Half A Sovereign - Benjamin Pond - Longshoreman

Go to content

Main menu:

Half A Sovereign

Published Articles

Anglers World, October 1963
By Benjamin Pond

Back about 1908 I was fishing late one night on the pier, Bournemouth ought to have been in bed really. Was on lower deck, aided by the lights from the main upper deck where Sir Dan Godfrey conducted the evening's Municipal Orchestra concert.
Must made a fairly good catch that night, had some pollack averaging 2 lb., when a gent comes down the iron stairway. It was the Borough coroner whom I knew, and he remarked : "you should be in bed by now!"
"What?" I said, when fish are on the feed?" I added: "Besides. it's cost me tuppence to get on here."
Feeling generous, on this unforgettable occasion, I thereupon presented him with a brace (pure purist talk) of pollack. Whereupon he gave me half a sovereign (it was 1908) saying, "Get yourself a season ticket for the pier in the morning."
Arriving at the pier entrance soon after 4 o'clock next morning I waited only four hours for the first official

Sure I was the first customer that day, went on and off the pier all day long, until they finally locked me out for the night and had twice oiled the turnstiles.
Sixty-six times I had passed through, both ways, that was how the term "clickety click" came into being, that became my title as the turnstiles continued to click.
What with dumping a 1 lb. lead,upon the copper dome of the bandstand during that delightful piece, Rubinstein's "Melody in F," that you have read about last month, also depositing split lugworrms on most of the seats, and wearing out those turnstiles and the nerves of those officials, I was not too poular at the time.

Since then I have of course found pastures new, from one delightful water meadow the SAME policeman got hold of me by the ear and dragged me out THREE times. I can now sail much faster before the wind! (Thank you P.C. Holmes, of Holdenhurst)
Yes and each night, after dark, I had to go all the way back to pick up those perch.

As I said, back along, you'll hear more about Mutt. Here's a bit now.
Him and me, we were about 14 at the time, had a brace of trout (more purist talk) in a bag under a coat, also Mutt had two ducklings, one in each of his coat pockets.
Proceeding up a narrow lane from the river, pushing our cycles, we met an officer of the law - not old Holmes this time. Just as we drew level the ducklings started squawking like mad.
All the man in blue said was: "Best put a drop or two of oil on they bikes."

Back to that pier, had they ever taken an inventory of it I should have been one of the fixtures.

l remember Old Moore, his name really was Moore, now alas, he is no more. Daily he would be seated on a huge basket, fishing, his extremely ruddy face and still ruddier nose made the visitors appear deathly white in comparison. If Old Moore was absent, he was in the Pier Hotel.
Now I can't vouch for this but it has been said that when the red light at the pier head failed one night, the pier master bribed Old Moore to take it's place.

Now, back along, I said that I should go to and fro 'tween sea and river in this monthly chat, so it's back to the Stour, at the back of the mill.
Before 1910 there was quite a deep pool at the Millstream under a great oak tree.


Evenings, when the grinding was done, and the stream slackened,thousands of roach and dace came from the main river below.
Thus it was that the locals used to angle, and land 60 to 80 fish in a matter of three hours, but, if an angler was after dace on the fly, they went elsewhere.
I came upon the pool one evening, a lad had just hooked a dace on a hawthorn fly, number 15 size hook. A pike of four pound took the dace, the lad playing it in the pool. A much bigger pike came on the scene and grabbed the lad's pike.
I had a key to the mill rear door so I went in and got the big scoop net, and by pure luck, lifted out three fish attached to a No. 15 hook and gut of 2lb. b.s.
The larger pike was 21 lb.

As we are still on this Dorset Stour I will tell you a strange tale, true in every detail.
'Twas many Years after the previous event, one Wednesday afternoon with a gale all day and continuous rain. I had been out all the morning with two rods (purist talk for anglers) and was about fed up, when at around 2 o'clock I had five more turn up. Meant I had to stay around, just in case.
A Mr. Basset, nice old chap, had an offer on a Blue Charm, at No. 2. Withy Pool. He returned to the pool later, and in casting the gusty wind took the fly to the opposite side. It landed on top of an exposed ridge of sandstone. To free it I had to go to the weir, cross, and then go some distance down river. I clambered on to the ridge, picked up the fly, threw it into the water and a salmon imnediately took it, hand fed if ever a fish was.
Mr. Basset was soon playing a fine salmon. I ran the half mile back in the gale, to be there at the kill. By the time I got round to his side the fish had taken him four hundred yards down river. I stood back. The four other anglers all stood in a row, each with his gaff, where could I get a look in, me the keeper? There came a chance. They all lunged out and missed. I pushed my gaff between Lord Lyton's legs and pulled the fish ashore, causing him to sit down in the river. Anyway, a 22lb. fish was on the bank. I was even wetter than his Lordship, as anybody and everybody else could see, so their hands went to their pockets.
It is such things as these that makes angling the finest pastime in the world.

Back to content | Back to main menu