In memory of Christopher John Sydney Marler 22 February 1932 to 6 July 2019
Beef Shorthorn Cattle Society director 2004 to 2010
Shorthorn cattle, both dairy and beef were part of Christopher Marler’s life since an early age. He was brought up with his father’s Dairy Shorthorns - including the 1939 Royal champion, which had a marked influence on his career as a lifelong breeder of the traditional British beef breeds.
His home farm was requisitioned by Bletchley Park during the war; in1952 he moved to Weston Underwood, Buckinghamshire and reported settling in to a rundown 600-acre arable unit which he turned over to grassland. The Dairy Shorthorn herd was dispersed in 1957, after which he established a Blue Grey herd run with Aberdeen Angus bulls for quality meat production.
In the early sixties, Christopher purchased Berkshire based Basildon Beef Shorthorns - a top herd of show cattle. He had already attended the Perth Bull Sales to get to know the breed at close quarters. He recalled: “What an experience with close to 300 plus Beef Shorthorn cattle in one place. I got to know the top breeders over the years and those I particularly enjoyed visiting were Captain Macgillivray of Calrossie, Captain Dick DeQuincy of the Erimus herd and Robert Adam of Newhouse Angus and his famous Glamis Shorthorns.
“Each of these three men were giants in the breeding of Beef Shorthorn cattle and I regarded myself as very privileged to have known them. The export trade at that time was tremendous and Perth week was an international gathering from every cattle producing country in the world. Exciting times for sure.”
Christopher established his Wavendon Beef Shorthorn herd from the Calrossie dispersal in 1995 followed by two groups of heifers from Uppermill. He purchased his first stock bull at Perth in the early 1960’s - Woodhead Exchequer was a champion and winner of the South Africa Trophy, and went on to ‘give the herd a much-needed lift’. His ambition was to win the Brothers Colling Memorial Challenge Cup, then awarded to the Royal Show breed champion, a feat he achieved 50 years later with his stock bull, Chapelton Neptune, proving that dreams do come true.
He judged countless UK shows and sales, breed classes and interbreeds including the Burke Trophy in 1993 at the Royal Show and Beef Shorthorn won! Further afield he judged the Royal Melbourne, Royal Canberra, Royal Adelaide, Christchurch NZ, Ohia and Louisville USA. He was very keen on breed type - character, quality, cow families and definitely no black noses!
Christopher also became a top breeder and enthusiastic judge of Dun and Belted Galloways, however his colourful life extended to well beyond the bovine world. He bred race horses in early life - his stories extended to his 200 winners in 10 different countries. A lifelong passion for waterfowl led him to establish the Flamingo Gardens and Zoological Park at Weston Underwood in the early 1960s; an initiative that grew to stocking one of the largest collections in Britain - all six species of flamingo, all eight of pelican, along with owls and parrots, and a few bison as well as cattle. The initiative was deemed a non-profit-making exercise, one to finance his love of the natural world. The zoo included over 30 acres of lakes and ponds, where he led bands of children, entertaining them with a flow of information. In his last few months he still ferried grain to feed 30 newly purchased flamingos.
Christopher knew many greats in the both the cattle and waterfowl world. He had a unique personality, a 'proper ' gentleman of the old style - he made people at ease in his company, he was known worldwide. I met him at Perth and Stirling Bull Sales over many years and thoroughly enjoyed his company.