The Bowhit Pembrokes

Sid and Nellie Bowler

I don't think that anyone would dispute that the first really great show kennel of Pembroke was Bowhit. This was owned by Nellie Bowler (née White) but was very much a joint venture with her husband Sid. He ran a large family grocer's shop in the High Street, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, the town which is the cradle of the breed, and they lived at Benton House in Goat Street.

They were already very experienced breeders of Sealyham Terriers, the other native breed of the county, and dogs such as Ch Bowhit Peter and Ch Bowhit Spargonie were highly successful in that breed. Like several other Sealyham breeders from Wales, they realised the potential of the county's little cattle dog and Sid was among the founders of the Welsh Corgi Club.

They quickly emerged as the most prominent of the Welsh kennels of the era and were clearly an energetic and enterprising couple. A great many of the breeders in other parts of the country who took up the breed from around 1930s onwards obtained their foundation stock from Bowhit. The kennel sounds like quite an extensive operation: as one of the ads says: "Puppies are continually coming in from bitches at walk at various farms."

The dog who made their Pembroke kennel famous was Ch Bowhit Pepper (born 16.10.1926) whom they were clever or lucky enough to obtain in the mid '20s. By the well known sire Caleb ex a black and tan bitch of unknown breeding called Glandofan Fury, he eventually gained his title.

Ch. Bowhit Pepper

He seems to have been a slow maturer as he was beaten to his championship not only by two of his daughters (Shan Fach, the first Pem champion, and Mrs Bowler's Bowhit Bisco) but by two other males, Bonny Gyp and Mirador Sensation. However he totally eclipsed those two males when it came to breeding on and he was much the dominant influence on the breed until the advent of the apparently unrelated Ch. Crymmych President.

Pepper's tail male line survived until it petered out around 1960 but of course he features countless times in all pedigrees. He also sired the Cardigan champion My Rockin Mawer mentioned in previous posts.

The photo here (sorry about the poor reproduction) is a rather different one from the usual. He does appear to be quite a strongly made dog.

As well as Bisco, who looks a more elegant type than her sire, the kennel produced champion bitches in Belle and Bertha, and males in Pivot, Pompom and Prince. Some were from strong Pepper lines, others bought in as puppies and not necessarily closely related, for example Pivot who was bred by Lord Hothfield and by President.

In those days kennels were much more ready to sell on to other breeders their older dogs, even champions, than they are today. Bisco went to Rozavel and eventually to New Zealand (wonder what happened to her?)*, Belle joined the Fox-Red kennel, Pivot went to Sierra in the US and became the first American champion (and ended up with Derek Rayne), Pompom went to Lisaye and Prince to Teekay.

Ch.Bowhit Pivot (left) and Ch. Bowhit Belle

Countless other Bowhits (always named P for males, B for bitches) went to other kennels and the last of any significance was Bowhit Budding, dam of two post-war Parmel champions.

There was also Ch Bit O'Coppy (from a father-daughter mating on Pepper), bred by Nellie and owned by Mrs P Bowler who I guess must have been their daughter-in-law. Their daughter Thora was married to William Jenkins of the Thorwill affix.

For clear text read here

Other CC winners included Bowhit Brick, pictured in the above advertisement (kindly sent by Janusz Opara). I think there might be some confusion in the name of the other bitch in the photo as the Bowhit Beauty who appears in many pedigrees was born rather later and was not a sister of Pickles and Primo. They did have a sister called Biddy so perhaps it is her! There is an intriguing aspect to this ad in that it twice refers to the Welsh Corgi Club's show (this is 1935 I guess). It would be interesting to know more about that event. We are always told that the Welsh Corgi League's first open show in April 1939 (which they tactfully asked Mr Bowler to judge - it was sensible to have the Welsh breed doyen and WCC chairman on side at the foundation of the new 'English' club) was the first show confined to Corgis - so presumably the WCC event in 1935 was held in conjunction with an all-breed event. But it would be good to know for sure.

Mrs Bowler died in April 1947 and I think Sid lived on a bit longer. Certainly they left a tremendous legacy to the dog world in the promotion of Pembrokeshire's two wonderful breeds.

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*) Comment by: Paula Mitchener, New Zealand
Quote from an old article:

Ch. Bowhit Bisco

About this time Mrs Wall bought Champion Bowhit Bisco from Mrs Thelma Gray. She was mated in England but proved not to be in whelp. She was the first Corgi imported to New Zealand. Mrs Wall sent her over to Sydney to a dog there and she whelped two dogs and two bitches. We saw the litter and wanted to buy one of the dogs, but were dissuaded as he was parrot-mouthed. Mrs Wall then sold Bowhit Bisco and one of her daughters to Australia.