As far as we know this is the first book to be written about Joe Bowman, huntsman to the Ullswater Foxhounds, since W. G. Skelton wrote a biography in 1921.
Review by Sir John Scott, Bt. MFH
Anyone with a love of hunting will find “Bowman”, Ron Black’s fascinating book about Joe Bowman, the legendary Huntsman of the Ullswater Foxhounds, an essential edition to their library. The Ullswater was formed in 1793 from the amalgamation of the Matterdale and Patterdale Hunts and six years later, the then Master, Squire Hasell appointed Joe Bowman as Huntsman and apart from a short break in 1911, he carried the horn for the next forty years.
Illustrated with archive photographs, Ron Black has painstakingly sourced reports in chronological order from the wonderful days when hunting correspondents from the Westmoreland Gazette, Lancashire Evening Post and Yorkshire Daily Post regularly covered meets of Fell Hounds. There are reminiscences of Shepherds Meets, Hunt Balls, Hunting songs, bold foxes, famous hounds, brave terriers and descriptions of days hunting by the likes of “Bay” De Courcy Parry, William Thomas Palmer and W.C.Skelton, who wrote a biography of Bowman in 1921.
The Ullswater have a long association with the Lowther family and when Joe Bowman died in 1940 in his 90th year, the “Yellow” Earl paid him this fitting tribute: “ There is nobody for whom I have a greater respect than Joe Bowman, and the services he has rendered to the fox-hunting community and the Ullswater Hounds on the Lakeland hills are so well known that it is impossible for me to express any views regarding him that are not entirely shared and appreciated by those living in that country.”
Hunting is fundamental to the lives and cultural heritage of Cumbrian people and in “Bowman”, Ron Black has given us an immensely valuable insight to a period of Lakeland history, when the possibility of hunting becoming a political pawn was not just remote, it was unthinkable.
Sir John Scott, Bt. MFH
Review by James Barclay
To write a book on the Cumbrian Fells as a subject on its own is no mean feat, but to take on the challenge of pulling together the facts about the life of one of the area’s greatest characters, as well as describing in unique detail the places where he spent most of his life, is quite another. Ron Black is a Cumbrian through and through and is proud to be so. As a result there is no better person to have researched and written about Joe Bowman who during his lifetime was someone who became hugely respected by all who knew him, be they farmer, shepherd or anyone else for that matter who, at that time, lived in the wild expanse of the Lake District. There was no doubting whatsoever, Joe Bowman was a legend, and to read and take in so much about this remarkable man is indeed a privilege and thank you, Ron, for allowing me the opportunity to review this wonderful book for you.
James Barclay, MFH (rtd)