This is not strictly zoology or natural history, but I've been researching the origins of the curly-coated retriever. Unlike other British retrievers, its history is very hard to trace.
It turns out that the main kennel for the curly in the early part of the twentieth century was called 'Tiverton', which is said to be in the 'West of England.' I discovered that there is a town in Devon called Tiverton. The owner of the kennel was Mr. Samuel Darbey. Do you know anything about him?
The original dog from which the retrievers descend is the St. John's water dog from Newfoundland. They were first brought over by cod fishermen from Poole (Dorset), where they eventually founded the other breeds of retriever in England and Scotland.
One theory goes that the curly is the ancestral dog from which the St. John's water dog descends (at least in part) and that the black dogs were brought to Newfoundland by cod fishermen from Devon and Dorset. I would like to know if any records exist of black water dogs or water spaniels from Devon or Dorset, because the currently accepted theory of the curly's origins is that it is the result of crossing the St. John's water dog with some strain of the now extinct English water spaniel.
I hate to bother you with a stupid dog question, but because you are based in the area, I thought I might seek your expertise.
I've written a post on the curlies here: http://retrieverman.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/some-curlies-from-early-last-century/
And here's where I got the story about Mr. Darbey: http://chestofbooks.com/animals/dogs/Dog-Shows/Mr-Samuel-Darbey.html
If you or your readers know can answer some of these questions or at least point me in the right direction, I'd greatly appreciate it.