Gwen Broadley

6/20/06 --- 2/28/99
Sandylands Kennels

The Labrador Retriever world has lost its greatest Breeder-Judge of this century with the recent passing of Gwen Broadley. In her long career which spanned eight decades, 79 of her Gundog Group dogs earned the title of Champion or Show Champion and included 2 Cocker Spaniels, 2 Flat-coated Retrievers, 3 Pointers, 9 English Springer Spaniels and 63 Labrador Retrievers. In time, the Labradors took over her entire kennel.

With the sadness that the death of this great lady brings comes the pleasure of looking at the mark her Sandylands line left for almost every serious conformation Labrador breeder in the world. It would be most difficult to find a pedigree of any quality Labrador in any country to which the Sandylands Kennel did not make a positive contribution.

It takes great knowledge, a strong desire and a long life to earn worldwide respect in one's chosen field of endeavor. Mrs. Broadley not only earned that respect but, in addition, the affection of the thousands of people in the Labrador community at home and abroad.

To own a Sandylands Labrador was an honor. To have a relationship with Mrs. Broadley was a privilege. To have her affection was a joy.

God Bless You, Gwen Broadley. May you rest in peace through eternity with your wondrous dogs.

by LRCP member H. Price Jessup


This article was written by Mr. Richard Edwards and amended and approved by Mrs. Gwen Broadley.  It appeared in the premier issue of the ILD (International Labrador Digest) and is being reprinted in memoriam to her.

Mrs. Gwen Broadley owned and bred top class Labradors for over sixty-five years. Her Sandylands prefix is the most successful prefix in the history of the show Labrador. Within Great Britain, Sandylands has no equal, indeed it does not have a close rival. Many good dogs have been exported from Sandylands and dogs carrying the prefix have taken their championships throughout the main countries of the Labrador world, and they continue to do so.

The foundations were Juno of Sandylands and Ch. Jerry of Sandylands. Jerry was born in June of 1929. The 1930’s were an especially productive era for the Labrador in Britain. Countess Howe was at the height of her powers and her dogs dominated the show ring and the trials. It was not easy for a novice to break into the scene and Jerry took five years to complete his title. Pre-war, there were three Sandylands title holders, Jerry, June and Janice of Sandylands. Some of the early “J” breeding were exported to the United States of America. In the Complete Labrador Retriever, Helen Warwick recalls that Mrs. Mariel King of the Kingswere kennel brought in Jewel of Sandylands and her litter sister Jean of Sandylands – both were grand-daughters of Jerry in the middle of the 1930’s. Jean was the dam of Field Ch. The Spider of Kingswere, who was a wonderful producer for them.

Obvioulsly, with the coming of the second World War, all the main kennels cut down their activities drastically and many gave up completely. Mrs. Broadley did manage to keep a nucleus of stock going. In the very darkest days of the war, in the period when it looked likely that Britain would be invaded, it was very difficult to justify any sort of breeding. Eventually, the tide of war turned and it was clear that the Allies, led by the U.S. and Britain, would win, and breeding started up again on a limited scale.

From the very start of shows after the war, Mrs. Broadley was in a very strong position and was able to rapidly develop the Sandylands prefix into one of the most important in the country. At this time, Mrs. Broadley maintained a kennel of show gundogs. Writing his review of the kennel for the 1949 Our Dogs Annual, Mr. Frank Warner Hill of the famous Beauchief Springs wrote: “Arriving at the top ina any sphere is a long and arduous experience and once established, remaining there is doubly difficult. Thus we appreciate the continued high standing of Mrs. Gwen Broadley’s gundog kennel which houses seven champions, two of which been added this year. The champions are Ch. Landyke Patrick, Ch. June of Sandylands, Ch. Sandylands Blackberry, Ch. Sandylands Harley Superb and Ch. Sandylands Beau (Labradors), Ch Sandylands Shrubly (English Springer) and Ch. Harley Cherrybank Gentleman (Cocker). Four other C.C. winners are the Springers, Sandylands Sherry and Sandylands Shandy, the Cocker Harley of Sandylands Fancy and the Pointer, Harley Lady of Bonnyside.”

