Twyford & District Fishing Club
The Early Days of Twyford & District Fishing Club

Taken from 2005 Newsletter

After the last newsletter, one of the members was prompted to write in order to dispel the impression that the Club is 100 years old. Bill Crane attached a copy of an article that he wrote for the Twyford & Ruscombe Local History Society in 1996. The following is a slightly edited version, which will show how much has changed - and that some things have not!

One of the founder members of the Twyford & District Fishing Club was Reg White, who once lived at Holly Cottage in Waltham Road. His son Alan kindly lent Bill Crane his father's papers which make interesting reading. They tell us that several local men, who had fished together for some years, decided to form a club and this was founded in 1932. The annual accounts at the end of the year show that a notice board was purchased for 2s 6d and a minute book for 6d. Members' subscriptions totalled £3 9s 0 1/2d, mainly due to the profits from a Christmas Draw of £3 2s 10d.
It seems clear that the club needed financial support. Regular whist drives and dances were held in the Assembly Rooms in The Grove, organised by Reg Cole, a founder member. Profits from cake draws and darts competitions also helped. The old minute books show that these events continued until well after the war. Membership cards from 1933/4 show the yearly subscription was 3s 0d and that there were then over 100 members. The club had to pay an annual rent of £20 0s 0d for private fishing rights to the Sonning Land Company.
Membership cards for the late 1930s show the President as being Lt Col H E Verey. There were 15 Vice presidents, many of whom lived in the Twyford area. The Hon Secretary was Reg White and the Treasurer Mr E W Pearce - then the landlord of the Waggon and Horses public house. This was the club's headquarters, where committee meetings were held in the band room. The AGMs were held in the Almshouses at Twyford. Ernie Pearce also provided the five-piece band 'The Twyford Quintet' for the club dances; some older residents can still remember these happy occasions. The Club's waters were located at Borough Marsh in Charvil, at the west side of the River Loddon from the A4 down to the River Thames, large areas of St Patrick's Stream and along the south bank of the Thames. A punt was available for the use of members on payment of 2s 6d a day and permission was sometimes given for the club to fish at Stanlake Park and at Bridge House.
Particulars of competition results for 1937/41 show that matches were held at two or three weekly intervals during the fishing season. They were divided between 'Pike Only' (in the winter months), 'Peg Down' (allocated areas) and 'Roving Matches' (anywhere in the club's waters) and cost each member one shilling to enter. The list of fish caught at each competition shows pike of up to 12lb, a barbel of 5lb 4oz and many roach, chub and perch of 3 or 4lb. On average the number of members attending these matches was ten, but from 1939 onwards the numbers dropped to around six, probably due to the onset of the war.
According to the match sheets, regular competition winners during the years 1937/41 included F Bond, A Sandall, R Sleet, E Seymour and E Soper, all of whom lived in Twyford. Other local men who regularly attended the matches were Hector White, Harold White, C Blake, E Rose, L Arnold, R Lewis, E Bennett, E Smith, A G Bradley, R Cole, Reg White, T Lake and A Hoare. As the club became more popular several men joined from the London and Surrey areas. In the late 1930s a Silver Challenge Cup was presented for the highest aggregate weight in the competitions and these matches were held on the first Sunday of each month.
Old club records show that Reg White was Secretary from 1932 until the 1941/42 season. His place was then taken by Mr G Miles who occupied the post for ten years. Mr Bert Seymour, another founder member, was Chairman for many years; his saddlery shop in the High Street was the centre for members to pay their subscriptions and to purchase live bait and fishing tackle.
The club continued to function throughout the war years and by 1946 membership had increased to over 300. Exchange visits with other angling clubs were arranged around this time and records show that from 1941 to 1945 several monetary awards for food parcels were made to the parents of members who were prisoners of war. There is reference to a Twyford and London (Evacuees) 'Boys Match' being held in August 1940 on Col Verey's land, with 46 entries and 170 fish caught. Some Twyford winners are shown as C Skevington, T Brasher, T Cox, B Cox, L Munday, W Dicker, G Farthing - with J R Whitlock catching the heaviest fish. From 1947, subscriptions were increased from 3s 0d to 5s 0d. At that time, the Borough Marsh area was often subject to severe flooding in the winter months, which disrupted weekend fishing outings. There is also reference to arrangements for a ladies fishing competition in 1947 and to c
One interesting story told to me by Reg Cole and Reg Sleet, who were both club members in the 1930s, was about Harry Soper, the local road sweeper. One or two days in advance of a weekend match, Harry would visit the waters to feed a certain site with live bait. Then on the match day, he would fish in this area which meant he had a good advantage towards a large catch. Harry was always having his leg pulled over this. Another story concerned Mr Pearce who, although he was the Treasurer, did not fish! Club members persuaded him to join them by the water one Sunday morning and provided him with rod and line. Reg White put a piece of chalk on his hook and he sat there all morning without a bite. That was the last time he went fishing.
The Fishing Club is now over seventy years old and is still going strong. The current permitted fishing waters at Borough Marsh are similar to those in the 1930s but, in addition, the water at Sandford Mill has been used since 1946.  It was due to the initiative of a few Twyford residents that the club was formed in 1932 and it has certainly grown substantially since then. Perhaps it is sad - or a sign of the times - that only two Twyford (or at least Charvil) men are now officers on the committee and club meetings are no longer held in the village. Nevertheless, the name has remained the same over all these years.