Tunstall Teeswaters are a small but dedicated breeding farm located in Captain Cook country, with one aim - to keep the Teeswater breed alive and to help remove them from category 3 (vulnerable) of the Rare Breeds Survival watch list. When the small flock was started a number of years ago, the breed was at category 2 (endangered) on the RBS list, so the shepherds like to think they have gone some way towards achieving their aim. Today Tunstall homebred lambs are located as far south as South Devon and as far north as Aberdeenshire.
The Teeswater breed is descended from longwool sheep brought over by the Romans during their invasion. Initially, they were used to crossbreed with the highland and hill sheep to create larger, fattier sheep suitable for lamb production on gentler, more fertile land. There are records of Teeswaters being exported to Tazmania in the early 1800's. They were also bred into Leicster Longwool flocks to improve the breed, and when Teeswater ewes were crossed with the Dishley Leicester Longwool named Bluecap, the offspring were the origins of the Wensleydale breed. With the rise of the Wensleydale sheep, Teeswater numbers began to decline, until by the 1920's the breed was nearly extinct. The Teeswater Sheep Breeding Association and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust have done great works in keeping the breed alive, supporting farms like Tunstall Teeswaters to make sure Britain does not lose this historic breed.