This comes from " A Leigh Schoolboy's Diary, 1938".
Strange as it may seem, the first field event of 1939 of the proclaimed conservationists was a visit, as helpers, to the shoot at Legh Estates at Newton -le-Willows on January 7th It was the only way then of getting into the fine woodlands even if only during winter. Several hours activity in crisp, frosty weather could be an invigorating experience with the chance of seeing long-tailed tits, woodcock, tree creepers, jays, barn owls and little owls. A disadvantage was that the expertly trained labradors of Frank Horrocks and Tom Durkin were by far the best retrievers so that we were assigned the task of picking up the 'runners' after the others had gone back to the lodge at nightfall. Thus we were the last in for the remnants of the hot pot and for the flat residues of the beer barrel but the slab cake and cheese were always superb.
Initially, I was puzzled by an apparent paradox in that the 'keepers always invited the known local poachers to join the beaters It was very sensible when you think about it. The bag invariably contained some very well-fed feral cats and it was fairly typical on January 7th, 48 pheasants, 20 mallard from Dean Dam, 6 wood pigeons, 1 common snipe, 5 hares and 2 rabbits. The rabbits given in lieu of payment to the beaters were snared. In 1939 other shoots were attended on January 21st, October 7th, November 18th and December 26th. Thereafter organised shoots ceased for the duration of the war but I sometimes called to see Geoff Barrow, the head 'keeper, when in the district. I liked him although, regrettably, he had shot a very fine osprey over Dean Dam in 1895 and kept the mounted specimen in a case in his front room. He would insist on showing this to a newcomer if only to point out its considerable 'talents'