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The Fox Hunt Comes to Barwick - Extraordinary Scenes

Barwicker No. 97
March 2010

A visitor to Barwick-in-Elmet on Tuesday 26th November 1912 may have been in for a nasty shock, the sight that greeted their eyes may have caused them to quickly twist on their heels and run at the fastest speed possible to leave. They may have been greeted by the sight of most of the villagers wielding shovels, spades, knives and pick-axes and noisily growling for the spilling of blood. The Bramham Moor Fox Hunt had strayed into the heart of the village!

That day's hunt had started at Becca Hall in Aberford. It had already caught and killed two foxes when two more were spotted at "Ryder's Whin" and from there they tried to make their escape. One made off towards Potterton and freedom. The other headed straight into the village of Barwick tearing through many farm-yards and then behind the Gascoigne Arms inn and straight down a hole on Hall Tower Hill. This animal had a short foreleg, the rest probably lost in a gamekeeper's trap, and only one eye, so was not as quick as its companion.

The hue and cry of the huntsman, the horses and the hounds had raised the alarm and many villagers swarmed out of the cottages and onto the mound. Seeing what was happening spades and pick-axes were produced and the two groups hacked away at the hillside to try and get at the cowering animal.

After thirty minutes the huntsmen gave up and left but Barwickers being made of sturdier stuff carried on. Eventually an 18 month old terrier was produced and sent down the hole.

With this biting and snapping behind and the villagers prodding and probing the hole the desperate fox decided to make a dash for liberty. It almost made it when the Blacksmith's son (assume this was one of the Collett family) made a grab for it as it left the hole.

The wretched animal was caught but it twisted round and furiously sank its teeth into the young lad's wrist and would not let go. Man after man tried to force its jaws open while the lad suffered in agony. Someone tried to strangle the fox but, to no avail, it would not let go.

After a while someone produced a pocket knife and thrust it into the foxes one good eye. Badly wounded it let go and was swiftly dispatched. Nothing further is known about the condition of the lad's wrist.

"It was a bit of reight good sport" commented one villager! This particular fox was considered one of the worst of thieves, 70 chickens had been killed in one night and many others over the previous two weeks.

So extensive had been the losses that the poultry keepers of the district had been bringing the dead fowls into the village in barrows and selling them for between 9d and 1s each. Source: The Skyrack Courier

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