“The Trent and I go wandering by”

Robert George Hogarth


Contents


Chapter 7


Shooting and Motoring


It would not be right to describe myself as more than a moderate shot. In the shooting of game one can be so very variable, and while on some days there is a feeling that you are really good shot, on others you find yourself equally bad. I make a general moderate claim in the way of proficiency.


However, that did not prevent my enjoying some of the finest shooting to be had in the country, for which I am indebted to quite a number of friends whose hospitality I've so much enjoyed.


Amongst them – for it was principally on their land that I shot – I place the late Duke of Portland, at Welbeck, and the late Lord Savile at Rufford is providing me with the greatest enjoyment in this branch of my recreation.


It was after Lord Savile's death that in 1930 I became one of his Trustees and, as the other two Trustees lived at some distance, it fell to me to manage most of the local affairs at Rufford and on the Yorkshire estates. On the latter he had a very fine Grouse Moor at Walshaw, and I found it necessary to let both these shoots to a syndicate – of which more anon.


Charlie Crompton, Lord Charles Bentick, Stanley Bourne, Lord Belper and Sir Harold Bowden also of their generosity provided me with most excellent shooting, while there were many others who kindly gave me a day or two here and there.


These were wonderful days, and I shall not forget in a hurry the excellent sport which we got at Welbeck and Rufford, chiefly of pheasants and partridges – but that was not all, for the shooting was arranged to give every comfort to the guns, that is to say one's comfort was so well looked after, with two sets of beaters to ensure getting the best out of the day – not to mention the marvellous luncheons provided in a specially erected luncheon tent – all of which added to one's pleasure.


Apart from the enjoyment which this all afforded to me I must record that, as far as I know, I did not shoot any human being – though I got pretty near to it on more than one occasion, and even tickled up one or two of the dogs. On the contrary it was I who got shot up, for someone once hit me rather badly in the leg, and this meant that I was quite a while laid up. But such things are all in one's lifetime's shooting experience, and I am glad that nothing worse befell me or my hosts – or their employees!


In the matter of the size of bag, I suppose that the most wonderful day shooting that I experienced was when I had some Grouse shooting at Gunner Side and Keld in Yorkshire, with C. R. Crompton and his brothers-in-law, Edgar and Stanley Dennis. We got over 900 brace, from six guns, in one day. But what a day it was – far too much strain, and I remember returning with a splitting headache, so intense had been the effort.


Lord Savile's moor in Yorkshire was not a big one, but it was wonderful for its size. In one occasion, after Lord Savile's death, I had let the shooting to a syndicate, and we took a toll of over 3000 brace from it. I formed one of the syndicate and used to complete the general management, that is to say, I arranged all the catering, fixed up with the staff and kept the accounts, the members of the syndicate having nothing to do but to shoot and to meet their share of obligation. As the Trustee, and as the working Member I got free membership of the syndicate, which was only natural to expect.


Years before I had also been in a syndicate, in Nottinghamshire, where we had various shoots, including those at Bestwood, Kingston, Bingham, Oxton and Gopsall – the guns being the same nearly all the time. We comprised, the late Bailey Foreman, Dr Michie, Major P. Birkin, H. D. Snook and myself, and we got some splendid sport and much enjoyment from it all.


Possibly Bingham gave us the greatest sport, for partridges, with Oxton as its second, Kingston and Bestwood being better for pheasants.


But what I most treasure from these memories is the great companionship which the shooting – just as in other forms of sport – provided to us all. Further, how good it all was for one's health! You come back from shooting refreshed in mind and body (except on the rare occasions when the bag had been far too heavy!), And there was a feeling that, now that's over I feel fit and ready for work again. At least I always did, for I believe that all outdoor sports keep you fresh, give you added interests and thereby intensify your interests in your daily round and common task – the routine work, love life.


I can't close these few remarks about shooting without reference to two things which make for much of the enjoyment – one was my splendid spaniel, Jane, a grand game dog, perfectly trained and the best retriever I've ever seen. She was given to me by Lady Savile.


The other is my friend Geddes who has been with me for nearly 30 years as my chauffeur. He has driven me for many thousands of miles in all weathers, day and night, with never an mishap of any kind.


He is a wonderful all-round man. Can do anything, first class with guns and dogs, and a fine fisherman and shot. I hope he has enjoyed his field sports as much as I have in having him always with me. I certainly owe him much.


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It is a close thing between Dr Ashwell, Dr Owen Taylor and myself as who can claim to have been the first doctor in Nottingham to have possessed a car. I lay claim to first place by a short head, and being a keen pioneer I took to competition work with my car, motor racing and especially hill climbing, for which the early 1900’s provided quite a craze. Most counties boasted an automobile club or a hill climbing club, and I became one of the enthusiasts.


For a year or two I went in for this quite extensively using a Clement-Talbot which I had from the makers in London. It was of 12 hp and wonderfully efficient.


The hill climbing competitions, as, I believe, today, took into consideration the size of engine and the weight of the car – the sort of standard formula being set for the matter of handicapping.


One season I did remarkably well and ran off with nearly every challenge cup in the Midlands, all of them either at hill climbs or speed trials. The successes were due to the fitting of a little (then novel) device, which I had personally attached to the car – working roughly as follows:


You will have noted that an induction pipe takes your petrol mixture into the cylinder, and in this I tapped a hole between the butterfly valve (throttle) and the engine fitting a quarter inch copper pipe, with a stopcock on it and leading to the dashboard. When we got the car going we then switched on or opened up our device – and, mind you, this was a distinct novelty in those days – with the result that additional power was obtained and we excelled our fellow competitors who knew nothing of the device.


This all led me to think that if I could manage to win these midland competitions, I might go a step higher, and so I contemplated entry for the Shelsay Walsh Hill Climb.


This, as you will know, is an open competition, open to the trade, that is to say, and one which even in those days took a bit of winning. To see if they would aid my success by makers advice I wrote to the Clement Talbot people and told them that I was making an entry with my own car. They replied to the effect that they were making three special cars for the event, and that an entry with an ordinary Clement Talbot would seem rather superfluous, as their cars would be specially entered, been driven by their professional drivers. Good as these Clement Talbot's may have been, none of them had my own little device upon it, with a result that I drove the whole way up to Shelsay Walsh from Nottingham, competed and beat on timing all three special cars built for this occasion by the firm! The firm were, shall we say, mystified and mortified, but they learnt of my gadget and from that time fitted it to all their cars. I took some delight in beating the special Clement Talbot's, but in the actual Shelsley Hill Climb I came across something hotter still, and did not get first place.


But the effort had very pleasant repercussions, for the Clement Talbot Company stood me a dinner in London, where I was presented with the most beautiful 25 hp Clement Talbot for nothing, except that I had to hand in my own car, now rather battered by its two years hard running. But the Clement Talbot 25 was not a patch on my old-un, and I did little beyond winning a few local challenge cups with it.


Since that date I have used, for my professional work, something like twenty different makes of cars – for my work took me out often and far afield, so I looked for the most reliable.


Without too much distinction let me say that of all (and I have had three of them) I liked my Rolls-Royces the best, for I always could confidently rely upon having a smooth journey, and never had the slightest fear of being let down, all stranded upon some country lane due to engine or other trouble.


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I have consecutively touched upon many interests from Football to Fowling, I might almost say, but I have made no mention of the enjoyment which also failed to me from such participation in Tennis, in Bowls and in Golf. They merely serve here to stress my pleasure in having had so many and so wide outside interests, and to reiterate that I have derived considerable physical benefit from each and every one.


CHAPTER EIGHT

The Trent and I go wandering by