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Prittlewell & District Angling Society

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Graham Cook


Prittlewell and District Angling Society

Notes taken from Graham Cook’s excellent book “Prittlewell and District Angling Society – The First Fifty Years”

Graham very kindly donated a copy of his book to Angling Heritage and also granted us permission to take some bullet points from within to show how angling clubs develop over a period of time, both through the solid work of people and also to show how views have changed over time. This book highlights the legacy left to the future generations by some committed individuals and I am delighted that Graham was motivated to document this in such an excellent way before it gets lost in the mists of time. This is exactly the reason that Angling Heritage was formed, because it is staggering how quickly things get lost.

The club can trace its roots to a meeting held in the founder member’s house on the 2nd September 1957 where he had invited a group of like minded angler’s who generally met fishing the Priory, to discuss the possibility of forming a fishing club. Initially named the Priory Carp Catchers Club, this ultimately became the P&DAS. Membership was set for the 1957/58 season at 10/- (50p). The committee formed had the foresight to work with the local council who owned the water and took on responsibility for maintenance, bailiffing the water etc. and were then offered the chance for responsible members to fish all night.

In 1960/61 the club started a stocking programme purchasing 100 king carp and 100 tench for £12 from the Surrey Trout Farm. They were also given 200 carp and tench from the Essex River Board.

In 1958, the club gained access to Ballards Gore, After weed clearing in July, the water was stocked with 200 common carp, 150 mirror carp, 200 tench, 100 roach, 12 brown trout, 8 chub and 12 bream. At the end of the year it was further stocked with 100 king carp of 8” to 9” and 100 tench of 4” from Donald Leney’s famous Surrey Trout Farm.

In 1958/59 subscription was increased to 15/- and agreed to an increase of 5/- per year thereafter until it reached £3. Junior members were charged 5/- and membership was limited to 30 adults and 10 juniors.

In 1959/60 membership was increased to 40 adults and 12 juniors. A further 110 roach of between 1.25lb-2lb were introduced to Ballards Gore, taken from Waveney Lakes in Norfolk

In November 1960 membership was increased to 60 senior and 12 junior members.

Sadly in 1962, the club were given notice and lost the fishing at Ballards Gore which ultimately was turned into a golf course which remains to this day. Rochford Angling Club came to the rescue allowing the club to fish Rochford Reservoir until another water could be found.

In 1962, the club purchased the fishing rights for an Essex clay pit but it was not until 1963 that fish were transferred into it from Ballards Gore and Star Lane. The 1964/65 season produce some specimen fish, most notably a 2lb roach. In 1965 100 carp, tench and bream were ordered from Stambridge Trout Fisheries and 135 rudd were netted from a garden pond in Southchurch for the cost of a few goldfish for the owner. A further stocking of 150 bream, 25 mirror and common carp of 1.5lb to 2lb together with 133 small mirrors and 65 tench. In the AGM in 1966 it was reported that the fishing was good but fish care was discussed, handling the fish as little as possible and with wet hands as knowledge grew within the club.

In 1969 46 rudd were netted from Great Wakering and transferred to the clubs water and 200 roach up to 6” long.

In the 1971/72 season, specimens caught included 7lb 8oz bream, 3lb 2oz perch, 2lb 14oz crucian carp, 1lb 3oz roach, 1lb 12oz rudd, 4lb tench and 13lb 1oz carp.Perch especially were showing good weight gains.

In 1973 stocking took place of 2000 rudd with some fish weighing over 1lb and 200 roach in the 7”-10” range were ordered from Anglo Aquarium.

In 1972, the club was able to purchase the Essex calay pit and in 1974/75 notable fish caught were carp 15lb 12oz, tench 4lb 6oz, roach 1lb 8oz, perch 2lb 12oz, bream 4lb 10oz, rudd 1lb and crucian carp 3lb 4oz. In the following years, the weight of tench seemed to fall off, although roach seemed to be doing well. Many fish over a pound were caught, with the best two being 1lb 12oz.

