Craftsmen and their trade

The history & development of fishing tackle part of the forum.
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Stour Otter
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Craftsmen and their trade

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Editorial from ANGLING - May 1963. Price: 2s 6d.

ANGLING takes you behind the scenes and introduces you to some of the craftsmen
who make fine British fishing tackle

Craftsmen all . . .
A VISIT to the workshops of any of our British tackle manufacturers is, however, a real eye-opener. The care with which the tackle is made by craftsmen who have an honest pride in their work, the exacting inspections and the constant testing, give one even greater confidence in the British rods, reels, lines, nets, hooks, etc., which in most cases are world leaders.
At ALLCOCKS, where they have been making fishing tackle for 160 years, they have been some outstanding foremen and managers. The award of the B.E.M. to Tom Boswell in Coronation Year recognised this fact as well as his outstanding services to the industry in the training of rod-building apprentices. Seldom though has skill in making tackle been so happily combined with skill in using it as in the case of Allcock's Rod Foreman, Vic East, a quiet, kindly man with a knowing eye and a manner in which calm confidence is nicely tempered with a pleasing modesty.
About 40 years ago Vic left school at 13 and started his apprenticeship in Allcock's Rod Department where grand-mother East and two great-uncles were already employed. These latter were famous Greenheart craftsmen who both worked past their 75th birthdays. At the age of 14, Vic East won his first fishing match, actually sharing first prize with a man 40 years his senior.
As the years rolled by Vic's statue grew in every sense of the word. During the 17 years which elapsed before his first supervisory appointment Vic learned, practised and thoroughly mastered every single job in rod making. Captained Allcock's Cricket and Tennis teams and fished in representative matches, including the National Championships.
In 1939, Vic, with many other skilled craftsmen from the trade, went to war industry, but within a week of V.J Day was back home making rods. During the next few years he moved around, broadened his experience, and made his name as a designer of fine match rods. On Tom Boswell's retirement Vic East rejoined Allcocks with the very responsible position of Whole Cane Foreman.
Vic has never been a great man for keeping records of his achievements but has just entered matches, fished with relaxed but murderous efficiency and taken his success rather for granted from good and bad swims alike. He can, however, trace over 150 wins to date in a match fishing career which still looks forward rather than back. This is equally true of Vic the craftsman, to whom we confidently look for many more outstanding contributions to the British fishing tackle trade.
At DAWSONS, Mr and Mrs. Dawson are the principles of the relatively small but justifiably famous Dawsons of Bromley Ltd., who make such fine rods as the Dal-Monti., Offshore and Elaine. This firm's pride in its work is reflected in the personal supervision of every stage of rod-making from the tonkin pole to the beautifully finished article.
Each rod-maker is responsible for his rods from the blanks up to the whipping stage. None is produced on the "conveyor belt" system, and the same care and attention is given to the hollow and solid glass as to the built cane rods. Dawson's rod-makers are all local men and keen anglers.
Bert Howes, who specialises in whole cane and spanish reed, and has been with Dawsons for 10 years, is a really enthusiastic "lone wolf" angler who spends enjoyable hours fishing the Kent sandpits. In the photograph Bert is shaping the cork handle for an Elaine Match Rod -- his favourite rod.
George Shaw, 10 years a rod-maker, and Dawson's split cane expert, laid out for us some of the "bits and pieces" he uses in making split cane rods. You would expect files, saws, glue, varnish, etc., but there were also a variety of milling machine cutters, brushes, a spring balance, magnifying glass, micrometer, calipers, pliers and many other items. Even some aspirin for "curing the head-aches"! George's hobbies are fly-fishing and reading Roman history.
Ron Ives, ten years with Dawson's, specialises in glass fibre rods but works equally well with split cane. He is also an artist and does all the drawings for the firm's catalogues and advertisements. River fishing and cycling are his hobbies.
Efgeeco Products are well known to most anglers for their wide range of good quality angling equipment and accessories.
This firm's specialisation in angling accessories grew out of John Goddard's idea in 1949 to market a combined seat and tackle carrier for the angler. This was a winner, and from then on the company developed rapidly.
The parent business, F. Goddard & Co. Ltd., has been carried on by fathers and sons since the founder, a Sandow gold medallist and keen yachtsman, started it in 1908. It is still a family business, and takes pride in supplying the needs of anglers throughout the country.
John Goddard and Fred J. Taylor, both well known to readers of ANGLING, are director and sales manager respectively. Tom Simmons, (see photo) is Works Manager and has served the firm for 42 years. He goes fishing every week-end and has been Secretary of the Ongar and District Angling Club for 14 years.
