The First Airedales in Australia (1890 - 1920)

Airedale c 1910Airedale c 1910

In the 1890's around a dozen people were involved in the initial importing and/or breeding Airedales in Australia. The information on these early importers and breeders and indeed the dogs themselves is rather sketchy. However, this page demonstrates that Airedales were introduced into Australia just 7 years after they were first shown under the name 'Airedale' in England and then traces their development for their first three decades across Australia.

The Initial Imports into Victoria

Airedale 1891Airedale 1891

Airedales were first imported into Melbourne in 1890. At that time Melbourne was the capital of Australia and also it's largest city.  But  by 1890  Melbourne was in an economic slump which lasted until the First World War. With around 20% unemployment at that time, one can only speculate  how so many people could afford to import Airedales, which involved a four months journey by boat from England.

In 1890 Mr A Addy was the first to import Airedales into Australia. Both from an English breeder Mr John John Marston, they came to Victoria. He imported the dog, YEADON RING by Ringmaster out of Phyllis and the bitch YEADON ROSEBUD from Kelly's Charlie out of Wade's Nellie also sired by Ringmaster.

By 1893, this pair had produced MENTONE RINGMASTER, Australia's first significant Airedale. He was one of 9 Airedales shown at the VP & KC Show that year, and competed in the Open Dog class. In 1895 Yeadon Ring and his son MENTONE RINGMASTER plus his kennel mates were sold to Mr Stanley M. Jackson. Hence the accompanying advertisement.

Adv for Mentone RingmasterAdv for Mentone Ringmaster

This dog was supposedly 'the best yet seen in the colonies'!

However, another description of him was that

He looked more like a black and tan Irish Terrier, (but) was sound at both ends with a middle piece to match, possessed a good neck and shoulder, good eye, good ear and skull, but was short and snipey in muzzle.

It is interesting to note that, despite the advertisement, YEARDON RING and his son MENTONE RINGMASTER were later (in 1898) sold to Mr Wright in Western Australia. It is reported in 'Tyzack's Annual (published 1912) that the initial imported bitch 'Rosebud' also went to WA and but accidentally mistaken for a hare and shot.

Western Australia

Airedales c 1900Airedales c 1900

The first report of Airedales in Western Australia is that Mr. Jackson, the Victorian who bought the import Yeadon Ring and his son Mentone Ringmaster, sold them to found the breed in the West. At that time he was living in Coolgardie some 1,000 miles overland from Albany. As I cannot imagine facilities for motor transport or even train lines in those days, one can only speculate what a long trip that would have been on dusty scrub roads by horse and carriage!

Below we have a report of a Mr Wright from the newspaper, 'The West Australian' Thursday 12 May 1898, who had taken up residence in Albany. It states:

There was a small but very representative entry in novice dogs. E. E. Wright, of Albany, secured first prize with Aramac Cracker (Mentone Ringmaster - Bingly Brownie), short and thick in head, and rather small.

In open dogs, Mr. E. Wright's Mentone Ringmaster showing age and thickening in jaw - won over Mr.J.H.Barrow's Taffy. The former is better in colour and harder in coat, on grand straight legs and good feet, and better in eye than his rival, whose coat is broken and not sound in colour. The latter is, however, a. very good dog; and his age should stand to him in the future. Ringmaster secured the champion certificate for best Airedale dog.

Novice, puppy, W.A. bred, and open bitches, were secured by Messrs.Wickham and Rounsvell's Phillis, who also defeated her dam Bingley Brownie, and won the champion certificate for best Airedale bitch, champion Cleveton Pearl, being an absentee."

The Next Imports into Victoria

Adv for 'Bakewell Dirk'Adv for 'Bakewell Dirk'

Mr T Lund imported a bitch, 'MENTONE VIC' by Colne Crack out of Nell who later produced a litter to Yeardon Ring. An advertisement published in the Victorian Poultry and Dog Society's catalogue 1894 for one of these puppies 'Bakewell Dirk' appears here. Please note 'Bitches conveyed from Melbourne to Warrnambool and back by steamer free of charge to owners' (Melbourne being just 348 kilometers or 216 miles from Warrnambool).

