A RECORD 41 years in charge of the Burton Hounds ends tomorrow, Thursday, when Jim Lang jumps out of the saddle to be replaced by his one-time apprentice Neil Burton.
Jim’s time with the Burton has set a historical record for any hunt in the country.
He has been involved with hunting for pretty much all of his 68 years, working in stables with his father in Cornwall after leaving school at 15 up to leaving home at 22 to spend two years each with the Quorn and the Meynell hunts.
He moved up to the Burton at Riseholme 42 years ago, as a whipper-in, becoming huntsman a year later, covering country that stretches from Market Rasen westwards to the Trent and down to Lincoln and being in charge of the nation’s oldest pack of hounds dating back to 1672.
“Most people chop and change and move about quite a bit, but I think that being a Cornishman I’m a bit of a stick in the mud and I stick around.
“The open country here is the best for watching the hounds work and that’s why I stayed; that and the warm support I’ve always enjoyed. I quite like the people here,” he said.
The warmth of that support was shown through a dinner at Market Rasen Racecourse last week attended by 250 people, the enormity of a generous retirement collection and many well wishes and parties including a lunch with his former masters at Badminton hosted by the Master of Foxhounds Association when he reached his 41st season.
He said it had been his privilege to work for the Lockwood family throughout that time. He was set on in 1965 by Arthur Lockwood and John Lockwood is a current master. Mr Arthur Lockwood said Jim was ‘an exceptional huntsman’ and his relationships with farmers, supporters and subscribers in the Burton country had been ‘outstanding’.
For many years John Green from Glentham was a joint master of the Burton and said Jim deserved the honour of having the longest continuous service of any huntsman.
Hunt servants traditionally start new appointments on May 1, and moving to the Burton is Mr Burton who whipped in for Jim 12 seasons ago before going off to the Glamorgan and returning in the to shadow him.
“It’s going to be heart-breaking to say goodbye to the hounds but as one door closes another opens and I’ll just be taking a back seat,” said Jim, who has recovered from bladder cancer and will be 69 in July. He plans to continue riding to keep fit.
Having ridden out years of political turmoil and then the hunting ban that outlaws a foxes death by hounds but allows riding to hounds to continue, Jim still sees a future for the sport - particularly with participation rising in response to government intervention.