I recently spent a very pleasant hour or so with Edward Addison and his daughter Joan. Edward is probably our oldest active member, he was born in 1916 and has been fishing the Rother on and off since the 1940’s!
However his interest in fishing obviously goes back at least another decade as the first thing he showed me was a copy of ‘The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton. This book was a school reading prize presented to Edward in 1932.
His edition of the book was published in the late 1920’s by The Bodley Head and contains illustrations by Edmund H New which both Edward and his daughter Joan enthused about; they particularly liked the pictures of Sea Trout (called Salmon Trout), Barbel and Carp.
I was drawn to a couplet immediately under the carp illustration;
Hops and Turkeys, Carps and Beer
Came into England all in one year
This is attributed to Sir Richard Baker and is from his ‘Chronicle of the Kings of England from the Time of the Romans’ Government unto the Death of King James’ which was written while he was in Fleet Prison and first published in 1643. The Compleat Angler was published 10 years later in 1653 so Walton would have taken the quote from a relatively contemporary book. The reason I noticed the quote is because it is written on one of the beams in my local pub. I did a little tracking down on this particular edition, you can buy a copy for around £20 via the internet or you can actually download it completely free from The Cornell University Library.
Moving from the 1930’s into the 1940’s Edward found himself stationed as an airman in West Sussex and this was when he first discovered the Rother and his particular favourite section at Shopham. We did not talk about his very early days on the river but I’m sure he would have some tales to tell.
Edward and Joan then produced some of their photographs that have been taken over the years, they are not sure of the dates of all the pictures but luckily some of them were annotated on the back.
Starting with what we think are the oldest set these are all black and white and were taken at Amberley on the River Arun and although we couldn’t fix a date from the clothing and what we can see of the tackle being used we think that these were taken in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s.
The chalk pits in the background in front of the two anglers under the tree above look very white which probably means that they were still being worked. The quarry which produced lime for building and agricultural use closed down in 1968. The last picture below in this series shows Bury hill in the background and Tim Nudds who knows this area well was able to confirm that the willow to the right is still in place.
We move to colour for the next series of pictures. These are definitely from the 1960’s and feature Edward’s brother Reginald and his nephew Geoffrey, Edward’s son.
These were taken at Shopham up and it looks as if they are in the same swim although the first two are obviously summer and the third is autumn / winter.
In the first picture we see Geoffrey assisting his uncle with the landing net, through a process of elimination we think that the fish is probably a dace and getting on towards the pound mark which is a good fish and worthy of a photograph. Geoffrey has also been able to throw some light on his uncle’s tackle; the rod is a three piece fibre glass which replaced his four piece Sowerbutts cane rod, the reel is an Abu closed or semi closed face. In the third picture Geoffrey shows a good sized perch to the camera and that looks very much like a Mitchell 300 reel attached to his rod.
We had quite a discussion about the location of the last of the Shopham pictures not being able to decide whether it was Shopham up or down but having got them home for scanning I found that it was marked on the back as being from below the bridge, the picture is titled ‘Ned spins’.
Finally we move on to Edward’s passion – Sea Trout and a set of pictures from the late 1980’s. In the first picture we see Edward surveying the river at Hardham which was his favourite stretch of the river for Sea Trout and along with many anglers he was very disappointed when we lost this section of the river.
Edward and Joan have found some of Reginald’s fishing diaries covering the period from 1957 through to 1975 which they are going to let me borrow and I’m sure they will provide plenty of material for at least one further article