In 1963, the company was granted access to the pool at Star Lane owned by the Milton Hall Brick Company which ha permitted Shelford Angling Club to fish the water. By forming an inclusive arrangement with Shelford AC, P&DAS gained control of the fishing and worked hard to improve the water transferring their fish stock into the water. The committee also looked into stocking, again from the Surrey Trout Farm for 200 carp, 200 tench and 200 bream, but this was suspended until the ERB had completed a netting operation to remove pike from the water.

In 1964 the club acquired fishing rights to a pool at Hadleigh Colony on Salvation Army land. This water was teeming with stunted rudd and crucian carp. As was normal at that time, they introduced more stock to cure the problem, importing 600 crucian carp from the local fire station, and donated some to Priory Park for their help in the formative years of the club.

Another pool at Wakering was being filled in an the fish that could be caught in time were transferred here too, as was rudd and tench from a sandpit at Barling.. In 1965 the Colony also received 133 mirror carp and 65 tench from the Surrey Trout farm, but with such an overstocked water, they never reached their full potential size. This may seem obvious now, but this was in the days before balanced stocking programmes were introduced, following on from the era of keeping every fish caught (catch and release had only recently become the norm) necessitating restocking.

By 1965 membership had increased to 73 adults and 11 juniors and in 1966/67 it had increased further to 131 adults and 13 juniors

In 1968 the ERB contacted the club with an offer of good sized fish if they could be collected from Aberton Reservoir, bream into double figures and roach to 1.5lb. These were spread around their waters. Eastwood Rise match pond had 58 bream and 108 roach, the second pond had 45 bream. Star Lane had 50 bream and 3 roach and 7 roach were put into Hadleigh,

In 1968, specimen fish caught include carp 15lb, crucian carp 2lb 8oz, bream 9lb 8oz, perch 2lb 4oz and tench 5lb.

In the same year it was agreed membership would be increased to 165 seniors to generate funds to purchase fishing at other waters should they become available.

In June 1970 the club lost access to Star Lane fishery, but the club invoked a clause that allowed them to remove the fish they had stocked and in the close season removed the following:- 150 roach and rudd to 1lb, 4 tench to 3lb 8oz, an 2 crucian carp both 2lb+ which were transferred to the clay pit.

In 1971 crucian carp from another pool on the land were netted and transferred to the Colony. In the 1971/72 season, the most notable fish caught there was a 12lb 8oz leather carp caught by John Rawle.

As interest increased in other waters, it was decided to transfer fish from the Colony, but by taking a few larger specimens caught on rod and line. In all 5 carp and 16 tench were transferred, the best being 16.5lb and 5lb respectively. In 1975, the club decided not to renew their agreement for the Hadleigh Colony, as most members preferred the other waters, and it was decided to focus the resources there.

In 1977 membership was increased to 200 to cover the cost of digging a new lake at Hullbridge which was filled with water in 1978.

In 1978, the club briefly leased a water at Woodham Ferrers to keep the pressure off other waters and despite stocking it with 200 fish, mainly roach with some small perch and a few carp to 5lb and a later stocking of 300 roach 6 carp and 3 tench. It was not widely used by members being off the beaten track and was given up after the initial seven year lease.

1979 the lake was stocked with 100 carp, 100 tench and 300 roach, and 100 crucian carp were moved from Eastwood Rise. However, there were also some illegal stocking shown by the capture of 19lb 4oz mirror carp in 1980 and some doubles too. Reproduction was good and to keep fish levels controlled 100 good perch were introduced. The fry were still abundant and some were sold to other clubs, and the perch exceeded 3lb by the early 1990’s. Several carp were taken for stocking elsewhere with 50 going to Priory Park and 150 going to stock a previously polluted lake in Canvey Island. This allowed 2000 roach, 100 barbel and a quantity of tench to be introduced. In 1996 a further 2000 crucian carp were introduced which grew well.

Few major changes have taken place since the 1980’s just ongoing improvement of the waters which flourish and mature. This shows how a few committed individuals with vision, working together can lay the foundations for a flourishing club.