Fishing for Information

A local resident has asked the Society if it can provide any information about a Cup that he has in his possession. The trophy is inscribed “Hoole Angling Society” and the list of its recipients dates from 1914 to 1938. No records can be found of the Angling Society and a scan of newspapers has revealed no information either.

One would expect that the Society would have had regular meetings, at least annually, to award the trophy and there must have been officials to organised fishing matches and collect subscription fees. One of Hoole’s pubs was their likely meeting place; old Hooligans remember that ‘The Ermine’, ‘The Bromfield’ and ‘The Faulkner’ had angling clubs in the period after the Second World War, but no link has been found to an “Hoole Angling Society”.

In the middle of the twentieth century, it was claimed that angling was the most popular participative sport, and a survey as recent as 2014 confirmed that this may still be the case. Findings were based on the number of fishing rod licences sold and an estimate based on the numbers caught fishing without one. Before the days of social media, lots of boys were taken fishing by their fathers or grandfathers for the first time (and perhaps the last time if nothing was caught), and local fishing spots included:

  • The Shropshire Union Canal.
  • The River Gowy at Mickle Trafford and Guilden Sutton.
  • The River Dee at The Meadows, Farndon and Sealand.
  • Flooded Brickworks’ Pits in Hoole Village, one on The Street near Hoole Bank, the other between the Royal Oak (now Toby Carvery) and Old Hoole Hall Farm.
  • Flooded Clay Pit at Cotton Edmunds.
  • Large ponds off Long Lane in the Plas Newton area.

One place where fishing was not allowed was Flookersbrook. Bye-laws approved in October 1876 under the Flookersbrook Improvement Act stated that it was an offence to “fish with net or rod or in any other way interfere with the fish or water fowl”.

Boys who caught the bug were often seen with fishing rods improvised from garden canes and jam jars full of worms dug from the garden. For those who could afford it, fishing tackle was sold at Henry Monk (Gunmaker) at 77 Foregate Street, still operating after 160 years in Queen Street. Martin’s was also another tackle shop in Lower Bridge Street where there were queues early on Saturday and Sunday mornings for the live maggots sold there. In the 1960’s, George Boddy sold fishing gear from his ‘fireplace’ shop at 143 Westminster Road. For a short time more recently, Hoole Angling Centre moved from premises on the corner of Lightfoot Street to a shop next to The Beehive on Hoole Road.

Advertisements reflecting the clientele of two fishing tackle shops

During 25 years of competition, 11 different names appeared on the shields of the Cup, two people actually winning it five times. 

The Society has been able to identify the first winner in 1914 as William Holyoak who lived at 22 Walker Street and is listed in the 1911 Census as a ‘Master Cyclemaker’. He had premises at 45 Lower Bridge Street where Directories also show him as a cycle agent and repairer. He died in 1945 aged 73, but his wife was still living in Walker Street in 1952.

Some of the other winners have well known Hoole family surnames and the society is hopeful that readers will be able to identify them, and perhaps through existing family connections learn more about them and Hoole Angling Society. It is a sobering thought that the Cup was first competed for in 1914 – the year of the outbreak of the First World War and the last award was made in 1938, the year before the Second World War began.

If you know anything about Hoole Angling Society and its members, recognise any of the names listed or know of any other information about fishing in Hoole and Newton, the Society would be pleased to hear from you.

[Article researched and written by Ralph Earlam and Linda Webb, February 2018, Hoole History & Heritage Society]