W3C Badger & Butcher HOUNDS

Painting of Butcher by Bink
Painting of Butcher by the artist Binks


Borrans rescuer















Joe Wear and Butcher
Joe Wear and Butcher

The story of Badger and Butcher two terriers belonging to the Ullswater Foxhounds entombed for 15 days above Brotherswater has been carried for some while on this site and attracts a lot of interest. Using newspaper reports of the time and some family history, what follows is a more detailed account of what proved to be one of the longest “rescues” in Lakeland foxhunting history.

Rescue Attempts Near Kirkstone

Hope is now fading that two of the Ullswater pack’s crack terriers, entombed in rocky chasms on Dod End above the Kirkstone road for five days and nights, will be rescued. After four days work had resulted in some 500 tons of rock being excavated, the operations reached a stage on Wednesday night when no further work could be done without some sound from the terriers to indicate their whereabouts and “listening parties” made visits to the borran at various times yesterday (Thursday) without result. On Wednesday evening Bobby Porter, a Westmorland County Council road worker living at Glenridding, was lowered over 20 feet by rope into underground shafts to search for hairs on the rocks with the aid of a torch, but again without success.

The terriers, one-eyed Badger and brown Butcher, entered the borran at 7am on Sunday, after an emergency daybreak hunt by the Ullswater foxhounds following lamb worrying round Hartsop Hall. Four cubs were accounted for and the vixen led the terriers into the borran. Huntsman Joe Wear and Whip Tom Robinson aided by Mr. John Poole and other helpers heard the terriers on Sunday, but when they had not emerged by Monday morning work was started in earnest.

Last Heard on Monday

At 1 pm on Monday Butcher barked in response to shouts, but this was the last sound heard from the borran. Throughout Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday excavation proceeded until a cavity the size of a house living room had been made in the hillside to reveal horizontal and perpendicular chasms in all directions. This complicated the excavation work, which was frequently fraught with danger when large slabs of rock were undermined and had to be brought down and ejected with bar and hammer. In addition to the huntsmen and whip, valuable work was done by Messers. J. Poole, T. Hodgson, R. Porter, E. Flitters, J. Allen, J. Burrell, A. Routledge and A. Barker. Despite the continuance of lamb worrying in the district, huntsman and whip gave precedence to the rescue operations until Wednesday morning when the whip took hounds to Glencoyne Farm and they hunted a fox, which it is believed, was killed.

Huntsman Wear said yesterday (Thursday) that he had not given up hope that the terriers would be rescued. Under the dry conditions which exist in this borran he believes they could live for a week and with regard to the absence of sound from them, he recalled that a terrier belonging to dr. J. R. K. Thomson, rescued on Placefell during the war after seven days was not heard during the whole of that time. Entombed terriers apparently sleep in a form of stupor and some times feed on the fox.

Westmorland Gazette 1st May 1948

The next week’s Gazette carried the following piece:

Entombed Terriers
13th Day In Foxhole
Dynamite to Aid Rescue
Both Dogs Alive

Butcher and Badger, the two terriers of the Ullswater pack are still entombed in the well nigh impregnable rocky Borran on Hartsop Dod End, above Brotherswater, and today (Friday) is the 13th day of their imprisonment. On Tuesday Anthony Barker, wartime huntsman of the Ullswater pack crawled 10ft into an underground passage and by the rays of his torch saw Butcher licking water from the wall be hind an obstructing stone, but since then because of the too dangerous nature of this approach, a fresh excavation has been started and last night (Thursday) small blasting charges were used to hasten the operation. The removal of each huge slab from the place where it has lain for centuries is now a step nearer in what is becoming a race against time, for the period of imprisonment has now surpassed anything in local hunting history and the terriers must be nearing the limit of endurance.

