Ch/Ir Zephyr of Brome

Ch. Zephyr of Brome

Few Pems have caused as much of a sensation in the ring as Ch/Ir Zephyr of Brome, bred and owned by Rose Johnson from Yorkshire and born in October 1953.

Three contemporary advertisements featured here tell us plenty about him and the mark he made, and the piece by the great all-round judgeLeo Wilson perhaps his biggest fan, gives quite a bit of his background.

The main Brome line began with a bitch called Gayfields Bronze Cutie, who combined some of the most important of the Felcourt dogs from South Wales. Mrs Johnson mated her to Ch Red Pennon of Elsdyle to produce Nylon of Brome, and also to the influential Dragon son Auchen Rozavel Red Eagle to produce Red Ray of Brome.
In turn, Nylon was also mated to Red Eagle and a son from this mating, Brigadier of Brome, was put to Red Ray (doubling up on Red Eagle), to come up with Felicity Ann of Brome. Mrs Johnson then acquired from Thelma Gray Rozavel Dust Up, a son of Ch Broom of Ballybentra and grandson of the much admired bitch Ch Rozavel Golden Corn. Katrina of Brome came from his mating to Felicity Ann.

Ch Knowland Clipper

It all came together when she mated Katrina to the great show dog and sire of the time, Ch Knowland Clipper, the dog whose dramatic silhouette helped set the breed on the path it has followed since. Zephyr was the result.

I think it's fair to say that he was the first Corgi with the smooth clean outline and overall balance that we look for today (though both his sire and Ch Lees Symphony must have come close). One aspect that stands out for me in his photos is his neatly bent but not exaggerated stifles with low hocks, certainly not something often seen in the breed before that time.

He enjoyed an amazing puppy career, taking his first RCC at seven months under Oliver Jones, following this up with three more RCCs at the next three shows under Arthur Bridge, Jessie Kite and Derek Rayne. Derek's judging at Blackpool was a real family affair with Clipper taking the DCC, his daughter Fitzdown Byworth Biddy topping the bitches with two more of his progeny, Zephyr and Jomaro Honey, winning the reserves.
At ten months Zephyr won his first CC under Eve Forsyth-Forrest, never afraid to find a new star, and at the next show his second CC came from W.B. Edwards.
After another RCC from Laurie Mortimer, his title came at the Midland club show under Leo Wilson. Although Mr Wilson says in his review that this came from the puppy class, the Stud Book doesn't bear this out and says the show was on October 9, three days after Zephyr's first birthday. (Have since found this isn't correct, see comment below).
He ended the year, still a young junior, with two more CCs from Flossie Foster and Jane Firbank.

Ch. Caswell Dusky Knight

Campaigned over the next two or three years, he exceeded his sire as CC record holder, taking 27 in all, which stood for over a decade until Ch Caswell Duskie Knight came along. He was BIS at the League in 1955 and won two CCs at Crufts, though on both occasions was beaten for BOB by the bitches, Ch Kaytop Maracas Mist (who went on to RBIS) and Ch Harkath Starlight.

Ch. Kaytop Maracas Mist

His big moment came at Ayr championship show in Scotland in 1955 when he became the second Pembroke, and first male, to take a BIS at this level, judge none other than Leo Wilson. Although the advertisements here talk about the early successes of his progeny, it has to be said that in the first generation his stud record didn't altogether match his show record. I think I read somewhere that his stud career was not a long one, and in those days the breed tended to be stronger in depth in the south of England. Some Southern breeders such as Thelma Gray, Anne Biddlecombe, Helen Sheldon and Bunny Thornycroft, did use him, as did a very young Paddy Date in the Midlands, but other big names such as Lees, Wey and Stormerbanks appeared not to do so, or if they did nothing of significance resulted.

He did sire two UK champion bitches, Point Duty, bred and owned by young Anne Lambert, and the extravagantly marked Teekay Danceway, the last UK champion for Miss Biddlecombe. None of his sons made much of a mark in the UK, but they were much more important overseas, especially Ch Maracas Gale Force of Cleden in the US and others elsewhere. It was in the second generation that Zephyr proved his worth back home. In East Anglia, Vi Palmer-Cummings used him on two bitches to produce Zuzie and Zenith of Braxentra who between them helped take her to the top. Zuzie whelped Vi's first two champions, Barney and Beretta, and Barney to Zenith gave a superstar in Ch Barngremlin of Braxentra, the next Pem after his grandsire to take BIS all breeds in the UK.

The up-and-coming Crowleythorn kennel of the Duckworths had a CC-winning Zephyr daughter, Snow Drift, and she became the dam of their great Ch Snow Man. Other daughters produced Am/Can Ch Maracas Monarch of Cleden and Ch Bowman Puesedown Passport, so those who did use Zephyr were well rewarded in the long term. And another daughter, Dawn of Brome, was the first Pembroke owned by a young Yorkshire breeder named Peggy Gamble - and her legacy we all know.

As for Mrs Johnson, obviously a dog like Zephyr was hard to match but she continued to breed for many years, producing a number of overseas champions. Much the most famous was Am Ch Red Envoy of Brome CD who was by Zephyr's younger brother Red Major of Brome out of a Zephyr daughter. He went to Elaine Swinney (later Erganbright) of the Larklain kennel and proved an amazing stud dog, siring 51 champions which put him at the head of the American 'all-time top stud dog' list for several decades.
In the early 1970s Mrs Johnson made something of a comeback with a lovely tricolour bitch, Brome's Black Opal, who was by Ch Lees Orpheus ex a bitch with many generations of Brome breeding back to Zephyr and his relatives. Handled for her owner by her sire's co-owner Peter Cawthera, she won her title along with a Crufts CC. But it is for Zephyr and Red Envoy that this kennel will forever be remembered in the record books.

Simon Parsons