Adv for 'Spring'Adv for 'Spring'

Mrs Thompson imported the very successful showdog and sire, Ch.SPRING whelped December 1891 Bred by Dan Hatton by Ch Rock out of Nell (Serjeantson's). Imported by Mrs M Thompson, this dog was a brother to the English winner, Lancastrian who, among other prizes, won the Airedale Club's (UK) Gold Medal at Bingley. The Melbourne terrier judge and breeder Mr. J C Coupe, who had judged at Crufts in England, personally selected him. SPRING proved himself not only at stud, but also in the ring. He won Best of Breed at the Victorian Poultry and Dog Club's Show from an entry of 15, and his puppies won both the Puppy Dog and Puppy Bitch Classes.

The First Pups for Sale

Adv for Airedale pupsAdv for Airedale pups

In 1891 Mr. E A Edmonson imported a second pair, THORPE ROVER by Colne Crack out of Nell and THORPE FAY by Airedale Crack out of Frolic. Thorpe Fay whelped on board, 7 puppies surviving that long voyage. From this litter, a bitch simply called THORPE was the foundation bitch for Mr W King's QUEENSBERRY kennels.

Here is the first advertisement offering an Airedale pups for sale in Australia. It is reproduced from the catalogue of the Essendon Poultry, Dog, Canary and Pigeon Society show held at the Skating Rink, Kensington (Melbourne) in 1892. It is interesting that Mr. Edmonson quotes Mr.Reginald Knight in his advertisement. Mr Knight is the person credited with writing the very first breed standard.

As I believe this description is historically important, please click on the advertisement to enlarge it. Alternatively, the text it is quoted here:

'They can be broken to the gun and broken to ferrets; they can go out ratting but will not touch a rat in the net; they will drive sheep and cattle like a Sheep Dog; fetch and carry like a Retriever; hunt like a Spaniel, and are as fond of water as a duck, and as game as obedient. If broken to the gun, they are one of the best sporting dogs out, as they will hunt, retrieve, set and carry either 'fur or feather' without hardly a mark, and yet, if told, will chase and kill and almost catch anything. I need not tell you how game they are, as many of them have been known to stand up for an hour and forty minutes to Bull Terriers. For anything at which gameness and staying powers are required, this is the Breed which excels'.

Mr W King - Queensberry

Pedigree of Queensberry JubileePedigree of Queensberry Jubilee

It appeared that Mr King never imported, but was obviously he first successful Airedale breeder in Victoria. Perusal of the accompanying pedigree reveals that he cleverly combined the bloodlines of all the existing imports and became an exhibitor without equal in his time. The Victorian Poultry and Dog Society (VP&DS), later Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club (VP&KC) catalogues from 1891 to 1908 demonstrates there was an initial 'boom' in Airedale popularity in Australia. In 1891, only the early imports were exhibited.

However, in 1892, six puppies were shown, three from the THORPE ROVER - FAY litter born on board ship, and three from the imports, YEARDON RING and ROSEBUD. One of the puppies from the latter pair, QUEENSBERRY BELLE won the puppy class and was the same breeding as the bitch named simply 'THORPE' in the accompanying pedigree. Whether these were the same bitch or different bitches is unclear. But certainly a bitch from this breeding founded the kennel owned by Mr W King, and carried his prefix 'Queensberry'. The prefix is confusing, because for many years it was allowable to put your own prefix onto any dog you owned, whether you bred it or not.

Material sourced from the Victorian Poultry and Dog Society (VP&DS) catalogues from 1891 to 1908 indicates that Mr King dominated the show scene for the next eight years. By 1894, there were 14 Airedales exhibited at the VP&DS Show - two Champion dogs, YEARDON RING and his son, MENTONE RINGMASTER, 4 Open Dogs, 2 Open Bitches and 8 puppies, Mr. W King winning both puppy classes and Open Bitch with progeny from SPRING (IMP) and QUEENSBERRY BELLE. Another dog from this breeding, QUEENSBERRY SNIDER whelped in 1894 was owned by John Sevoir who went on become a judge and later made his name with Bulldogs.

Other Imports before 1900

I have also been able to trace these people who were involved with Airedales during this period.

  • A French who, in 1891 imported CRACK by Newsholme Crack out of Nell bred by E. H. Armstrong. This dog was registered in Tyzack's Annual published in 1912.
  • Mr J Robertson also in 1891 imported VICTORIA, a bitch by Colne Crack out of Nell and was bought through Captain Simpson. Mr John Robertson was a well known Terrier man at that time having imported many different breeds of Terriers including Irish, Scottish, Manchester and Dandie Dinmonts. He is also pictured in Australia's first Stud Book Tyzack's Annual[1]   as being on the Board of the Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club in 1891.
  • Mr MacDonnell imported the not so successful JACK SHEPPARD in this period
  • Mrs Waters imported a bitch called AEROPLANE into Victoria[2] 
  • Mr T Garrard from Launceston in Tasmania exhibited in 1898. It is unknown whether or not he was a relative to Sister Garrard who was so well known in the breed some thirty years later.