Most unfortunate features of the whole op-eration has been the fact that from Monday week until last Sunday morning no sound was heard from the terriers, and work was held up for nearly three days until Messrs. E. Flitters and A. Wilkinson got answering barks to their shouts on Sunday. Twelve hours work was put in each day by Huntsman Joe Wear, Whip Tom Robinson, and Messers. E Flitters, A Barker, Archie, Jack and William Wilkinson, a Routledge, R Porter, J Poole and other willing helpers working in relays, and it was a great disappointment, after Anthony Barker had crawled to within three feet of the dogs that a fresh start had to be made on Tuesday night which meant another three or four days excavation.

On Wednesday, Whip Tom Robinson, working alone in the early morning, heard both terriers barking together simultaneously to establish for the first time that both were still alive. Huntsman Wear stated yesterday (Thursday) that they might reach the terriers before tomorrow (Saturday)

Westmorland Gazette 8th May 1948

Entombed Terriers

After more than a week, the two game little terriers Badger and Butcher hunting with the Ullswater Foxhounds were still imprisoned under ground somewhere amongst the rocks and screes of Dod End behind Brotherswater. They had followed a vixen in and had evidently got trapped. This is easily done. The fox can leap down into a rocky cavity from which he has no difficulty in climbing out, not so the terriers, who with all their achievements cannot climb like a fox.

Great credit is due to the local farmers, shepherds and supporters of the pack for their arduous, long and patient efforts to effect a release for, apart from the natural affection which exists between these fell head folk and their dogs, a good pack terrier is worth it’s weight in gold, especially at the present time when he is such a valuable asset in preserving the nations larder. A young lamb is worth considerable money and care nowadays, more particularly after the heavy toll last year’s Arctic weather exacted. A well-grown ewe is naturally worth even more. RED SCREES

Westmorland Gazette 8th May 1948

Cheers, Tears and a Hymn

It was at 2.30pm on Sunday afternoon, in the presence of more than 100 people, that four hours effort to remove the last slab of rock rewarded the patient work of Bob Porter and huntsman Joe Wear, aided by a band of willing helpers hauling on a rope. As the last obstructing stone was pulled out of the passage Butcher walked out behind it, blinking in the bright sunlight. The scene brought tears to the eyes of women among the crowd, caused an outburst of applause and one man led the singing of the hymn “Rescue the perishing”. After photographers had obtained pictures of Butcher in the arms of Joe Wear, the terrier was given a drink of milk from a dish carried up the mountainside by 13-year-old Dulcie Wear, niece of the huntsman in anticipation of the rescue.

The rescued terrier was clean of coat and, apart from weakness through loss of weight, apparently little the worse for the longest imprisonment in local hunting annals. He slept in the huntsman’s cottage at Grassthwaite Howe on Sunday night, and after a drink of milk on Monday morning trotted down to the kennels with the huntsman when he went to feed the hounds. He rejoined the terriers in the kennels on Tuesday.

A celebration sing-song was held at Brotherswater Hotel on Sunday night, when a tribute was paid to Mr and Mrs Alfred Flitters for their hospitality to the men who had worked for a fortnight to rescue the terriers and huntsman Wear expressed his thanks to the workers.

On Monday Whip Tom Robinson crawled into the borran and with some difficulty found and recovered the body of Badger, which he buried on the hillside nearby.

Fortnight’s Rescue Work

The story of the fortnight’s rescue work is one of great determination and voluntary effort on the part of the men of the district. After the first three days work Anthony Barker crawled some distance underground to reach the obstructing rock, but as this could not be moved by one man a fresh excavation had to be made which entailed another 10 days work. For each yard the men progressed into the hillside, many tons of “roof” had to be removed, but the almost daily barking of Butcher provided great encouragement in work which was continually fraught with danger as huge boulders and slabs were undermined. All these had to be brought down – dynamite was used on several occasions – and cleared away before the “tunnel” could be extended. Messages came from all parts of the country praising and encouraging the workers, and in addition to a cheque for £1 from a London businessman. Mrs Nash of St Mary’s Abbey Windermere promised £10 on Saturday if the terriers were rescued. Mrs Nash implemented her promise on Monday evening, when she made personal calls on many of the workers.

