The 70's and 80's
At the AGM of May 1969 a proposal was put forward for a new rule allowing the use of two rods at Nazeing. This led to some very heated exchanges with those against arguing that the size of the lake meant it was already overcrowded without allowing two rods to be used. The result being the proposal was voted down.
In the Club journal of April 1970 members Bristow, Chapman and Haynes appeal to the membership to reconsider the request to use two rods at Nazeing on the basis it is now a de facto carp fishery and two rods are desirable to allow bait experimentation in view of the fish becoming harder to catch.
In the interim the committee advised members through the pages of the March 1971 journal that night fishing might become allowed on Nazeing but first the views of the membership would be sought via a questionnaire to be sent out with retainment forms. The results of the survey were clearly in favour of the proposed night fishing as in the Winter 1971 journal it is reported that Bert Ralph is organising the night fishing which had gone smoothly with no problems. The new facility was very popular with members.
Eventually at the AGM of April 1972 it was proposed that two rods be allowed on the Nazeing Carp Pit during the hours of darkness, it was carried by 69 for and 8 against.
During 1976 the Society were notified some water might be available on the River Ivel at Moggerhanger, a farmer, Mr Burrows had advertised the fishing rights and was open for bids. Correspondence began in 1976 with the lease eventually signed in March 1977, however things were far from straight forward.
Peter Leigh and Reg Le Mesurier negotiated the lease only to find that farmer Burrows didn’t actually own the land with the fishing rights. Further enquiry found the riparian owner to be the China Clay Company who were prepared to sell the land to Burroughs for £9,000 which he didn’t have. Abbey Cross loaned Mr Burrows the money, which he accepted in lieu of rent for the fishing. This effectively secured the fishing for over twenty years during which the Society held the deeds to the land as security, the debt has long since been cleared but the Society continues with lease and has a good relationship with the farmer's widow Mrs Burrows.
Having fishing rights on the river Ivel opened up whole host of other fishing possibilities and an approach to join the Ivel Protection Association (IPA) was soon received, with Abbey Cross becoming key members in the organisation, providing various Officers to the association over the years including Peter Jordan and the late Terry (Ivan) Chesterman who served in various post at the IPA and was known as an “Ivel Man”.
The relationship with the IPA led to the Society sharing fishing on the Ouse at Box End farm with the British Aerospace Angling Club whereby Abbey Cross paid the rent and their members maintained the fishery, BAC have since folded and Abbey Cross now has the fishing lease exclusively. The exchange ticket arrangement with the Shefford Club and block membership of the Blunham Club both came about due to our association with the IPA. The fishing rights at Moggerhanger have reaped many benefits for the Society since the loan to farmer Burrows.
Following the completion of the Moggerhanger loan lease arrangement Society Member Mr Fred French in his role as Chairman of the Lea Valley Anglers Conservation Consultative, approached the Committee to take the lease of Turnford Pits which the Lea Valley Parks were seeking a tenant for. The Society ultimately turned down the offer on the basis that the fishing on Ashlea Pit adjacent to the Turnford complex was already available to members and was sufficient in that area.
As a result the Turnford Consortium was formed Abbey Cross being a key member with Bert Munns, Chairman of Abbey Cross also becoming Consortium Chairman ,a position he held for many years.
The Society became ever popular throughout the 80’s with a 3 year wait to join not unusual. To assist the vetting process for new members those on the waiting list could take an associate membership to fish the Cat and Monkey stretch of the Lea, Toyhall and Turnford(Ashlea) pit. These fisheries were under-utilised by the membership and whilst it lasted, the scheme, which encouraged associates to attend meetings and working parties, was a pathway to full membership for many members. These include fishery officers and committee men such as Les Jones, Dave Fosset and Phil Buckingham. The associate scheme was administered by Peter Arnold for many years until it ceased in the early nineties.
Towards the late 80’s the Societies long association with the London Anglers Association came to an end when the minimum 12 anglers needed to join the LAA could no longer be found within the membership.
The late 80’s also provided a little scandal with the club accounts being less than satisfactory, however once the problem was uncovered the previous Treasurer Ron Povey came out of retirement for a second term of duty and promptly had the finances back in order. He was understudied by Phil Buckingham who took over as Treasurer in 1988.
The timing of this proved quite significant as without properly audited accounts it may have proved difficult to achieve the purchase of Coopers Lake (named in honour of Roy Cooper) in 1989 for which a large bank loan was needed.
The acquisition of Coopers was in part achieved by the extraordinary efforts of one member; Bob Chambers who undertook the task of writing to every club member asking them to make interest free loans towards the purchase of Coopers. Many members made loans or outright donations with a sum of approximately £20,000 raised every pound raised this way reducing the amount needed from the bank at commercial rates. Bob coordinated the responses and logged the loans all of which were paid pack within 5 years or became donations in the case of those members not wishing to be repaid. A similar sum of about £20,000 was borrowed from the Bank.
Alongside Bob Chambers fundraising venture, Treasurer Phil Buckingham introduced the 500 club which entailed members paying in a sum of money per month for each draw number the wished to purchase . Each quarter depending on the amount of numbers sold each quarter a prize pot was paid out, based on a random draw. In excess of £1,000 was paid out every quarter with some lucky members scooping the top prize of £500.The surplus after prizes remained in the Society.
The 500 club raised several thousands of pounds towards paying off the bank loan for Coopers and in a short few years the debt was cleared. The administration of the 500 Club passed to Tony Williams when Phil Buckingham stepped down as Treasurer to help with the administration of the newly formed Barbel Society. The 500 Club continued to make a good return for the Society but eventually diminished as more members spent their money on the newly formed National Lottery. Faced with the inevitable it was eventually decided not worth continuing. Having acquired Coopers Lake much work was needed. Early work parties concentrated on cleaning up rubbish and improving the fencing on the road bank, which included the planting of the Conifers which now grow there. A longer term project involved the back filling required to bring the far bank within our legal boundary. At the time of purchase the boundary ran through the lake. Clean back fill material was sourced and member George Brown organised the mammoth task of having the tons of material delivered. The remarkable thing in all of this being that it cost the Society nothing to achieve. With the boundary established on dry land the back fill was extended to provide the spit that now extends into the Lake. The additional feature of a small island at the end of the spit was added with great effort by Bob Fox and his fishery team. Coopers eventually became the showcase water it is today. Transformed from being a scruffy, hole in the ground day ticket fishery into a lake surrounded by lush vegetation, a haven for wildlife and a pretty good fishery.