The history of retrievers from 1903—1950

The history of retrievers compiled from the scrapbooks of H. Reginald Cook

As members may know, the Society has the scrapbook journals of H. Reginald Cooke on indefinite loan. In 1996, Amelia Jessel approached Judi Seall to see if she could prepare collages, etc., for use on a stand at Crufts’ – The Working Gun Dog Forum. Subsequently, Cooke’s Grandson, Randle Cooke, gave permission to edit the journals into a book, The History of Retrievers 1903 — 1950. Randle has been extremely enthusiastic about the project and has very kindly written the Foreword.

All the information presented has been taken from the wonderful journals compiled and belonging to Mr Cooke. lt attempts to mirror the journals, in that each one of the seven volumes is represented by a chapter in the book. Each chapter contains the most prized of the journal’s entries for its period.

The journals commence in the year 1903, at a time when Mr Cooke’s Riverside Kennels were already being acclaimed as one of the most outstanding, producing Dual Champions from the start. The final entry is in 1951, the year that Mr Cooke died. Between those years, the journals offer an amazingly detailed, thorough and fascinating glimpse of the Field Trial exhibitor’s lifestyle.

Reading the journals was a privilege for Judi. The task of condensing them began in 1997, and Judi began by choosing her favourite entries: she never tired of reading them and each time she returned to them she found something else to include. However, she had to stand back and she hopes that the choices she has made will give as much pleasure to the reader as they have given to her. Throughout, she was encouraged by Amelia Jessel.

The book will be of much specialised interest both to Field Trial and Show exhibitors of the Flatcoated Retriever breed. More generally, it provides a remarkable picture of contemporary sporting life at the turn of the century — dare one say of a happier bygone age. I doubt if my Grandfather ever imagined that the contents of the journals he kept for so many years of his long life would ever be shared with successive generations of Flatcoat lovers. It would have given him immense pleasure to know that, through Judi Seall’s initiative and efforts, this will now be so.

This quote is taken from the foreword of the book, which was kindly provided by Randal Cooke

As Judi recently remarked, it is extremely sad that Amelia Jessel would not live to see the book finished. Judi has now dedicated the book in memory of Amelia.

The official launch of the book was at the Game Fair at Shuttleworth Park, Biggleswade in July 2001.

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