Film ID:
NEFA 8859



Visitor Tabs


This Tyne Tees Television edition of the ITV series About Britain was first broadcast regionally on 1 May 1973. The documentary follows the Braes of Derwent Hunt along the borders of County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland where R. S. Surtees, the creator of Jorrocks, once rode. It was acclaimed by some as the finest film on foxhunting ever made at the time.  Includes arguments for and against this traditional blood sport.

Credit: TTTV logo Tyne Tees Colour

Title: About Britain [over footage of a hunt across moorland]

Title: Jorrocks Country

Hunt riders of the Braes of Derwent Hunt ride the western reaches of Northumberland and County Durham. In the distance a fox races across a ploughed field, exposed. One of the hunters calls out to the hunt. The fox races for cover and heads towards Healey Mill and Burnthouse (the commentary states). Some of the riders cross the gorse with the hounds.

David Appleby, joint master and huntsman to the Braes of Derwent Hunt, records details of the day’s hunt in a diary. “He campaigns against the fox from the hunt kennels at Shotley Bridge in County Durham.”

Tony Lister, the ‘whipper-in’ checks the caged hunt dogs at the kennels in Shotley Bridge, pulling out a dog called Lauren.  Some of the dogs drink from buckets in the courtyard of the kennels and the stables house nine horses used in the hunt. The groom George Richardson feeds the horses. The pack of dogs are let out of the cages and led down the country lanes by Lister and colleague, walking them out for exercise and entertainment (for the pack of hounds). He feeds the dogs treats when they stop on a hillside. Willy Lowes joins him to discuss the next day’s route for the hunt. The pack of dogs are taken back to the kennels.

George Richardson saddles up one of the horses. He takes her for a practise jump session and cross country ride.

David Appleby phones to discuss the meet route to notify farms, gatekeepers etc. It will start at Burnhopeside Hall, ride back up Lanchester Road, over the bridge towards Malton colliery, then on to Cornsay Colliery, the Hedley Hill way, falling back around High Hedley Hope Farm.

Panoramic shot of fox hunting country in that region. Nineteenth century illustrations follow of the heyday of the sport. An etching of Robert Smith Surtees who ‘amused and offended’ the hunting world with his satires. Pictures of his invented character ‘Jorrocks’ follow, a ‘Cockney grocer with a passion for the chase’. A second portrait shows Surtees. Exterior and interior shots of his home at Hamsterley Hall at Hamsterley, Rowlands Gill, County Durham, the overgrown kennels in the grounds.

General view across country fields of Consett steelworks, belching out smoke, and the houses surrounding the works.

Colour sketch and photograph of Lewis Priestman, master of the Braes of Derwent Hunt for half a century until his death in 1945. Interview with Douglas Nicholson, once Chairman of Vaux Breweries, about riding with him on the hunt, which he thinks was probably the best run hunt in the country.

Tony Lister drives off in his Landrover to pick up a dead sheep, which he’ll use to feed the hounds. He hefts it up into the back of the Landrover.

George Richardson holds a horse as its hooves are shod. The hounds are examined by a vet. Hounds jump up at the bars of their kennels. David Appleby holds a horse as it is checked by the vet. The hounds look expectantly as the meat carcase from the dead sheep is shifted by wheelbarrow into the kennels. The hounds tuck into the raw meat.

Interview with Tony Cowen seated in front of a painting of a hunt, former master, Braes of Derwent Hunt. He speaks over covert footage of fox cubs in the countryside. Cowen explains his ability to hunt these charming animals. He quotes ‘Jorrocks’.

Desmond Shelton, the earth stopper, makes his rounds on the hunt route. He stops up the lairs.

Title: End of Part One

Title: Part Two [over hunt riders and hounds down a country lane]

Well-turned out riders, some in red jackets, meet for the hunt at Burnhopeside Hall. Douglas Nicholson arrives with his wife in a horse-drawn carriage. Drinks are handed out to make it more of a social occasion. Interview with Sheila Vickers Hunt Secretary. The master blows the ceremonial horn for the start of the hunt. In voiceover members of the hunt say that the riders are from socially diverse backgrounds. The hounds and horses set off. The horses mostly stay behind the hounds. A fox is sighted and races to escape. The hounds and horses give chase across the countryside. The hounds leap a stone wall into a wood of firs on the trail of the fox. The hunt master in red jacket surveys the scene. The hunt riders look for the fox’s cover.

Willy Lowes joins Desmond Shelton to discuss the fox’s escape route. The riders and hounds move across country through old brickworks.

Interview with a young woman on the hunt. She explains why she enjoys the hunt. The horses jump a fence one by one. They continue across fields on the trail, the hunt master riding and walking through the River Derwent. The hounds are put into a cover near the river. Interview with a woman on horseback who describes the excitement she and the horse feel. Another interview with a man who’s a council road sweeper and says that anyone can do it, you don’t have to be rich. It's his hobby.

The horses and hounds cross the river. The commentary raises the issue of cruelty. Interview with Allan Henderson, Member, League Against Cruel Sports, who calls the sport ‘a hypocritical façade for the reality, which is that an animal is being hunted to death. I think it is wrong to kill anything for pleasure. It’s as simple as that.’

The hunt continues. Interviews with members of the hunt and again with Allan Henderson about the cruelty of the blood sport. Hounds follow the fox into a plantation of firs. A fox makes a run for it followed by the braying pack of hounds, then the riders. The dogs pick up the scent. The sound of the pack rings out across the wood and hillside.

The riders and hounds return to a farm at the end of the hunt. Night falls as the horses are unsaddled and led back into their trailers for the journey home.

Credit: script Michael McHugh

Credit: camera Dave Dixon

Credit: sound Bob Rhodes

Credit: film editor Bill Oxenham

Credit: executive producer Leslie Barrett

Credit: director Jeremy Lack ©Tyne Tees Television 1973

Credit: TTTV logo Tyne Tees Colour