Tributes To Rescuers

Letters have continued to arrive at Brotherswater Hotel all this week and one package from a schoolmaster at Central High School, Whitworth Street, Manchester, enclosed a batch of letters of praise for the rescuers all signed by schoolboys. Another letter signed “Dog Lover” Gosforth stated “With the enclosed £1 note would you be so kind as to place a few flowers on the little grave of Badger. Perhaps the remaining few shillings will help to buy a drink for the brave men who risked so much in the rescue.”

Mrs June Wilkinson, daughter of the landlord of the Brotherswater hotel, has climbed the hill once more and placed a spray of flowers on the grave.

Another letter signed G.F.D and sent from Billings End, Blackburn, read “Will you put this £2 in the kitty for a round or two from an old man who has known the Lake District for 56 years. I have always been proud of it, but never more so than today. I only wish I could join you again with my old Grasmere friends”.

Great credit is due to all the rescuers. Those who were able - led by Huntsman Wear and Whip Tom Robinson - worked during the day, while many others climbed the hill each evening as soon as their normal day’s work was done. John Poole was one of the most enthusiastic. Bob Porter’s skill in rock work hastened progress and among many others who made this work a duty to their fellows in that memorable fortnight were Edward Flitters, Jack Burrell, John Allen, Leslie and Norman Wear, Anthony Barker, Jack Hewinson, Albert Routledge, the five Wilkinson brothers, Tom Hodgeson, Angus Macauley, and George Black, who walked over the tops from Ambleside on several occasions.

Westmorland Gazette 15th May 1948

The final word came from Red Screes ...

Unpaid Labour

Whilst certain types of workmen are upsetting the country with their eternal strikes on the smallest pretext, we have to record time and again the unremitting and unpaid hours of exacting labour and terrific strain on the part of dwellers on our innermost fells. The last fortnight was an object lesson of the team spirit and unrelaxing efforts put forth to rescue two terriers which went to earth in a stronghold after the brush of a four footed lamb killer. This was no isolated instance in the foxhunting history of the Lake Country, but it is a monument to the affection the dalesmen have for their dogs. Then again many weekends in the summer see rescue parties being formed to go to the aid of stricken mountain climbers who unconsciously or otherwise in their inexperience risk their necks and limbs in essaying climbs which should be left religiously alone. What a contrast this voluntary unpaid labour to the grasping after yet more pay.

Westmorland Gazette 15th May 1948

But this was not the end of the Ullswater Foxhounds association with the “Terrier Holes” as it became known as. The following two reports taken at random show it continued to be used by foxes.

When the Ullswater hunted from Douth-waite Head last Monday, they ran a fox to Wolf Crag, where another jumped up, and one section of the pack provided a hunt for Blencathra followers when they ran into Wanthwaite Crag and eventually holed him at Stanah Ghyll. When followers got to the place and bolted one fox to be overtaken by hounds, terriers failed to emerge and accounted for a second underground.

After the meet at Deepdale Hall on Thursday. Huntsman Joe Wear (back in action after influenza) took hounds to Low Wood above Brotherswater and soon had a fox going which went straight to Dove Crag. Instead of going to ground however, he swung round the head of Dovedale, went through the Stangs, over into Caiston and the reason he had scorned Dove Crag became obvious when he went into the much stronger place on Hartsop Dod End – known to Ullswater folk as “the terrier hole” since the 1948 entombment lasting 15 days – and had to be left for another day.

Westmorland Gazette 25th October 1957

Back at the kennels at the weekend, hounds met at Hartsop Hall on Saturday, in vile conditions of wind and rain, and brought a fox from Dove Crag through the Stangs and into the “terrier hole”, that bad borran on Dod End where the 15-day rescue epic took place in 1948. Eventually he was bolted and went back into Dovedale to cross for Ghyll Crag into Low Wood above Brotherswater, and he was caught as he crossed the fields as though for Dod End again.

Westmorland Gazette 24th January 1958

With thanks to Anne, Jean, Laurie and Tom

  WAFWebsite manager

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