A brief history of Dutch and the Dutch Cavy Club, by Allan Trigg


Dutch cavies of a sort have been in existence for well over a 100 years and DCC member, Tim Brock has done quite a bit of research in this regard with a somewhat mismarked Dutch appearing in an engraving from Buffon's Natural History Book of 1807.

The existence of a Dutch Cavy Club is first mentioned in an English Self Cavy Club yearbook that was owned by the late Margaret Elward and that I originally understood was for the year 1906. However, thanks to the kindness of Madelaine Coomber, I have recently been able to sight this book and have discovered that it is actually dated 1908 but covers the years 1906 to 1908. The principal specialist clubs for rabbits and cavies are listed therein with the secretary of the Dutch Cavy Club shown as Mr J. Mortimer of 28 Ashfield Road, Morley. No county is mentioned and my current atlas for the UK, lists three such towns in Derbyshire, Durham or West Yorkshire. As a result of this publication spanning three years, it does now cast some doubt on the inauguration year but it has been deemed as 1906 for some years now and, at this point in time, no one is exactly around to question matters!

What can be established from a Fur & Feather cutting of 1933 is that, forty years previously, Dutch cavies were shown carrying three colours and that they evolved from Tort and Whites. It appears that sometime around the turn of the century, there was discussion on the future of the Dutch cavy. It was then agreed that they should follow the example of the Dutch rabbit and carry only two colours; red and white or black and white. Also, from Tim Brock's research, it is evident that Agouti Dutch (Golden and the then Grey) were also in existence and, to a lesser extent, Cream Dutch (source: Boy's Own Paper of 1900).

When Chocolate Dutch appeared is not certain although the writer of this 1933 cutting, Mr W.H. Wright, states: I often bred choc Dutch marked from choc-red and whites but never Agouti Dutch from Agouti red and whites. Strange to relate too, the choc Dutch so bred were all sows and well marked but I never bred a boar anywhere near a Dutch marked specimen. It is apparent, though, that they were in existence before WWII and it was Margaret Elward that nurtured the colour through the wartime years and surprised everyone by exhibiting a Chocolate Dutch at the Bradford Ch. Show in the early fifties.

Unfortunately, there is now little documented evidence on the Dutch Cavy Club (in my possession at least) prior to WWII but I can relate that the basis of the current DCC rules was Adopted at the Annual Election 1929. These were left unaltered for decades until an EGM at Writtle, Chelmsford on 5th November 1989 and further amendments and additions have since been made.

The abovementioned Mr Wright could well have been the DCC Secretary during WWII as I did have the opportunity to sight bound copies of Fur & Feather for 1942 during a visit to Eric & Pat Gaskin's home in August 2007. DCC notes were regular contributions by a Mr Wright of Sutton in the Forest, York during that year but I cannot recollect much other than in the January, a red and white Dutch shown by Mr Rae took Best in Show at the Bradford Ch. Show. Dutch were quite popular then with both the adult and young Red classes attracting 16 exhibits each. Entries in the AOC classes though were rather sparse and failed to justify a claim for a separate Black class.

The Club's minutes only date back to 1946 when a general meeting was held at Myrtle Park, Bingley on 14th August. A total of eight members were present. Club funds at that time stood at £34.2s.6d and Mr Wright was still the secretary but, at an early point in the proceedings, was soon to resign. The appointment of a new Sec & Treas. was then discussed and it was Pro. Mr J Ward Sec. Mr Hurst that Percy Ashley, 102 Gt. Jackson St., Manchester be appointed Hon Sec. & Treas. (carried un) However, Percy was more a mouse man than a cavy fancier and although he retained an interest in the DCC, his role as secretary was short-lived and a Mr Wilson replaced him at the next meeting in 1947. The notable names of Mather and Tipper made a first appearance in the Club's minutes on this occasion.

Nothing too sensational was raised at these meetings until January 1948 when there was much debate over a proposal to have flesh ears on Dutch cavies, a failing deserving of disqualification. This highlights how serious a flesh ear was considered and it is still a bad fault. Later, in the October 1948 a meeting with the NCC was proposed to discuss and draw up a uniform standard that included a disqualification for flesh ears.

In November 1949, the flesh ear controversy was still ongoing along with a decision to have DCC prize cards printed for the Annual Stock Show (that was the only DCC event in those days). After this meeting, Mrs B. Mather took over as secretary; a position she held for many years. Subsequently, at a special meeting held at Cleckheaton on 9th October 1950, the flesh ear issue was finally put to rest when it was Pro Mr Craven the standard stayed as it was as the National would not alter its standard again for the Dutch Club. Passed by the meeting.

In 1955, Mrs E.M.Elward makes an appearance as committee member and club judge; the only southerner. Things change in 1959 with Margaret now a Vice President and the committee and judging panel split in two (Northern and Southern). The names of E. Reynolds, L.J. Badcock, C.V. Hammon and C. Collins are now recorded. September 1968 sees the DCC Stock Show come south to Guildford with Eric Reynolds, Jack Price and Joan Radeglia very much instrumental with the organisation of this event. Margaret Elward, Sid Mather (Guildford classes) and I (DCC) were all busy judging on this day.

Two years later, the DCC Annual Show was again at Guildford and at the AGM, it was agreed that the south could have an area show when the ASS was not in the area and provided it was arranged with no cost to the parent club. Margaret took over the mantle of Southern Area Secretary and held the position until her death in June 2005. It was at this 1970 event that I first met Brian Passmore of St Austell. Brian was, of course, the driving force behind the DCC South West Area Shows until an allergy to the dust from hay forced his untimely exit from the show scene. In addition, he was involved in the production of the Club's first newsletters with full show reports from the judges and AGM news.

Much has transpired since then with new colours evolving (Cream Agouti, Lilac and more recently, Chocolate Agouti), the Club staging as many as five area shows plus the Annual Stock Show and now a roving Margaret Elward Memorial Show.

After my departure as DCC Secretary/Treasurer in 2005, Chris Peachey of Fareham kindly took over the reins and she did much to keep the Club active and to the fore on the U.K. cavy scene. Due to unfortunate circumstances, Chris felt it necessary to resign in 2009 and these positions were then taken up by Maggie McKay of Dover. Unfortunately, in September 2011, she was diagnosed with liver cancer with the sad inevitable consequence that her days on this earth were numbered. The end still came as a shock as she remained amazingly upbeat and good humoured when I last spoke to her; losing the battle on 11th May 2012.

As a consequence, a new secretary/treasurer was needed but because of some internal personality problems the job was, initially, seen as something of a poison chalice. However, the chairman, Graham Godfrey were successful in persuading Amy Heale to consider the posts and at a September Executive Meeting, she was duly elected as the Club's new Secretary/Treasurer. After an eventful AGM in December 2012 and events at the Bradford Ch. Show in January 2013, the Club returned to normality and ever since, Amy has done a brilliant job and members could not be more pleased.

She, together with the new Executive, continues with the ethic of doing all possible to improve the Club and promote the breed throughout the UK.



DCC President


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