History Articles - Fishy Business

For six years I wrote a short history article in the monthly parish magazine, The Pelican.  One of the articles is shown in the column opposite.

Articles can be accessed by clicking on the appropriate title from the index below.

If anyone has any old photographs or parish information which they would like recorded (for present and future generations to share) then please get in touch with me.

    John Davison (Website Co-ordinator)
           Telephone: 01670 760609
      Email: jdavison26@btinternet.com

63   Dec 2011 We'll Weather the Weather
62   Nov 2011 Alan's Ackl'n Appearances
61   Oct 2011 Ackl'n Marriages 1913-14
60   Sep 2011 Old Photographs Required
59   Jul 2011 A Tower With A Tale To Tell
58   Jun 2011 A Well Kept Secret
57   May 2011 Fishy Business
56   Apr 2011 Acklington Warrior Stone
55   Mar 2011 The Church of St John
54   Feb 2011 Deep and Chrisp
53   Dec 2010 For Whom The Bell Tolls
52   Nov 2010 Which Village?
51   Oct 2010 A Pilot's Memories
50   Sep 2010 Acklington Black Poplar
49   Jul 2010 Street Names
48   Jun 2010 RAF Memorial
47   May 2010 Crowning Glory
46   Apr 2010 Badminton Club
45   Mar 2010 Murder On The Train
44   Feb 2010 Guyzance Tragedy
43   Dec 2009 Acklington Park
42   Nov 2009 Dye House (Part 2)
41   Sep 2009 Dye House (Part 1)
40   Jul 2009 History Making Heads
39   Jun 2009 Acklington Main Street
38   May 2009 James Raymond Smith
37   Apr 2009 The Age of Steam Trains
36   Mar 2009 Fred Wilson
35   Feb 2009 Guyzance School
34   Dec 2008 Acklington W.I.
33   Nov 2008 Lych Gate
32   Oct 2008 Village Hall Disaster
31   Sep 2008 Summer Crowds
30   Jul 2008 Spot The Differences
29   Jun 2008 Sunday School
28   May 2008 National Finalist
27   Apr 2008 What's in A Name
26   Mar 2008 Railway Inn
25   Feb 2008 Osprey
24   Dec 2007 The Guyzance 10
23   Nov 2007 Bowls Club
22   Oct 2007 Village Harvest
21   Sep 2007 Wedding Bliss
20   Jun 2007 The Other Acklington Artist
19   May 2007 The La'Well Tree
18   Apr 2007 The German Spy
17   Mar 2007 The Winter of 47
16   Feb 2007 Les Birkett's Memories
15   Jan 2007 Railway Station
14   Dec 2006 Jane Chapman
13   Nov 2006 Witches
12   Oct 2006 Jack Taylor
11   Sep 2006 Black Ralph
10   Aug 2006 School Photographs
09   Jul 2006 Pig Killings
08   Jun 2006 Village Hall Disaster
07   May 2006 Cricketers
06   Apr 2006 On Yer Bike
05   Apr 2006 Cricket
04   Mar 2006 Mailbag Robbery
03   Feb 2006 Storm of 1886
02   Jan 2006 Football
01   Dec 2005 Help Required

A few weeks ago I was talking to a fisherman friend of mine who regards himself as a “true blue angler” and he was somewhat distraught about the state of fishing on the River Coquet. He claims that the reputation of the river, once referred to as one of the finest salmon and sea trout rivers in England, is in serious decline. He reckons the section of the river which meanders through our parish was once, in his words, a “highly productive beat” and he nostalgically beguiled me with some of his favourite fishing spots around Guyzance, Low Park and particularly “Sandy Hole” near High Park. He lovingly recounted the days of exhilarating sport when the spring salmon run had anglers chomping at the bit well before the season started. “Those days now seem a lifetime ago,” he mused.

Maybe some of his claims were fisherman’s tales but there is no doubt that since the first Coquet salmon of this season was caught back in February by Malcolm Allison of Newcastle (pictured below) there have been very few catches reported. Indeed some anglers are claiming the season is totally disastrous and are advocating very limited or no fishing at all on the river for a year or two in the hope that stocks increase. When I asked my friend what he thought was the cause of the dwindling numbers he claimed that the problem lay with commercial fishing near the estuary, “illegal netters” and a serious poaching problem.

               Malcolm Allison with the first Coquet Salmon of the 2011 Season.
                             The fish weighed eight and a half pounds.

It seems to me that salmon poachers have always been in and around our parish and probably always will be for as long as there are salmon in the Coquet. Below are a couple of stories from the archives when, in two separate incidents, Thomas Dixon and Joseph Jobling found themselves in a spot of trouble for having possession of unseasonable salmon. The accounts are taken from Volume 2 of The Fisherman’s Magazine and Review which was published in 1865.

On 18th November Thomas Dixon, who was in the employment of Brainshaugh farmer Mr Crossly, was summoned for having 41 unseasonable salmon in his possession. On the morning in question the police officer on duty by the riverside noticed a great deal of fish-spawn on the ground and traced evidence of the removal of salmon from the river to the defendant’s house. Immediately a search warrant was obtained and Inspector Harkis on examining the house found a quantity of salmon cut up into small pieces and salted. He picked 41 salmon tails out of the cask, thereby showing that the defendant had salted that number of salmon. The defendant said his sons, who had permission to fish in the river, had caught the salmon fairly. However, the magistrates did not believe Mr Dixon and fined him 1 shilling for each of the salmon (making a total of 41 shillings) or, in default, three months imprisonment.

Again, on 10th December 1864, an additional number of prosecutions for illegal fishing in the Coquet came before the sitting magistrates (at Alnwick Justice Rooms) R. W. Bosanquet and Thomas Clutterbuck, Esquires. Mr Wilkinson of Morpeth conducted the prosecution for the Coquet Fisheries Association. In opening the proceedings he said the first case he would call would be that against Joseph Jobling. On the 27th and 31st of October the defendant was snatching salmon at Acklington Dam. Several persons, most of whom were pitmen or factory men, would be brought before the bench for illegally catching salmon in the Coquet in the early part of October. On the 31st October the fish congregated in great numbers at the dam, and about 60 persons were there grappling for salmon. Their worships would find that nearly 100 fish had been killed that day. Although most of the offenders were in a humble position of life, he regretted to say that some of the defendants occupied a superior position, and what was worse their conduct had been anything but commendable on being checked by the police. On 27th October Mr Jobling was seen to hook a salmon by the side. Sergeant Redpath asked him if he considered catching a salmon with hooks with no baits, and flies without wings, was a fair way of fishing. He impertinently replied, “It was as well as anything else!” Mr Middlemass of Alnwick addressed the bench on behalf of the defendant, submitting that his client was completely ignorant of the illegality of such a mode of fishing. The magistrates were of the opinion, however, that Mr Jobling was not ignorant of the law and fined him 3 shillings for each offence.


                                               John Davison    Tel: 01670 760609