June 1960 saw the birth of the Society’s journal with the subsequent Autumn edition reporting on the stocking of Grayling in the Rib and members beginning to catch some around the pound mark. Eddie Bridgemont catching one just over 2lbs but members were reminded Grayling did not qualify in club competitions.
Also writing about the Rib after one season as a member Dennis Gander speculates in his article that a few Barbel from the Royalty Fishery on the Hampshire Avon would be a very welcome addition to the Rib. If only it were possible.
Members were also reminded of the hempseed ban on all Abbey Cross Fisheries, a ban which evidently was lifted at some later date.
With the acquisition of the Osier beds on the Stort at Sawbridgeworth and the Nazeing leases complete the Society entered the 60’s as one of the premier clubs in the Lea Valley.
At the 1961 A.G.M. the Society’s administration was changed to the present management committee structure which in itself has helped the Society to progress in the knowledge that important decision can be made quickly without constant referral to the membership at large. The success of this “executive” decision making process is underpinned by there being very few serious complaints or challenges to the way the Society’s affairs have been managed over the decades and the committee going to the membership when very important decisions need to made.
The management committee introduced the requirement that all prospective members to be interviewed. This came about following accusations that “undesirables” with the reputation for being poachers were being allowed to join the Society. One of these individuals regularly took his tame ferret on coach outings causing concerns about illicit activities.
Soon after the formal interview process was introduced a certain Richard Stuart Walker applied for membership, famous as the holder of the British Carp record and specimen hunter par excellence, Dick was seldom out of the Angling news. He was given a severe grilling during the interview with stern warnings not to publish any of catches from Society fisheries. Dick Primarily wanted to fish the Rib for big Dace and Roach finding time to pen the odd article for the club journal one of which concerned fly fishing for coarse fish. He also fished Nazeing occasionally for the Perch. Dick who claimed he was ”not a club man“ (Richard Walker Biography of a Legend by Barrie Rickards) belonged to very few clubs in his lifetime and was probably introduced to Abbey Cross by Jerry Berth-Jones one of the early members of the Carp Catchers Club which Dick had joined. Dick wrote at length in his weekly Angling Times column about the rigours of his Abbey Cross interview.
The front cover of the June 1964 Society Journal carried the banner headline “60 members will lose fishing is your name here!” The lack of response from members to their membership renewal letters was causing the committee concern over the Society finances. This matter was evidently resolved as in the same journal Reg Le Mesurier reports the stocking of just over a hundred 4 inch carp into the right hand lake at Nazeing. These had been hard to obtain due the previous hard winter although an Editorial footnote reports a further 350 carp to 11 inches being stocked at a cost of £100. In a departure from an original decision some of these were stocked into the car park lake. Members were reminded these fish should not be retained in keepnets. It was also reported that a working party at Turnford saw 5 people turn up out of 20 requested to attend.
In 1965 the opportunity to purchase Taylors Lake arose. Known locally as the perch pit it was renamed by the Society in honour of Fred Taylor one time Hon Secretary to the Society. The lake had been run as a half crown day ticket fishery, and was owned by the Kroich family of Dutch descent Our treasurer at the time Peter Leigh (President Elect) completed the purchase almost single handed. It was at times far from straight forward, on one occasion committee members at the lake were approached by a local character resplendent on horseback who claimed he owned the access track. This situation was soon resolved in the Society’s favour and it transpired the gent in question was a Mr Boyd –Gibbons, developer of the original Thorley Park who enjoyed questionable celebrity as being the first person in Britain on the wrong end of a £1,000,000 divorce settlement.
The lake did contain Perch along with Roach and quality Rudd, but by far the main stock fish were Crucian Carp, albeit very small fish. At the time the club matches were still fished to size limits and for this water only the club reduced the size limit to 7.5 inches. The committee were concerned with the stock numbers of small Crucians and instructed that all undersized Crucians caught in the first two matches of the season were removed and put into the river Stort. This policy continued for a few years, but however didn’t seem to improve the size of fish. The lake was then netted and all undersize Crucians transferred to other club waters. The club gave surplus fish to the Waltham Abbey AS for stocking into a new water that they had just acquired.. This culling policy had an almost immediate effect to the fish quality, with 1lb fish fairly common and bags in excess of 50lbs the norm for a days fishing.
Negotiations for a lease to fish the River Beane at Woodhall Park commenced in early 1966, the riparian owner Mr Abel-Smith had worked with the Society to improve the fishery by allowing some new riffle weirs to be put along the mile and a half section. In the Journal of Spring 1966 the committee report that negotiations for the Beane fishing would soon be complete and a restocking programme was being formulated .
In the same journal it was reported that Dick Walker was urging members to write to their MP’s to protest about the increasing water abstraction on Hertfordshire’s rivers; providing a specimen letter for members to use. Apathy was evidently rife as a subsequent journal bemoaned the fact that very few members had bothered to write.
By the beginning of 1967 a 7 year lease for the Beane had been obtained but no mention is made about the fishing in any journals that followed. The lease was allowed to lapse and it can only be speculated that water abstraction very quickly ruined this fishery.
By 1967 the Society was forced to look for new premises, the size of membership was becoming to large for the White Hart Hotel which was due to close due to planned redevelopment of Waltham Cross. One meeting was held at the British Legion in Waltham Abbey but it soon became apparent that our Monday meetings would clash with other activities being held.
An invitation to try the Rosedale Sports Club was received. The clubhouse was used by a cricket and bowls club of which both Bill Lammas and Mick Brayne were members . The building was a wooden pavilion which had been used as the local home guard headquarters during World War 2 and was in need of a new false ceiling . A deal was struck whereby the Abbey Cross would loan £200 for the ceiling replacement in lieu of rent for a few years. In those early years at Rosedale members Brayne and Lammas would open the premises and serve drinks at the bar prior to the meeting, closing the bar once the meeting commenced. During the Societies time at the Rosedale Centre there have been many changes not least the “new” building in use today with Abbey Cross making loans in lieu of rent for various projects, including a new tractor and the resurfacing of the car park. At the beginning of 1968 a number of events were held to celebrate the Society’s 21st anniversary notably in March of that year a speaker evening was held. The guest speakers included Charles Wade of the A.C.A., Charles Landell of the L.A.A., Dick Walker, Fred J Taylor and Don Neish. The first A.G.M to be held at The Rosedale was attended by 93 members on 29th April 1968 and amongst many things the issue of guest tickets was discussed. The outcome being that members could purchase a book of guest tickets for £1.00 from Alan Vare, these books would contain 1 ticket for the Rib, 1 for Nazeing and 5 for general use on any other waters. Guest were not permitted from June 16th to June 30th inclusive. All new members were to serve a year’s probation before attaining full member status.
Lack of support for Reg Le Mesurier in his role as Fishery Officer was discussed as on working parties he was obtaining very poor attendance. A proposition to make working parties compulsory was defeated the consensus being that gentle coercion was better.
No sooner was the ink dry on the purchase of Taylors when the Elsenham Hall Estate came up for auction. The estate was split into lots, one containing a Lake and came complete with the stable block. The Society put in a bid, only to be out bid at £20,000. It would be interesting to know what it might be worth at today’s prices..