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BBC Points West Archive on Demand

Pony trekking on the Quantocks
Pony trekking on the Quantocks

Saddle up and head for the Quantocks

In this 1964 report by John Earle, the mysterious Ann, who works at the non-descript Television Centre, is filmed taking to the Quantock Hills to try out the delights of a new 60s' pastime, that of pony trekking.

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Apart from being the home to Samuel Coleridge Taylor for many years and its links with Hinkley Point Power Station, the village of Nether Stowey in Somerset is probably only recognised for one other thing and that's leisure.

On 13 November 1964, reporter John Earle took a Points West camera crew off to find out why the supposedly new recreational pastime of pony trekking was proving to be so popular.

Horse drinking beer
Landlord of The George serves a customer

It's a beautifully atmospheric piece and, like so many black and white films, has a particular quality of its own, something that seems so difficult to achieve today despite our sophisticated digital cameras and editing systems.

The film is a gentle amble around the streets of Nether Stowey, which takes us up onto the moors and through the forests, around the lonely Triscombe Stone and to The George Hotel for a well-deserved pint or 10 (the latter for the Jock the pony).

It's also an historical record of changing times.

In 1964, the Reddings were the last of a dying breed of craftsman. 

This family of blacksmiths had been shoeing horses for centuries but even the old ways back then were under the onslaught of modernity and were under pressure to abandon traditional methods in favour of 'cold shoeing' and acetylene welding.

Blacksmith shoeing horse
Bob Redding - Nether Stowey blacksmith

Redolent of the charcoal burners featured in Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons, Bob Redding Senior, in his 80s (but looking as if he's 20 years younger), together with his son, Bob Redding Junior, make a formidable partnership.

In 1964, the Reddings were a universe away from such things as Quant, Beatles and missile crises, but they mark the point at which the past was fast catching up with the present as the decade continued swinging its way towards the 1970s.

More films from BBC Points West

  • Use the links on the right to other local Where I Live sites to see more archive film from Points West.

last updated: 08/11/05
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Ron Miller
Terrific. I can vaguely remember John Earle in a sixties childrens programme. Was it Animal Magic?

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