"Voices from the past: 2"

Lyn Dent found, and Brian Dent transcribed, this extract from a 2003 audio recording made by North Huish and Avonwick History Society (Speaker unknown)

“There’s so many memories of the fishing….I fished the Avon for a long time, officially and unofficially. There were a couple of wardens, ex police sergeants, one was called Badge and the other was Bill Statton. When you go up the road from Avonwick to South Brent, on the left hand side there is a cottage there with a chap called Laskey and he was the gamekeeper at Black Hall….and I remember seeing red squirrels up behind in the beechwoods before they all got taken down…..and then Stabbs moved in.

The Avon used to be stocked with little 6 inch trout, I’m talking about 55 years ago…and sergeant Hawkins, he used to allow me to worm the river between Stabbs cottage and Avonwick station and I used to take out all the big cannibal trout before they stocked it…..I had the most fantastic 6 weeks. Any fish that were caught after this had a little tiny aluminium disc in the dorsal fin which was removed and sent back to the assessors(?)

There used to be an old chap, a great friend of Brigadier Vickers called Notley whose father was vicar of Diptford a long time ago. Notley was 93 or 94 when I was about 30ish and his father and Brigadier Vickers had a substantial wager on the river. One fished the river on the Diptford side, that was Notley’s water and the other side belonged to Brigadier Vickers father….they had this substantial wager on who would be the first to catch a thousand brown trout out of the Avon in a season.

It was one of the finest trout rivers in England and then they built the dam. Over the next four to five years, one day it would be beautifully clear and the next day, full of lime and cement. If you went down the river the day after this all the trout would be lying on the bottom dead. The sea trout came in, spawned first then the salmon and the redds got all mixed up (?)…..then the terrible UDN disease came in and from then on the river went really down….but today we have had a look and it looks really nice, nothing in it but I did see one or two trout jumping. It has brought back so many lovely memories”.

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