Celebrating 150 years of the Wellingborough & District Nene Angling Club

One of the nation’s oldest fishing clubs recently delved into the archives as part of their 150th anniversary celebrations. The club are also taking the right steps to make sure they'll be around in another 150 years, which is where we kick off…

Match day from a time gone by Match day from a time gone by

Looking to the future

Looking back nostalgically at the glory years is always interesting but what matters more than ever is making sure we grow the sport so that someone will be in a position to report on its progress in another 150 years time. We've recently signed up as a partner club with Canal & River Trust to deliver Let’s Fish events

Thanks to the likes of stalwarts Bryan Dray, Pat Bryne and Ian Halliwell, we'll be increasing our activity even more in 2019. We've a fantastic canal coaching facility on the Grand Union Canal at Foxton to name but one location. Let’s hope some of junior members can repeat their success in this year’s national Junior Canal Championships too.

Let's Fish! coach Bryan Dray at Foxton Let's Fish! coach Bryan Dray at Foxton

Early angling clubs

During the early to mid 19th century there was an explosion in the formation of sporting clubs and associations, football, rugby, golf etc. and angling was no exception. This was probably due to an increase in leisure time coupled with a lesser obligation to attend church on a Sunday. Additionally, the introduction of factories during the Industrial Revolution and the general population move from rural to urban brought a coming together of people. If you want to know more about the very earliest angling clubs in Britain, there are loads of interesting snippets in our 'oldest angling club' article.

Earliest club records

Wellingborough District & Nene Angling Club logo

One of the earliest records of the club is a notice in the Northampton Mercury dated 19 December, 1868, when it was known as the Wellingborough and Higham Ferrers Angling Club. The secretary was named as Mr W Dulley, a member of the famed philanthropical brewing family of Wellingborough, all this before the advent of the bus and motor car so to access the river at Higham Ferrers you would need to travel by rail!

The fishing, it’s too expensive

The article called for members at the princely subscription fee of £1 (20 shillings) per annum. That’s the equivalent of £112 per year at today’s prices.

Six months earlier there was a letter to the said newspaper complaining of the cost of the annual fee, on the grounds that it would exclude large swathes of the working class. When you consider the average wage in 1868 of an agricultural labourer was just 12 shillings a week, you can perhaps sympathise with the indignation of the writer.

Turn of the century

Moving onto Saturday, 18 August, 1900 and by now the club is known as the Wellingborough Nene Angling Club, a match was held on the river between the Midland Railway Viaduct (14 arches) and Ditchford where and 33 fished. Mr W Goodman acted as weigher and referee. The presence of referees was a feature of matches back then, including in the oldest known official fishing match on the Weaver back in 1846.

Training it to your peg

The arrangements were made by Mr. Thomas Pendered (Secretary) whose family still have a close association with the club. One would assume that Mr Jones of Northampton caught the train from Northampton Bridge Street Station travelling on the LNWR line and alighted at Ditchford Holt.

Profitable year

A club AGM was held on Friday 12 January 1912 at The Hind Hotel in Wellingborough with Mr. J. Pendered (President) and Mr. R W Marriot (Honorary Secretary) presenting the accounts. They showed that the last year’s accounts balance of £4-13s-6d had been converted to a balance in hand of £8-2s-6d. Mr. Marriot was heartily thanked for his services.  Election of officers, President Mr. J Pendered, Vice Presidents H Hilton, Henry Archer, T Brown and Herbert Dulley. It is interesting to note that 107 years later we still have a member of the Pendered family as President of this Club – Martin Pendered.

Illegal fishing is nothing new

Comment was made at the AGM about the amount of illegal fishing during the daytime and it was decided to appoint an additional keeper for the daytime period and also to seek prosecution in all cases of illegal fishing. The annual competition dates and dinner were arranged for 12 September. Back then, the social side of fishing clubs was considered very important.

Word War looming

The most poignant match report found was from the Evening Telegraph dated 20 August 1939, two weeks to the day before the outbreak of the Second World War. This was fished at Harrold on the Great Ouse and was won by H Clay Smith 5lb 9oz, second place went to A MacDonald 2lbs, third place to Tom Sharpe 1lb3ozs with fourth spot going to W Miles with a level 1lb. I’m sure for a few of the lads taking part that day, fishing was not the only thing on their minds as everyone knew by then the outbreak of a global war was all but inevitable.

Post war period

After the cessation of the hostilities, the club went from strength to strength and on 10 March, 1957, the last match of the season, ‘Haydns Wee Two Cup’ was fished for at Ely on the Ouse, winners F Cutler and F Goodwin 32lb 1oz.

Individual results were: F Cutler 19-13-7, N Spring 15-0-0, B Fairey 12-12-8 and F Goodwin 12 3-10.

Also in that year the ‘Fur & Feather’ was fished for at Ditchford. First place F Alderman 4-2-0, 2nd place was a dead heat between F Perkins and M Dent 3-0-0 and forth place to A Stroud 2-14-8. Gale force winds seriously curtailed the weights of the December 10th match (no change there).

Ringstead Island

Moving a lever on the old time machine we come to 1993 and the acquisition of the deservedly named Brian Crowhurst Ringstead Island Fishery. Special mention must be made of Brian, for in the 150 year existence of the Club, Brian served as Chairman for 48 years and a total of 60 years as a committee member. Other stalwarts are George and Tony Barker (eel expert) whose hard work, support and generosity is widely recognised. We're sure that the 1869 founding fathers could never have envisaged the development, growth and success of the club, I think they would be very proud of what’s been achieved thus far.

Last date edited: 19 February 2019

About this blog

The fisheries & angling team

The team undertake a diverse range of work including looking after the Trust's £40 million worth of fish stocks, managing agreements with over 250 different angling clubs and helping more people, especially youngsters, take up angling on the canal. Follow this blog to keep updated with the thoughts and work of the team.

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