Mr. Topott of Nottingham owned the Harley prefix and some of the dogs were in partnership with him though none of the Labradors were jointly owned-they were Mrs. Broadley’s alone. It must be remembered that all of this was within a few years of the end of the war. The successful pattern was set and so it continues to the present day. In this immediate postwar period a number of dogs were exported to the U.S.A. In particular, the yellow male Ch. Landyke Patrick and the big winning black bitch Ch. Sandylands Harley Princess.

Gwen with Sandylands My Rainbow

Around the middle 1950’s, Mrs. Broadley went into partnership with Countess Howe (Banchory). An interesting arrangement was made whereby some of the dogs were in the joint ownership of the two ladies but both Countess Howe and Mrs. Broadley had some dogs in their own names. It was a short but highly successful partnership especially with the black dog Ch. British Justice, who was a big winner of the era. Before she was exported to the U.S.A., Ch. Sandylands Harley Princess had a litter to which included Ch. Sandylands Belle of Helenspring who had been sold but was bought back into Sandylands to replace her mother. Belle was to prove a brilliant brood. In three litters to Ch. British Justice, Belle produced Ch. Sandylands Justice, Ch. Sandylands Jilly and Sh. Ch. Sandylands Juno. In a later litter to Ch. Whatstandwell Coronet, Belle was the dam of the lovely black Ch. Sandylands Cora. It was around this time that Countess Howe was having the greatest difficulty getting around and she decided to give up the Labradors and the partnership with Mrs. Broadley was concluded. Mrs. Broadley was in a difficult position; she had no place to house the dogs. She went from having a brilliant kennel full of top winners, back to the Midlands with only a few Labradors, of which only Juno and her daughter, Sandylands Annabel were of breeding age.

Around this time Mrs. Broadley awarded Sam of Blaircourt his first C.C. and after the show, persuaded the Cairns (Blaircourt) to let her have him. Sam was made up very quickly. Mrs. Grace Lambert (Harrowby) then made a very good offer on Sam which Mrs. Broadley accepted. Sam had a fine career in America. In an attempt to replace him, Mrs. Broadley asked the Cairns for a dog puppy from a litter they were expecting. In due course, a black dog puppy arrived unseen in a box by rail from Scotland. He was to become the legendary Ch. Sandylands Tweed of Blaircourt. Now, clearly, Mrs. Broadley knew the quality of the Blaircourt bloodlines and knew that the puppy ought to be nice but no one, not even Mrs. Broadley, the greatest breeder of show Labradors of all time, could have any idea just what an impact this dog puppy was to have. Tweed is behind every single top quality show Labrador in Britain! Since the early 1970’s every single show Labrador champion in Britain goes back to Tweed, usually many times. If one were to extend the pedigrees of some top winners back, Tweed would appear time after time after time. The Brabbans’ lovely black bitch Sh. Ch Cambremer All That Jazz has over ninety lines back to Tweed if one were to extend the pedigree far enough. Of course, he is so far back in the pedigree that he is having no impact but it is an illustration of just how central the dog was to the Labrador in Britain. There are plenty of other pedigrees that would illustrate the degree to which Tweed’s blood infuses the show Labrador. Although it may not be to the same degree, most of the top winning show Labradors throughout the world have Tweed in their pedigrees.

