The picture has a strange unworldly quality, in places looking more like a painting. We have a copy so I'm a bit unsure as to how the original might have appeared. The sky seems to have brush marks and there are rounded blobs next to the right hand figure almost as if something had been painted out. It could be water damage, I suppose.
The photo shows only a small group of people, posing on a hillside by a wooden fence. There are three well dressed men, two possibly accompanying family members, and one to the right (possibly the master of hounds). The one lady appears to be dressed in her Sunday best with a long skirt, jacket with tie, and a large hat. Four children complete the group, two of them carrying hoops.
If it is really Heddon, there are few clues as to location. It could be on the Common (before it was taken over by trees) or the Crag Field (now covered in houses of of the Bainbridge housing estate). The fence could be protecting a drop to the sandstone quarry on the north side.
Although officially founded in 1907, the first meet did not take until November 1908, because of the difficulty in finding suitable kennels.
The first kennels were at High Seat near Heddon, where the opening meet took place. Although the rank and beauty of Newcastle turned up for the event, in immaculate attire, the beagles failed to find any hares. Our photo was taken just 2 years later.
It wasn’t until the third meet, on November 14, that a hare was put up at Holeyn Hall, near Wylam, and “bowled over” after a chase of one and half hours, to the joy of a large field.
It could all have ended in 1914, when the original pack was lent to a Royal Engineers depot in Hampshire at the outbreak of the Great War.
By the cessation of hostilities, the Sappers had somehow lost all the hounds, and new master Captain Geordie Bell had to buy a complete new pack from Berwickshire.
The pack was re-established at Ponteland, but around 1921, the hounds were moved to fresh quarters at Heugh Hill, Stamfordham.
Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles (AMHB)