These three enthusiastic anglers have, between them, an unusually wide knowledge of practically all aspects of fishing. It is clear from the excellence of their products that they apply their joint experience to the design of angling equipment with the best possible effect.
Lester Cooke, now in charge of all rod making processes at Milwards Fishing Tackle Ltd., started with the firm as an apprentice on Armistice Day, 1918. He received a thorough training in all branches of rod making, ferrule making, reel fitting, turning -- graduating via bottom rods to greenheart salmon rods. From 1947 to 1962 he was foreman of the split cane shop.
His wife, whom he met at work, was also with Milwards from 1921 to 1947.
Lester has always been a keen angler, and has been a member of the Works Angling Club for many years. He fishes the club water on the Alne and the Avon and is particularly fond of the Seven at Tewkesbury. He likes match fishing and competes in most of the club contests. Unlike most fishermen, he makes no claim to any big fish -- his best pike 9lb., his best bream 4lb., his best trout 1.5lb. He did, however, once land a 16lb conger.
Lester is also a talented musician, playing both trumpet and violin, and is equally happy playing jazz or classical music. Apart from fishing and music his other hobbies are gardening and motoring.
Accles & Pollock Limited are pioneers in the manufacture and manipulation of precision steel tubes. But they are better known to anglers for their tapered tubular steel fishing rods. From small beginnings in the 1890s this company has developed into an organisation which now employs over 5,000 people. As early as 1925 one of their workmen Harry Timmins, produced and fished with an experimental steel rod -- an 8ft. three-jointed rod made from 0.014 in. thick tube, the lightest then available. The real problem was, however, to get the taper in the top joint down to one-sixteenth inch diameter, which meant reducing the wall thickness of the tube to about eight-thousandths of an inch without loss of strength!
It took many more years of hard work and patient research to produce in quantity the world's first rod of seamless steel tube, a 7ft 6in. thread-line which, when tried out, amazed anglers by the length of its cast.
Production of rods of this kind had to stop during the second World War, but the company now produces over 30 different types, ranging from light casting rods to strong sea and game rods.
Accles & Pollock are proud of the lightness and strength of their rods. They tell the story of the angler who took his "Apollo" salmon rod to Ireland and filled time catching tope with it because the water was too low for salmon fishing. He landed an Irish record tope of 60 pounds!
Long service and skill have been traditions among the craftsmen of Hardy Brothers at Alnwick through three generations of the Hardy family. The fishing tackle side of the business was started in 1872 by William and John James, and Hardy men have been at the helm ever since. Their skill and experience in the manufacture and use of first-class fishing rods and reels have made this company a world leader among tackle makers.
Their famous "Palakona" split cane rods have won many awards at exhibitions and successes in the tournament casting sphere. Tournament casting tends to serve the same purpose for anglers as motor racing does for motorists. Both sports test equipment to limits for beyond what normal use would demand of it.
Mr. Armstong, a reel maker (see photo), has worked for Hardy Brothers for 37 years. He goes fishing only occasionally but knows more about how a good reel should function than many of the keen anglers how use his reels to such good effect. His uncle, Mr J. H. Smith, now a net and gaff maker, has served the firm for 55 years. Hardy's toolmaker and maintenance engineer, Mr Goodfellow, has 42 years service. He fishes for trout and salmon, claims no records or specimens but says he is "an honest angler"!
Many other craftsmen in Britain's tackle-making firms, great and small have contributed their skills, knowledge, practical experience and hard work over the years to make British fishing tackle the best in the world.
ANGLING salutes them -- craftsmen all.
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The good angler is not the one with expensive equipment. Common sense, observation and trying to realize
what is happening above and below water will catch fish no matter what price equipment you fish with.
L.A. Parker - This Fishing 1948

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Liphook
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Re: Craftsmen and their trade

Post by Liphook »

Very good read, thank you for that SO :Thumb:

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Cat
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Re: Craftsmen and their trade

Post by Cat »

Excellent read.

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Harry H
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Re: Craftsmen and their trade

Post by Harry H »

Great stuff :Hat:
There are three things that improve with age: wine, friendship and water sense, and there's no short cut.
Anthony Shepherdson

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