Before he was exported, Sam of Blaircourt sired a litter that included Sandylands Shadow, who was mated to Tweed’s son, Sandylands Tan. This breeding produced a whole range of important show and breeding stock. For Mrs. Roslin-Williams (Mansergh), the mating produced Reanacre Sandylands Tarmac, who was so vital in developing her lines. For Mrs. Broadley, the mating produced a very beautiful yellow bitch in Sh. Ch. Sandylands Tanna who was later exported to Mr. J. Lewis II in the U.S.A. Tanna had a yellow brother in Ch. Sandylands Tandy, a great stud dog through the 1960’s and early 1970’s, and another of the breeding was the great black show bitch Ch. Sandylands Truth who won the C.C. at Crufts and was the dam of four British champions including Sandylands Mark and his litter brother Sh. Ch. Sandylands Midas, who was later exported to Mrs. Grace Lambert. Mark was to prove the greatest sire of champions of any breed within Great Britain and it is doubtful if his record will ever be broken save by artificial insemination – all Mark’s British champions were conceived naturally. Thus, within a decade of being in such a difficult position on the break-up of the partnership with Countess Howe, Mrs. Broadley had regrouped to such an extent that the Sandylands Kennel had reached new heights of success.

Looking back, the period through the middle 1960’s to the early 1980’s was an especially fruitful one for the show Labrador; show after show was graced by good sized and good quality entries and the Sandylands kennel was right at the very heart of this scene. The stud dogs Tandy and Mark and later Sandylands Charlie Boy, Sh. Ch. Sandylands Gary, Sh. Ch. Sandylands Blaze, Sh. Ch. Sandylands Stormalong and others were producing champion after champion for experienced breeders and novices alike. Mrs. Broadley herself bred and owned some absolutely top class animals. Perhaps the lovely Sh. Ch. Sandylands Mercy and Sh. Ch. Sandylands Busy Liz exemplified the finish and quality of the best of the Sandylands at this time. It was around this time that Mrs. Broadley went into partnership with Mr. Garner Anthony of the U.S.A.

More recently, the kennel had a lovely yellow bitch in Sh. Ch. Sandylands Bliss who was every bit as good as all the great champions that preceded her. The kennel also had a young stud dog in the masculine black Sh. Ch. Sandylands Gentry who showed every sign of being a top producer. There have been some good youngsters at Sandylands including some with C.C.’s and so more champions carrying the prefix are extremely likely. There is no question, that when she attended a show, everyone was pleased to see Mrs. Broadley and the even took on more importance for her company; it felt complete. Mrs. Broadley was a much sought-after judge. She judged all over the world, though possibly the highlight of her career was to judge Best In Show at Crufts in 1978. As a judge her quiet styple and her simple courtesy put many a novice exhibitor at ease. Like everything else she did, her judging was undertaken with this quiet but deliberate style.

Mrs. Gwen Broadley was in a unique position within the dog show world. There is no question she was and is the first lady of Labradors, and many people regard her as the most successful breeder of dogs in Britain. She was perfectly happy to reminisce about the past, particularly happy to recall a funny incident or a singularly happy day, but above all, she looked forward to the next good Sandylands dog, taking the greatest pleasure at bringing baby pups into the kitchen and stacking them up on the table to discuss their merits. She was happiest planning her breeding program and sorting out the matings to produce the next generation of Sandylands Labradors.

For many years, Mrs. Broadley contributed her vast fund of knowledge. She was extremely patient with all the many people who wished her to do committee work at The Kennel Club and she was a committee member of a number of breed clubs. A few years ago, I was at a committee meeting of the Labrador Retirever Club when Mrs. Broadley announced that she was stepping down as an officer of the Club only to find that, as one, the committee turned towards her and refused to accept anything of the sort and Mrs. Broadley remained Vice Chairman of the Club.

It was most interesting to see the respect in which Mrs. Broadley was held by those people who knew her for many years; their respect was genuine and without reservation. She inspired a loyalty from her many friends and was very loyal in return. Many newer people were in awe of her but it was quite unnecessary, for her kindness and encouragement of newcomers is legendary. It is only fair to say she did not suffer fools gladly and she was perfectly capable of telling someone off is she thought it necessary though never with malice and once done, it was over and forgotten. Her advice was sought and valued by many people who visited her. She was most generous with her time. Having said that, there is no question that Mrs. Broadley had a steely determination and toughness of spirit that allowed her to keep on breeding and showing Labradors.