Home » Ormskirk Life Stories » Thomas Herbert Stretch – 28th Jan 1851 -25 Dec 1929

Thomas Herbert Stretch – 28th Jan 1851 -25 Dec 1929

Thomas Herbert Stretch – 28th Jan 1851 -25 Dec 1929

T.H. Stretch

T.H. Stretch

Thomas Herbert Stretch was born in January 1851 in Booth Kirkdale.  His father, Thomas Stretch Snr, was a cotton broker who had served an apprenticeship as a clerk before marrying and starting a family.

By 1865, Thomas Snr. had moved his family to Burscough Street in Ormskirk and lived at Vine Cottage, the very last property before the Burscough Boundary.

From the first years of the Family living in the town they were very much involved with the local community and from as early as 1865 Thomas Snr was a director of the annual show for the Ormskirk & Southport Agricultural Society. He was also a winner of several prizes for his poultry entries, including ducks, bantams and his very successful Cochin China Buff chickens.

Champion Collie "Ormskirk Emerald"

Champion Collie “Ormskirk Emerald”

Whilst Thomas Stretch carved a successful business career in the town and proved an expert poultry breeder and exhibitor, his sons became local sporting heroes and excelled at athletics and cricket.

In later years Thomas Herbert Stretch took over the poultry breeding and exhibiting and also entered the world of pedigree dog breeding, specialising in the Rough Collie breed, with which he found local, national and international success.

Ormskirk Christopher, the first collie ever to sell for over £1000

Ormskirk Christopher, the first collie ever to sell for over £1000

The Rough Collies bred from the Burscough Street kennels were of the highest standard for the breed and competed at Cruffs and at shows all around the UK. Thomas became the foremost collie dog expert in the World and his animals were supreme Champions.  The dogs were almost always given names with the prefix Ormskirk.

The first Collie dog in the World to sell for £1000.00 was Stretch’s Ormskirk Christopher, which was sold to an American kennel and for several decades his champion dogs were exported to breeders all over the World.

An advert for Spiller's Victoria Dog Food, featuring Ormskirk Foxall, one of Stretch's collies

An advert for Spiller’s Victoria Dog Food, featuring Ormskirk Foxall, one of Stretch’s collies

As a show judge he had an unrivalled expertise and commanded respect for his knowledge and understanding of the Collie breed. He travelled to Scotland and Ireland to judge at shows such as the Perthshire Canine Society, the Forfar Poultry Show, Belfast Dog, Poultry & Pig Society show and the County Antrim Agricultural Association Show. That is besides the dozens of English County Shows he attended, both as a judge in Poultry and Collie dogs and as an exhibitor.

Champion Collie "Ormskirk Amazement"

Champion Collie “Ormskirk Amazement”

One of his early successes as a breeder of Rough Collies was in April 1887 at the Warwickshire Dog Show, where his dog Sir Latham was awarded 3rd prize. In July of 1887 at the Chester Show, Sir Latham won first prize and a special silver cup award. In Belfast in 1891, his pair of Rough Collies, Ormskirk Paradox and Ormskirk Stella both won first place in the Dog and Bitch classes respectively, then in 1892, his Ormskirk Ormonde and Ormskirk Hilda took first prize in both their classes. In Dublin in 1893, Ormskirk Hermit and Ormskirk Memoir again won their class.

The Stretch family of Vine Cottage were a family with very close connections to many of the town’s noted families, for more information on the family please visit our group at https://www.facebook.com/Ormskirkbygonetimes


2 Comments

  1. Christine Ross says:

    An excerpt from my Eric Staniforth memories he dictated for me aged 80. (my father).
    Tom McDougall and I were very good friends and attended the same school. Tom was employed at Stretch’s Collie dog breeding establishment where I used to go. The person who ran the establishment was Miss Vera Stretch whose fiancee had been killed in the war, she never married. Vera Stretch was a very beautiful woman, with a beautiful stature. She would treat Tom and I as if we were her own children. At Halloween she invited us into the kitchen and hung sticky apples up for us to bite with our hands behind our back and duck for apples in a bowl of water. Miss Stretch allowed Tom and I access to a small area of the garden to grow lettuce and tomatoes or other plants of our choice. Of course the main consideration there were the dogs, they were beautiful collie dogs. Mr. Stretch who was the father of Vera, was an old man now, but in his day he had supplied the King and Queen with dogs. We used to exercise the dogs. I took charge of one called Bishop and Tom used to take one called Teddy. Teddy was a big brown and white dog and Bishop had a black and white face and a white chest. Tom and I would prepare these dogs for shows and took them to the shows two or three times. We washed, combed, dusted with powder the white areas and we would melt candle wax to weigh down the tips of the ears so they fell into a nice shape which attracted the judges. The Stretch’s had an orchard with apples and pears and a nice big cherry tree, in those days you did not see many cherry trees. So I spent many hours there in my young days.

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