OAKLANDS STEADFAST (1911)
PHOTOS | SOCIAL MEDIA | REFERENCES
It is doubtful if a solitary Blue Persian male has made more of a singular impact on the show scene, than that which was made by Ch. Oaklands Steadfast when he appeared with sudden triumph in 1912/13. Like a veritable comet, his meteoric appearance and successes at once astonished and amazed his admirers and competitors, immediately raising the bar for Blue Persians and, in fact, for all Persian show cats at that time. By now, his owner Miss Gladys Cheetham, was a well-seasoned professional exhibitor, capable of presenting him at his absolute best, having already successfully shown a number of outstanding females in the preceeding years. In fact, many Blue Persian males of the period faced very stiff competition from the 'Oaklands' stable of Blue Persian queens, often having to settle for Best Opposite Sex of colour. But 'Steadfast' was in a class of his own, easily handled and of a sweet disposition, he was clearly well-boned, broad of skull, short of nose with a deep firm chin, compactly built, low in leg, of sound and even pale colour, and with a flowing coat that was carefully maintained and kept in tip-top condition. Consequently, his achievements in the show ring were nothing short of astounding, bringing yet more fame and recognition to his industrious mistress.
Steadfast was born on 31st July 1911, bred by Mrs Hall Atkinson, sired by her blue male named 'Dougal' and out of her blue female named 'Dot'. Neither of his parents were well-known, possibly because they were from a cattery where the breeder was not into competing at Shows. This, in itself, would not be at all surprising, given that showing any cat was fraught with risks, with the chance of either losing a good cat to an infection picked up at the show, or through the stress of unescorted travel, which seems to have been inordinately common practice.
However, this does not mean that his parents were not of sufficient quality in themselves and, in fact, if the result of this union was anything to go by, a study of the full pedigree would probably be very enlightening, if such was indeed possible. But we have very limited information on either of their backgrounds.
Regardless, the young Miss Cheetham was clearly either in contact with his breeder and, immediately recognising the potential of this promising young male, promptly secured him for breeding and showing.
Blenkinsopp Bleu, Blue Dougal, GCCF 348, Blue | Tit-Bits Oaklands Steadfast, Jul-31-1911, Blue M | Unknown Dot Unknown
No known full or half siblings are recorded.
As for his show career, we know that he featured strongly at several shows, but it was his astounding win at the hugely popular Westminster Show of 1913 for which he is most famous.
This was well covered by Fur and Feather, and from that, we have the following quotations:
"This important and popular fixture was held on Thursday and Friday of last week, Jan 16th & 17th, and was a great success. The hall of the Royal Horticultural Society at Westminster could not be improved upon for the purpose, the space, light, and ventilation being perfect, whilst the adjacent rooms and offices are admirably adapted for Club meeting etc….
"The total entry was 770, in 100 classes, as against 792 in 99 classes last year, but there was a greater number of Cats. In blues perhaps, the greatest falling-off was noticeable, as last year, it will be remembered, there was the remarkable entry of 233 in 17 classes, against 170 this year in one class less…..
"Quality throughout, however, was exceptionally good, as most of the best Cats of the day were on view. The judging for best Cat in show during the afternoon of the first day was followed with great interest, the award eventually going to Miss Cheetham's grand blue male, Oaklands Steadfast, which held a similar position at Birmingham. Mrs. Sedgewick's chinchilla queen, Thelma Lenora, was adjudged the best female. She is a beautiful exhibit, and was in grand coat and condition. This exhibit also secured Mr. Mason's Appreciation Bowl for Best Longhair bred by exhibitor2". (Ed Note: this would suggest that 'Steadfast' had not been bred by his owner).
