Primley Blues Part 1
Neattie and Niobe, all proudly bearing the Primley prefix. Whitley´s nephew, the late Wallace Whitley, commenting on his uncle´s ´toughening up´ treatment was able to point out the very granite boulder on the Dartmoor farm of Holwell where these budding champions were whelped.
Years later in 1926, when the developing Zoo was to occupy most of Herbert Whitley´s time, the kennels again made canine history when greyhounds Primley Sceptre and Primley Satyr between them won outright ´Our Dogs´ Best-In-Show trophy, trumping it next day by winning the ´Crufts Gold Cup´ for Best of all Breeds. A trophy that was to be the pride of Whitley´s fabulous under- ground strongroom.
On the sloping terraces facing what is now Zoo territory, passers-by in 1908 were bemused by the sudden appearance of buildings resembling, so the locals quipped, "The grandstands of Epsom Racecourse." This was to be the palatial home for the Whitley pigeons, especially his foundation stock of proud breasted Croppers brought from Liverpool. Built: to his own design by estate staff, the new best incorporated spacious flights, training pens and over forty sleeping compartments, complete with reservations for Homer pigeon ´midwives´ who could produce that strange phenomenon, unique to the dove family, ´pigeon milk,´ so necessary for the anticipated overflow of growing ´squabs´.
The first pigeon manager, Bill Pool, was appointed in 1909 and over the years the fancy breed section of some 150 varieties, judged the best in Europe, was deemed so attractive as to later become a feature of the Zoo. Sam Kerswell, cap over one eye and forever chewing a nine inch amber cigarette holder, managed the ´racers´, mainly to provide Herbert Whitley´s Saturday afternoon recreation, when he shared with the working lads of the village all the excitement of home and continental racing. Competitors paid into a 3d pool and the canny millionaire was as thrilled as the next man if his entry hit the jackpot.