Deal Mecca of sea angling

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Deal Mecca of sea angling

Post  Dave Chamberlain on Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:27 pm

Throughout the 1950s and 60s boat fishing festivals and competitions were always popular and well attended. Deal was well known as the ‘Mecca of Angling’ and people from all over the country entered such events. At times, prospective competitors had their entrance fee refunded as there were not enough places for them in the many charter boats that plied for hire on the beach.

The festivals were always held in winter, as it was considered that this was the best time to exploit the vast shoals of cod that frequented the area. Cod did make up the majority of the catch, however, whiting, pouting and dogfish also filled the anglers bags. The event would be run over a three day period, which included the weekend and Monday, although this was later cut down to just the Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately the weather often took a turn for the worse in those months of October and November and it was hard pushed to get the full amount of fishing days in.

For the officers and committees of the two main angling clubs – Deal (1919) AC and Deal & Walmer AC – it was a busy time to cater for all those wishing to participate. Firstly, the clubs’ vast amount of silver cups had to be retrieved from the year before winners. These, along with the prizes, were then placed in a local shop which had a large enough window space to display the trophies. The main prize was for the greatest aggregate of sizable fish with different classes for separate species. Second and third prizes were also awarded for each class. It seemed a never ending job for the committee to get everything just right, and very few anglers realised how much work went on behind the scenes.

On the day of the boat festival, it was up to the clubs officials to consult with the boatmen on the weather prospects. If it was deemed fit, then the rowing boats would be allowed to go afloat half an hour earlier than the motor vessels. At the end of the six hour competition the anglers were allowed thirty minutes to get their catches to the weigh-in; which was usually held in the Royal or Queens’s hotel car park just off the sea-front. All the fish had to be measured and then weighed and recorded. This procedure would take hours if a large catch was encountered; in an early 1960s boat festival over two tons of fish were caught by anglers.

The evening’s prize giving was always a grand affair. Normally the Mayor of Deal, after a speech, would have presented the trophies to the winners. Each cup won then had to be signed for and the angler’s address noted for collection the following year. Hopefully, for the angling club, everything had gone smoothly and a small profit had been attained – although the hard work that had been put in by the committee could never be evaluated financially.



I appear in two of those photos ... not holdind a tope ... give you a clue it's a ray.

Dave Chamberlain

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Re: Deal Mecca of sea angling

Post  Nick Hedges on Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:33 am

Just amazing enthusiasm back then, and being soon after the war the freedom of being able to get out and fish freely must have made it a big event in the town.
Were the matches well received by all ? did you have any anti's in those days, and it looks like you were getting loads of spectator's, something that's hardly seen these days.
Some impressive fish on show in them pics, how nice to be able to get back to those standards.

Oh how i wish for quantum leap.

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Re: Deal Mecca of sea angling

Post  Dave Chamberlain on Fri Oct 01, 2010 11:19 am

A thought evoking question Nick … and one I haven’t considered before. Deal, like many sea side towns, relied on anglers as part of the tourism and the councils helped with the promotion. Most of the mayors and aldermen were officials in the angling clubs. The festivals and dinner dances were big social events and the public also took an interest.

As you said, now it is more PC and more restrictions. Now you are looking over your shoulder to make sure that there are no tree huggers waiting to have a go.

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Re: Deal Mecca of sea angling

Post  Nick Hedges on Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:25 pm

True community spirit, one of the many things missing in today's society, i for one was against history at school, could not see the point of it back then, but now ! its becoming very clear today's society needs to go back and learn some of yesterdays morals.
These days we seem to do a little for charity and that's us content, then we leave others to deal with what really is going on in this horrid time of life, but is anybody dealing with it ?

Moving on Dave, the rowing boats you mentioned, how many men per boat are we talking, and how safe were they ?

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Re: Deal Mecca of sea angling

Post  Davesea on Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:58 pm

Nice piece of educational reading Dave and loved the black and white photos.

Still think the Deal area is one of the friendliest place to fish not from just the fellow anglers but also from the dog walkers and walkers etc always seem to stop and chat (sandown castle area anyway) or are they just being kind thinking that some village somewhere has lost their idiot clown

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Re: Deal Mecca of sea angling

Post  Dave Chamberlain on Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:06 pm

Stix wrote:True community spirit, one of the many things missing in today's society, i for one was against history at school, could not see the point of it back then, but now ! its becoming very clear today's society needs to go back and learn some of yesterdays morals.
These days we seem to do a little for charity and that's us content, then we leave others to deal with what really is going on in this horrid time of life, but is anybody dealing with it ?

Moving on Dave, the rowing boats you mentioned, how many men per boat are we talking, and how safe were they ?

A rowing boat would fish four, and no boat was allowed out unless there were at least two competitors in the boat. This ruling was eventually scrapped as everybody had an outboard engine. The club had a couple of 14 footers with British Anzani outboards which were a b#gger to start. How safe were they? … Put it this way, the most important part of the boat’s equipment was the bailer, and with the many wooden charter boats it was the bilge pump. The first charter boat I worked on let in so much water my arms ended up like Popeye’s at the end of a day’s pumping.

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Re: Deal Mecca of sea angling

Post  Dave Chamberlain on Fri Oct 01, 2010 1:19 pm

Davesea wrote:Nice piece of educational reading Dave and loved the black and white photos.

Still think the Deal area is one of the friendliest place to fish not from just the fellow anglers but also from the dog walkers and walkers etc always seem to stop and chat (sandown castle area anyway) or are they just being kind thinking that some village somewhere has lost their idiot clown

I live in north Deal (Sandown Castle area) and also fish and take my daily walk to the Castle’s remains. Dogs and dog walkers are not my favourite people. The bylaw states that dogs are not allowed on the beach in the months between May and October, and at all times must be kept on a lead. Therefore, I get most upset when I tread in dog shite and even put my rod butt in it. Likewise when the animals come up and pee all over my gear. Obviously I’m a cat lover … no offence Dave.

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Re: Deal Mecca of sea angling

Post  Davesea on Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:45 am

CELOCANT wrote:
Davesea wrote:Nice piece of educational reading Dave and loved the black and white photos.

Still think the Deal area is one of the friendliest place to fish not from just the fellow anglers but also from the dog walkers and walkers etc always seem to stop and chat (sandown castle area anyway) or are they just being kind thinking that some village somewhere has lost their idiot clown

I live in north Deal (Sandown Castle area) and also fish and take my daily walk to the Castle’s remains. Dogs and dog walkers are not my favourite people. The bylaw states that dogs are not allowed on the beach in the months between May and October, and at all times must be kept on a lead. Therefore, I get most upset when I tread in dog shite and even put my rod butt in it. Likewise when the animals come up and pee all over my gear. Obviously I’m a cat lover … no offence Dave.


I use to own a staff past away 18 months ago now the lady next doors cats come a do much the same as dogs on the beach in my garden.So we will have to beg to differ on this one.Mind you if its any consolation I HATE dog owners you dont pickup their pets mess

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