People from Kingsland

A new page for contributions about people from Kingsland who have achieved success. If you know of someone we will be pleased to accept contributions. The first about John James is from Gordon Roberts.

JOHN JAMES by Gordon Roberts

I have often thought how interesting it would be to have details on the website of people born and raised in Kingsland who have gone on to make their mark in the country or perhaps overseas, in one way or another.   Near the top of my list or perhaps at the very top would be John James of Shirlheath.   He was born at Shirlheath Farm in 1922 and although being an Englishman by birth, was very much of Welsh blood.   John’s father bought the farm by auction in December 1921 for the princely sum of £4,700 or approximately £180,000 in today’s money.   It had about one hundred and thirteen acres of mixed farming.   Mr. James senior was the son of Welsh speaking hill farmers in the Cwmdauddwr hills who moved on later to a farm near Rhayader.   When John’s parents married, they did what many Welsh hill farmers have done before and that is to buy a farm over the border in Herefordshire which would provide a reasonable all-round income rather than the uncertainty of and the hardships of hill farming.   John attended Lucton School until the age of sixteen, by which time he had already mastered many  aspects of farming.

John never forgot his Welsh background.   In fact it was encouraged by sending him during his school holidays to his grandparents, catching the Associated Motorways Black and White coach which ran from Cheltenham to Aberystwyth through Leominster.   It was there that he first became fascinated with the Border Collie and after a few years he acquired his first pup.   This dog grew up to be a natural at herding and driving cattle by road to Leominster market.   If we go forward a few years we will see how John became involved with sheep dog trials and by watching the experts, acquired great skills himself at sheep dog trialing.   This then opened up considerable opportunities for sheep dog training and then breeding at which he became one of the most successful breeders in the country and often obtained a record price for his dogs.   John was a member of the English Sheep Dog trials team ten times and was once captain after he had won the Championship in 1975 with his dog Mirk   He was English Driving Champion with Mirk the following year, and in 1986 Reserve English Champion with Ben.  For thirty years he was an English director of the International Sheep Dog Society.

John was a founder member of The Luctonians and a very quick and clever half-back.   The Club’s 1948 team photograph shows him at the centre of the front row, holding a rugby ball.   He and his wife Jean whom he married in 1953 were staunch members of the Kingsland Baptist Chapel.   John was a modest, kind and generous man whom I would have liked to have got to know better.   After retirement, he and Jean bought a small farm in Mid-Wales.

Perhaps this article will inspire others to send a profile to Kingsland Life of people they know who were born and raised in Kingsland and who have achieved the same degree of success.

Addendum: During research for pictures for this article the following film showing John at his farm and sheepdog  trialing, and an article including a conversation with John James were found. We hope you find them of interest

Film of John James at Shirlheath farm and Sheepdog trialing

A conversation with John James just click here