Southern Counties Canine Association
was one of the earliest canine association and shows under that name were held at Maidstone as early as 1870. In 1911 several societies amalgamated to hold the Association's first Championship show, which has been held each year since except during the two world wars.
Shows have been held at The Dome and Preston Park, Brighton, the cricket ground at Hove, at the South of England Agricultural Showground at Ardingley, and at the National Jumping Course, Hickstead.
When the Hickstead venue was required for a national jumping event on Southern Counties' show date in 1985 the Association decided to buy its own showground. Time was short but a 23-acre site was found at Ifield Wood near Crawley in Sussex. Roads were laid, cesspools were constructed and bridges built - all within the space of two months. For the first two years the show was held on what was, in effect, mown straw stubble but in 1986/7 land drains were laid and the whole area re-sown with a high quality parkland grass mix. The 1997 show was much better and by 1998 the layout was complete. The showground was generally recognised being the finest outdoor surface for showing dogs in Britain.
In 2002 the Committee felt that the Association had outgrown its showground at Prestwood Lane. Space was limited for caravans and if the weather was poor in the run up to the show the benching tents were very wet. There was also the narrow access along the lane that delayed exhibitors on the last mile to the showground. The Committee decided that a change was needed and applied to the Newbury Agricultural Society for the use of their Showground - all 146 acres of it! The first show on the new site was held in 2003. Exhibitors and trade stands felt that it was successful and a three-year rolling contract was agreed between the two Associations. The Showground at Prestwood Lane has not been sold and there are no plans to sell it.
Southern Counties has a long history of service to the exhibitor and its committee has always been composed of those who actually breed and show dogs. It is not a wealthy society but the mortgage that was taken out to buy the showground was repaid (three years early) in 1997 so the freehold now belongs to the Association.
The committee is anxious to ensure that it is providing what exhibitors want so suggestions and comment are always welcome. Contact a member of the Committee (a full list is always printed in the Schedule) or e-mail the secretary