After 1900- Mr T S Smith- Cheltenham

Ch Accrington Rough (Imp UK)Ch Accrington Rough (Imp UK)

'ACCRINGTON ROUGH' appears to have dominated this period. Tyzack's Annual records he was imported by C Court Rice of NSW. Mr. Court-Rice had judged Crufts 1890, in England and later moved to NSW. Born on April 7th 1898, Accrington Rough he was by Briar Brittle out of Accrington Vixen and bred by G Simpson.

Mr Smith and his Cheltenham prefix became notable because he acquired ACCRINGTON ROUGH from Mr. Court-Rice, then imported CH FRIAR, born September 1904. From MULWALA PIPPA and FRIAR, he bred 3 litters in 1908, 1909 and 1910. He also bred from a dog sometimes called CHELTENHAM BOSS and sometimes called MULAWA BOSS. He also purchased several Airedales from Mr W King and one source says he took over the Queensbury kennels.This dog was also registered in Tyzack's Annual.[1] 

According to Tyzack's Annual[1] , Mr Smith remained active through the next decade registering progeny from 3 litters in 1908, 1909 and 1910 from Ch Friar and Mulwala Pippa. He also registered 5 pups from Cheltenham Boss and Cheltenham Bonza born May 17, 1910.

Other Breeders after 1900

  • Mr J T(Temple) Stephens - He bred under the Mulawa prefix 4 Airedales exhibited in 1904 all sired by Mr. Court-Rice's import, ACCRINGTON ROUGH (pictured above).  This dog plus some others from Mr McEwin Duncan of South Australia were later sold to Mr T (Tommy) S Smith of Cheltenham Kennels (above). Later, from ACCRINGTON ROUGH Mr Stephens he bred a bitch, MULWALA PIPPA who in turn was mated to JACK HAMLIN. Mr J T Stephens was the brother-in-law of Mr McEwin Duncan of South Australia.
  • Mr A French - He imported another dog called CRACK, born November 3rd 1902 this one by Master Briar out of Newsholme Lass also bred by E H Armstrong. This dog was also registered in Tyzack's Annual published in 1912
  • Mr J A Martin of Cobden - He bought YEARDON RING (Imp) in 1895 and then bred a dog called BARKIS which, together with QUEENSBERRY DUKE started the breed in South Australia with Mr McEwin Duncan
  • Mr Adeny - He was one of the new faces that appeared in the early 1900's, showing a dog bearing the 'Millswyn' prefix. This was later the very well known kennel prefix of Mrs Florence.
  • Mr C J Coles - He established the Cleveden prefix and was showing Airedales by 1896' Mr Coles later he founder of the famous 'Coles' department stores.
  • Mr Frank Longmore - He founded the Rockwood Kennels and was prominent during this period, importing CLONMEL GRANDMASTER and CHERRY ROYALIST. Later he became well known as a dog journalist and his photographs on behalf of the Kennel Contrrol Council are legendary.
  • Mr. Burney - He was from the famous Victorian winery 'Chateau Tabilk' which still exists over a century later. He exhibited at least one Airedale at the turn of last Century.
  • F. G. D'Ombrain -  According to Tyzack's Annual[1] , this person showed a puppy called CANTERBURY PHENOID bred by E Maddock by Gaffer x Peggy who won First Prize in 1911

By 1901 there was only 1 Airedale exhibited and 1903 saw but 3. Yet Airedales still grabbed the imagination of some of Victoria's best-known identities shown above.

New South Wales

Adv for Warwick KennelsAdv for Warwick Kennels

From Sydney in 1897 came Mr. T K Steanes from Sydney with THUNDER 11, a Victorian bred dog, son SPRING (IMP). He was among the fifteen Airedales were shown that year. He was reputedly Australia's first dog entrepreneur. He set up an agency for Spratts both in Melbourne and in Sydney. Spratts made all sorts of dog products, from biscuits and other dog foods to various dog medicines and grooming gear. Spratts also established the most famous dog show in UK, prior to it being bought by Mr Crufts. Additionally, Mr. Steanes imported famous books for sale from England and America, and distributed free pamphlets on canine diseases.

