Scarborough angler reels back the years with donation

THE pride and joy of a keen Scarborough shore angler has been restored to its original condition and is now on display at the town's new maritime heritage base.

The 9ft lancewood fishing rod, from the 1930s, has been carefully restored to its former glory, with its original fittings, by Brian Dove, of Pinewood Drive.

Mr Dove, 68, has been a dedicated angler since the age of eight when he and his pals would sit on the lighthouse pier "par fishing" for coalfish, known locally as billet.

The rod belonged to sea angler Arthur Watson and was made around the late 1930s. Mr Watson, of Garfield Road, died in December 1977 and the rod and reel were given to Mr Dove by Mr Watson's daughter Jean McLeod, whose husband Ian went to Central School and the ELO (Earl of Londesborough's Own) Scouts with Mr Dove.

Mr Dove said: "I had the rod in my loft and when I saw that the Maritime Heritage was opening a temporary home in Eastborough I thought it would be ideal for it to go there, for everyone to be able to see it."

The Scarborough Maritime Heritage premises were opened by mayor Bill Chatt last weekend, and are open in the winter on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 11am and 4pm. There is a wide collection of artefacts from the town's seagoing history, from photos and maps to model boats and fishermen's ganseys (jerseys).

Committee member David Normandale, an ex-trawlerman who knows Mr Dove from their days at Graham sea training school, said: "The donation of the rod is absolutely fantastic. More and more people are showing an interest in what we have here and hopefully we can find a permanent home and open longer."

The rod is made from lancewood, a tropical timber, and has brass fittings and black linen thread whippings (which hold the rod rings on). The reel is a 7in "Scarborough" type made of Brazilian mahogany.

The rod was assembled by Pritchards fishing tackle shop and rod maker in Eastborough, the rod fittings were made locally and the brass roller type rod rings were assembled by local angler Ken Wigg, now in his 90s, who had a small engineering works in Gladstone Lane.

Mr Dove said: "Basically the whippings were in poor condition so I rewhipped it, cleaned and revarnished it and replaced the nylon line with an original Irish flax line given to me by Ken Wigg. It was amazing to be able to get that sort of line after all this time.

"I'm delighted that the rod can be seen in the Maritime Heritage, it is a piece of Scarborough history. They were standard rods for that era but a lot were thrown away when fibreglass came in in the 1950s and reels were modernised.

“The tackle is also part of Scarborough because it was made by Pritchards, who were known for their fine quality rods; they built tunny rods for some of the famous tunny fishermen who came here.

“I’d like to thank Ken Wigg for the fishing line and some of the historical information, and also Duncan Watson, who supplied photos and a price list for Pritchards.”

Mrs McLeod, of Burniston Gardens, Burniston, said: “My dad would be delighted to see the rod and tackle restored and on show for all to see.

“It’s nice to see it in pristine condition, it brings back a lot of memories. I used to help my dad make the lead sinkers, I would knock them out out of the mould.”

This type of fishing tackle was commonly used in the North East of England and Yorkshire for angling along the rough rocky shoreline, with cod, billet and flatfish usually caught. It was in common use from the late 19th century to the late 1960s, although nylon superseded the flax line in the 1950s.

l Spotlight on some of the other contents of Scarborough Maritime Heritage, coming soon in your Evening News.