The History of the URC

The United Retriever Club was founded in 1946 by a group of retriever enthusiasts in the Midlands, brought together as a result of the enthusiasm and determination of Mrs Lindy White, later to become Mrs Lindy Anderson. They felt that training and working retrievers should be available to anyone who was interested, it should not depend on having money and land. They set up training classes and encouraged members to enter Field Trials.

In 1947, what later became the Midland Area of the Club held the first ever working test. This was to allow members to assess the progress of their young dogs. They then applied to the Kennel Club for recognition of Gundog Working Tests; so the United Retriever Club was responsible for starting the Working Tests which now are organised by clubs all over the country every weekend throughout the summer.

Also in 1947 the first show took place, a Special Limited Show in the name of the British Retriever Club. This name was later disallowed by the Kennel Club and so was changed to the United Retriever Club. It was not until nearly ten years later in 1956 that a second show was organised, this was our first Open Show, but it made a loss, so was dropped until 1959, when due to the generosity of Jack and Lucy Bacon, the Open Show became an annual event. The first Championship Show followed in 1963 replacing the Open Show for the first few years, but gradually evolving to the pattern we have today of two Open Shows, one in the spring in the Midlands, the other in the autumn in the south with the Championship Show in August.

The first field trial was held in October 1949 at Ingestre, an Open All-Age Stake as it was called and was followed by a Non-Winner Stake in December at Beechwood Park, Herts. By 1951 field trials were growing so quickly in popularity it was decided to appoint the first Field Trial Secretary. Within just five years in 1954, the Kennel Club recognised the high standard of our trials by announcing that the winner of our Open Stake would qualify for the Retriever Championship. Today the nine Areas of the Club take it in turn to find grounds, ensuring that our Novice Stakes are held all over the country, while the Field Trial Secretary has the responsibility for finding grounds for the two day Open Qualifying Stake.

By the early 1950s it was obvious that the new club was a success and that there was a demand for local training classes in other parts of the country so the Southern Area was formed followed by the Bucks Area, Essex Area and a North West Area. The last mentioned subsequently disappeared, but only recently has been reborn as the new Northern Area.

Growth continued rapidly in the 1960s with the formation of the Hampshire Area and the North Midlands Area, to be joined in the 1970s by the Border Counties and Cotswold Area and the Lincolnshire Area. Recently, a ninth Area has been formed in the north west, the Northern Area.

To keep the members of the ever growing club in touch with each other, it was agreed back in the 1950s to publish newsletters on a regular basis. Today all members receive a Yearbook in the spring and the Areas send out their own Newsletters to complement the information obtainable on this site.

Although most Working Tests have always been organised at a local level by the Areas, in 1947 the first national working test was held. This became an annual event and from 1959 the emphasis changed from individual to a team competition. The Area Finals, as they are known, has earned the reputation of being a top quality event, copied by other societies and is keenly contested by the teams from each Area. It is the only event on the calendar where it is guaranteed that you will find representatives from all the Areas, so it has become very much a social occasion as well.