whitham