In the published Judges commentaries that followed, we find:
Mr Mason's Classes: Longhair
"….Team: 1. Miss Cheetham, the winning Blues, Steadfast, Seabreeze and Sheila, three of the very best blues seen this year, in rare order:2"
Miss Simpson's Classes:
"LONGHAIRS: BLUE MALE, 14: 1,ch, ch. cup, and spls, best Cat in Show, Miss Cheetham, Oaklands Steadfast, beautiful eyes, A1 shape, rare head and bone, good coat, level colour, and in fine trim; 2,Mrs G.Wilson, Sir Archie of Arrandale, massive cat, strong in bone, with great wealth of coat, not as cobbily built as leader, and loses in eye and soundness of colour underneath, in perfect condition; 3, Miss Cheetham, Oaklands Silvio, nice head and bone, big frame, loses eye and coat, the latter being inclined to lay flat; r. Mrs Finch, Sir Reginald Samson, paler in eye and not as sound in colour, good coat, grand size and bone…..
What a totally amazing tribute to Miss Cheetham's beautiful cats, both males and females by an exceptional judge and authority on Blues and the founding Secretary of the Blue Persian Cat Society!
A little over a year later, in February 1914, an article appeared in The Queen - The Ladies Newspaper describing in detail, a visit to the Oaklands Cattery, and containing a very in depth description of most of the inhabitants. That record, is clearly the work of a professional in assessing the cats and the claims that are made in it, point somewhat definitively to the penmanship being that of Frances Simpson.
"I was invited to accompany Miss Gladys Cheetham on her morning feeding round. She carried a large deep can of steaming cooked meat, and with wooden spoon distributed it in clean earthenware dishes placed ready in each cattery. We came first to the large enclosure where Steadfast, the superb stud cat, lives, disporting himself. He was told 'to roll for the missus,'whereupon the big fluffy fellow threw himself down and turned over and over. Then having earned his meal he quickly set to work on the well-filled dish of meat. This grand male has been Miss Cheetham's property for a little over a year, and has won five championships. His eyes are so deep in colour as to be startling………7"
Sadly, as is often the case with a good show cat, success in the show ring does not always follow to success in the cattery. Although Miss Cheetham did indeed manage to breed from Steadfast, very few if any of his progeny survived to contribute to the Persian gene pool as she would have undoubtedly wished, and this may have been a contributing factor as to why we do not find any Oaklands cats on pedigrees other than her 'Oaklands Sapphire' (aka Sapphire of Castlethorpe).
But such was not the case for the lack of trying. From her breeding records, we note a number of queens were bred to Steadfast, with mixed results, some producing live kittens and some litters where all the kittens died. These are all carefully recorded and appear in the records for each of her queens listed on this site1.
Despite this, Steadfast's legacy was that he demonstrated that the bar could be raised even higher, even in the face of stiff competition from within his own cattery and against the best that the fancy could bring. His successes helped to cement the reputation of the Blue Persian as the true 'blue-blood' of the Persian family of cats, and the firm foundation and gene pool from which all other colours would draw their inspiration and developmental strategy.
But of the few successful births, we do have the names of some of his kittens recorded in the Cattery record of Oaklands. They are:
From 'Oaklands Sheila', Born 19th May, 1913, one male and two females1. Of these we find a commentary from Frances Simpson which reads:
No other live progeny have as yet been found recorded or mentioned elsewhere, and of what happened to these precious females, is unknown.
To Miss Cheetham alone, the accolade belongs, in achieving these multiple wins at a single Westminster Show. It is doubtful that any person since, has managed to duplicate these amazing results, in what was in fact an All-Breeds Show, where the Shorthair entry was one of the largest on record. This great story is now over 100 years old and thanks to her, is fortunately preserved in these memorable photographs.
Registers associated with this article include The Incorporated Cat Fanciers Association of Great Britain (TICFAGB), National Cat Club (NCC), The Cat Club (CCR), Beresford Cat Club (BCC), Feline Federation Francaise (FFF), Siamese Cat Registry (SCR), US Register & Studbook for Cats (USR)including Supplement(USRS), The Studbook of the American Cat Association (ACA), and the Studbook & Register of the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA).
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