THE HISTORY OF THE CITY OF BIRMINGHAM CANINE ASSOCIATION
Early in 1944 the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Alderman Lionel Aldridge, called a meeting in the Lord Mayor’s parlour at the Council House. This meeting consisted of himself, Captain W Cunningham (Manager of the local Westminster Bank and a former member of the Manchester Dog Show Society), Mr P Shilcock (Chairman of the then Sutton Coldfield Canine Society which ran an Exemption Show on the ‘Big Top’ site in aid of the war charities), Mr Frank Riego (Chairman of the British Alsatian Association) and Mr Owen Grindey (then Secretary of the Midland Chow Club).
The meeting was called to discuss Alderman Aldridge’s suggestion that a show in aid of the Lord Mayor’s War Relief Fund should be held on the ‘Big Top’ site created by the German bombing of the corner of New Street and High Street, Birmingham.
Mr Shilcock favoured another Exemption Show, but Mr Grindey and Mr Riego felt that a show sponsored by the Lord Mayor and the Corporation should be on a much grander scale, especially as it was to be a “City” venture and in aid of such a cause. They won the day.
Mighty efforts to organise the show were put into action. On Wednesday, 9th February, 1944, the Lord Mayor summoned an inaugural meeting and the attendance list reads like a “Who’s Who” of the prominent Midland dog people of the time.
The “Brighter Birmingham City Canine Association” was created with Mr P Shilcock as its Chairman. Captain Cunningham appropriately took the job of Treasurer whilst the Secretary’s post fell to Mr Owen Grindey with the Lord Mayor being elected Patron-in-Chief, a procedure which has been followed ever since.
At the first organised show a total of 529 dogs competed in 137 classes and benching was arranged by the Lord Mayor. The show was a tremendous success with an overwhelming gate. Many well-known dog show personalities attended and the judging panel was drawn from the best available judges of the day.
In July the following year a similar Limited Show of 196 classes was staged in Calthorpe Park, this time in conjunction with the City’s “Holidays at Home” programme. For this show there were 578 dogs entered and 1,790 entries received. One must bear in mind that these were all from within a 25 mile radius of the City Centre. For this show the railway company somehow or other managed to lose the catalogues and it was only after a very extensive search that they were found on a platform very neatly stacked up, awaiting forwarding to Bradford … the home of the printer who had despatched them.
Backed by the City Corporation and the active support of the then Lord Mayor, the Birmingham Dog Show Society and Air Commodore J A C Cecil-Wright, the Association was granted Championship status by the Kennel Club and on 27th/28th August 1948, a Championship Show was staged in Handsworth Park, adjacent to the Horse show. The name of the Association was changed to the City of Birmingham Canine Association just prior to this first Championship Show.
During its time as a show-promoting Association, “the City” has had only six Chairmen: Mr W C Yates, then Mr P Shillcock who was succeeded by Mr John MacDougall who also became Chairman of the Kennel Club, Mr Ron Bradbury, and Mr Mike Stockman who was recently succeeded by Mr Bill King.
Mr Owen Grindey remained Secretary of the Association until his death, after which his widow the late Mrs Olive Grindey took over the position. It is interesting to note that from 1944 until after the Championship Show in 1994 (a period of 50 years) the Grindey’s had run the City of Birmingham Shows! The current Secretary is only the fourth in the Association’s history, taking over from Mr Keith A W Young, who ably assisted by his wife June, was at the helm for 20 years. Both Keith and June were made Honorary Life members of the Association in recognition of the wonderful service they have given to the Association.
The current secretary Mr David Bell succeeded Mr Young in 2014 having been a member of the Management Committee for 12 years and more recently Show Manager.