During the early to mid 19th century (1800s), there was an explosion in the formation of sporting clubs and associations (football, rugby, golf etc), and angling was no exception.
This was probably due to an increase in leisure time with a lesser obligation on all to attend church on a Sunday. The introduction of factories during the industrial revolution brought a coming together of people.
One of the earliest records of our club is a notice in the ‘Northampton Mecury‘ newspaper dated 19th December, 1868 when it was known as the Wellingborough and Higham Ferrers Angling Club, calling for new members at the princely sum of £1 (20 shillings), per annum.
Six months earlier there was a letter to the said newspaper complaining of the cost of the annual fee. This complaint was on the grounds that it would exclude swathes of the working class.
When you consider the average wage in 1868 of an agricultural labourer was only 12 shillings a week, you can slightly sympathise a little more with the writer.
Moving on to Saturday 18th August 1900 and now known as the Wellingborough Nene Angling Club, a fishing match was held on the River Nene between the Midland Railway Viaduct (14 arches), and Ditchford. 33 anglers fished this match and Mr W. Goodman acted as a weigher and referee.
The capital arrangements were made by Mr Thomas Pendered (then club secretary), whose family still have a close association with the club today in Martin Pendered who is president of the club.
A club AGM was reportedly held on Friday 12th January 1912 at the Hind Hotel in Wellingborough. Overseeing this meeting were Mr J. Pendered (President) and Mr R.W. Marriot (Honorary Secretary).
Mr Marriot presented the clubs accounts to all in attendance which showed the last years accounts balance of £4-13s-6d had been converted to a balance in hand of £8-2s-6d.
Mr Marriot was heartily thanked for his services. Election of committee officers resulted in; President Mr J Pendered, Vice Presidents H Hilton, H Archer, T Brown and H Dulley.
Comment was made at this meeting on the amount of illegal fishing during the daytime and it was decided to appoint an additional keeper for daytime and to also prosecute in all cases of illegal fishing. The annual competition dates and club dinner were arranged for the 12 September 1912.
The most poignant match report we have found was from the Evening Telegraph dated 20th August 1939 – only two weeks to the day before the outbreak of the Second World War. This match was fished on the River Great Ouse at Harrold. The winner was H Clay Smith with a weight of 5lb 9oz, Second place was A MacDonald with 2lbs, Third was Tom Sharpe with 1lb 3oz and fourth place was W Miles with 1lb.
it goes without saying for a few of the lads taking part that day, fishing was not the only thing on their minds.
Post 1945, hostilities ceased and the club started to go from strength to strength. Several annual competitions were inaugurated with the ‘Fur & Feather’ match still fished to this day.
Moving on through our archives and we finally come to 1993 and the clubs purchase of the deservedly named ‘Brian Crowhurst Ringstead Island Fishery’.
It’s at this point that special mention must be made of Brian. In the 150 years of the clubs existence, Brian served as chairman for 48 years and 60 years as a committee member. Other stalwarts are Father and Son in George & Tony Barker whose hard work and generosity are widely recognised.
Having ownership of the Ringstead site has provided the foundations and anchor for the club to grow as it has right up until here in 2019. The foresight of Brian Crowhurst & generosity of the Barker family should never be underestimated as the club is very lucky to be able to operate a fishery on a not for profit basis with no lease overheads as many other clubs have.
We’re sure the 1869 founding fathers could never have envisaged the development growth and success of the club, I think if they knew of the clubs achievements in the past 150 years and that we would still have around 2000 annual members in 2019, they would & should be very proud of what they inaugurated.
On behalf of the W.D.N.A.C Committee