51 songs interspersed with text and amusing anecdotes. Most of the songs in this book have been passed down from generation to generation, each an important part of Lakeland oral history. Hence there is no conventional spelling, punctuation or grammar for these written versions, many containing words of dialect.
Lakeland Hunting Songs Vol 2 Review by J. Mallett
All those years ago when Ron and I were at school together, never did I think I would be a huntsman for a fell pack for 29 seasons and Ron would be writing books on fell hunting in Lakeland? Once again Ron has written an excellent book about Lakeland hunting capturing songs and anecdotes. Without Ron's dedicated research into Lakeland hunting as it was in years gone by a lot of these stories and songs would be lost for ever. This book is very reasonable priced and makes wonderful and interesting reading. I can only speak highly of his book "Hunting songs volume two" and look forward to volume three.
Review by Neil Salisbury
, Hon Secretary, Central Committee of Fell Packs.
Ron Black is a Cumbrian whose ancestors can be traced back several hundred years and have been immersed in the local hunting culture for as long. Over the last few years he has been extremely prolific in producing a superb series of small books tracing the history of hunting in his native Cumbria. These books have been well researched, and whilst not especially grand tomes have been extremely popular by being succinct, extremely well focused on their individual topics, reasonably priced and have secured an important place in many a hunting bookcase.
Ron has recently followed up his successful book produced last year of Lakeland Hunting Songs with Hunting Songs Volume 2 – Lakeland Songs which gives us more of the same. It has always been a great tradition up here in the fells for supporters of the Fell Packs to pen vocal tributes to memorable hunts, famous huntsmen and even hounds from both past & present. Some years ago I myself compiled a History of the Coniston Foxhounds, based on contemporary hunting reports in the local and national press of the time and realised just how important a sing song has been to the Dalesmen of the Lakes for hundreds of years. I found many amazingly descriptive reports of hunt suppers, Merry Neets, Harvels of the past.
I personally remember standing up to sing a song at a Supper for the first time, many years ago, and still recall the nerves of performing amongst well-seasoned singers at the tender age of 12. Once the hunting community learned that someone could sing, then they were always in great demand and pressured to attend any supper where there was to be a sing song. My Dad was a good singer as well, and in those days, as there were Hunt Supper’s almost every week of the season around the Coniston Hunt country we were regularly expected to attend and perform together, thankfully Mum was usually the taxi driver! Dad was also a closet poet and used to compose his own hunting songs whilst sitting at the lathe in the local engineering works where he was employed.
Times have changed and the evenings which have been a regular part of fell hunting for centuries have greatly diminished and the numbers of hunters prepared to perform has also waned. As such, many of the traditional songs and ditties are in danger of being lost forever. As these are such a vital part of our heritage, this would be disastrous and for the sake of our history it is so important that as many of them as possible are saved for posterity.
The Melbreak Foxhounds produced a lovely little book back in the early 70’s, simply entitled Songs of the Fell Packs, and this rapidly became the bible for many a singer at hunting sing songs. In producing his two volumes of Hunting Songs, Ron has added greatly to the number of historical songs which will be preserved. Whilst some of them were already recorded in the Melbreak book, it is very refreshing to find many others which he has traced through a plethora of other published material. I know from my own experience, how time consuming this can be, spending day after day ploughing through the archives and it is to Ron’s great credit that he has persevered, not only with the Song books, but with his other works as well. Whilst the efforts can be very frustrating, it is always well worth it when you see the final result printed and on the Bookshop shelves.
One of the things I like with Volume 2, is the way that Ron has interspersed a number of lovely little hunting stories and anecdotes. Some are historical whilst others are the result of Ron’s own experiences and are written in such a way as any reader, especially those of us who have grown up with the fell packs, can recognise as fairly typical of our own experiences from our youth.
This is a super little book, well researched, nicely presented and very worthy of joining it’s stable mates on your hunting bookshelf.