The Letters of Reverend E C Alston

Part 7 – April to November 1975

After the festive period has been and gone, I felt a quick return to the Alston letters would be of interest to students of relatively recent angling history.

The letters in question largely relate to the publication of Freshwater Fishing by Buller and Hugh Falkus (I have already lamented the fact I have lost my signed edition of a rare Bronco copy). Alston appears suitably impressed, and I would like to know if he appears in the acknowledgment page of the first edition as he does not in my 1998 paperback reprint.

The Reverend also bemoans the necessity of a further house move. He mentions a place at Hethersett in Norfolk, and Fred Buller kindly offers to put him up at the family home in Great Missenden, or even in the cottage at Ballinrobe, close to Lough Mask. (This is the legendary cottage where I stayed for five weeks in the spring of 1990. I believe I have the date correct: it was immediately after the notorious Irish Boat Strike had ended, and I was one of the first boats out on the water. That might account for the fact that I caught a large number of ferox trout, fish which had been left alone for quite a while.)

The Reverend’s fishing he says is dull, now that he is ageing and has limited mobility. He envies Fred the latter’s trip to the Delphi Fishery in Ireland, which he used to know well, he writes. Alston is perhaps not the first of the more famous anglers that lived a comparatively modest old age, think of Bernard Venables as a famous example.

And yet, Alston has the wherewithal to add to his tackle collection, mentioning more Norfolk sourced floats that “may be 18th century”. He has added to his collection of PD Malloch reels and “also a fine old Hardy brass salmon fly reel, on ball bearings, with no royal arms on it”.

In August 1975, Alston ends by saying “I fear things are not in a good way in this country”. I wonder what he would say about the events of the past few years and the issues facing us now?

Coming in the late part of 1975 are the interchanges on the Deene Park Pike and Alston’s recollections on Griggs, the taxidermist.

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