Pedigree of 'Jack'Pedigree of 'Jack'

In those days, all exhibits had to display a selling price, and hence dogs changed hands quite frequently. As Mr. Steanes 'Thunder 11' was entered at £1,000 in the 1894 catalogue, one wonders whether Mr. Steanes actually paid this price for him. However, perusal of these prices makes interesting reading when the leading dogs of the day, Mentone Ringmaster and Spring (imp) were priced at £50 and £45 respectively each yet an unplaced puppy, Beeston Prince had £l,000 on his head while his litter brother was "priced at a mere £4!

In 1898, Mr. Steanes again travelled down from Sydney again, this time bringing his new import, 'JACK. Jack's name was later changed to WARWICK BRIAR, hence bearing Mr. Steanes prefix. This was not an uncommon practice at that time.

Ch.Cleveden PearlCh.Cleveden Pearl

The pedigree of WARICK BRIAR published in 'The Dog in Australiasia' by Bielby in 1897 lists his dam as CHOMOLMONDLEY BRIDESMAID whereas the advertisement above lists her as CHOLMONDLEY BRIAR. Perhaps Mr Steans changed her name or alternatively maybe there was a misprint! Whichever it was, this dog brought completely new bloodlines to Australia. It is also interesting to note this dog goes back to the famous dog AIREDALE JERRY often regarded in England as the founder of the breed.

Also mentioned in this advertisement is this bitch, Steans' Champion Airedale bitch CLEVEDON PEARL bred by Mr C.J.Coles

Other NSW Breeders

Before World War One, I managed to find the following breeders:

Mr Charles Court-Rice, an Englishman who judged Crufts in 1890 was a prolific writer on dogs and was an active administrator at that time, came to Australia and brought with him 'ACCRINGTON ROUGH'. Although better type than anything else, he is reported to possess a heavy and very soft coat. This dog pictured above sired several litters in Victoria. This dog was then sold to Mr T S Smith of Cheltenham Kennels in Victoria. Mr Court-Rice was instrumental in forming the British Terrier Club of NSW, a Club that is still active today.

Ch Craigsman KingCh Craigsman King

Mr Court-Rice wrote a book called 'The Dog Book for Australasia' published in 1930, published in Sydney in 1930. In that book the accompanying photograph was published. I assume this was one of Mr Court-Rice's dogs but do not have any other information about either this dog or Mr Court-Rice's Kennels.

Mr J Bell, a Smooth Fox terrier and Irish Terrier fancier,

CC Marshall a Collie and St Bernard breeder,

J Rhodes a Collie exhibitor who imported ELECTRA and NELL around 1900

But many of these original pioneers in NSW did not appear to stay with Airedales, with some of their breeding going to T S Smith in Victoria, and to an A J Frazer in Sydney. But one report written by the late NSW all-breeds judge Ken Rowles says that these early poineers developed the breed from

'Irish Terrier looking dogs to rather big strong coarse fellows'.

South Australia

Mr. McEwin Duncan started the breed off in South Australia in the early 1900's when he purchased a bitch BARKIS from J A Martin of Cobden, Victoria. Mr McEwan Duncan says about BARKIS,'she was on the small side, good in colour, exceptionally hard in coat, snipey in muzzle, wide in front short in neck, and altogether wouldn't be looked at in the ring today - but - she had a wonderful character'.

Mr McEwin Duncan then commissioned someone to select him a dog, QUEENSBERRY DUKE from Mr W W King. QUEENSBERRY DUKE according to Mr McEwin Duncan says: 'I have never seen any dog so utterly sad. His conformation was correct, but he had a soft, linty coat, huge hound ears, and as a dog was all that was undesirable.'

But he persevered with these two, and by careful selection produced some really good dogs, the best being CH MELCOMBE BULLER who won Championship Certificates in both Melbourne and Adelaide. In 1906, Mr McEwin Duncan handed his kennels over to his brother-in-law, Mr J T Stephens. Some stock also went to Mr T Smith

I also have record of G P Jones, A Dickson, G Simpson, K C Barrey, A I Park, and M B McKenzie but I have no information on any of these people.

References and Further Reading

[1] 'Tyzack's Annual' Compiled by T. W.Tyzack and C.S.Turner  Published by the Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club 1912 by Bellamine Bros. Printers, 66-70 Flinders Lane Melbourne Pages 82 (Importations) and 49 (Stud Book).

[2] Greta Florence 'Forty Years with Airedales in Victoria' Published in British Terrier Club of Australia Golden Anniversary, 1907 - 1957 Pages 101 - 105


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