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Happy hunting memories

Time to look at a vanished world ...

vintage hunting photographs

The black and white album is from 1951 and shows the Devon & Somerset Stag Hounds laying on the pack on Porlock Common, the Culmstock meeting on the Yarty and the East Devon in kennel. The colour album is in the 1980s and shows a spring day with the West Somerset at St Audries on the Quantocks, the Tiverton Staghounds and the West Somerset puppy show at the kennels at Carhampton.

A rare chance to view an archive of hunting photographs should prove nostalgic for followers of West Country packs. The late Eric Green, who was a regular contributor to the West Somerset Free Press and manager of the forestry estate at Combe Sydenham, was a familiar figure with all the staghound, foxhound, harrier, beagle and minkhound packs in Somerset and Devon, often finding the odd hour to nip away from his work to follow hounds—he was always mysteriously in the right place at the right time.

Except for the years he served in the Second World War, from 1937, when he was a schoolboy, to his death in 1996, he kept an assiduous record through photos and diaries of what is now a fast-diminishing world. The archives, which record 60 years of rural West Somerset life and the changing landscape, were bequeathed to the editor of Hounds magazine, but have been on loan in west Somerset for their use in various books.

For an hour or two of nostalgia, come and browse the unique albums put together by Eric. They reflect his personal archives of photos and reports illustrating hunting, hounds, shows and other social events over 60 years spent following packs such as the West Somerset Hunt, Quantock Staghounds, DSSH, Cotley Harriers, Culmstock Minkhounds and the Stoke Hill Beagles to mention a few.

They can be viewed in an exhibition at the EWN Community Hall, Monksilver, Somerset TA4 4JE on Sunday, February 10. Doors open at 9.30am. There will be a modest entrance charge and raffle in aid of the West Somerset Hunt, plus light refreshments.

Eric was always optimistic about hunting’s survival – and the weather, in fact, no matter how gloomy the morning. Perhaps it is fortunate that he never saw the Hunting Act come into force.