Brownes Pond and The Observers Book of Coarse Fishing

For people who do not know Brownes Pond in Bridgwater one can honestly say in terms of fishing venues go it’s more Old Kent Road as opposed to Park Lane or Mayfair. It location is its Achilles heel, for where it nestles between Elmwood avenue and the canal, as well as being a short walk from town and a stones throw from the so called notorious Hamp estate has seen this place became a beeline for some of societies undesirables, the low life of Bridgwater. The vast majority of visitors to the pond are decent people who come to enjoy the surroundings and the pleasures of being able to relax and take in the view offered by the pond itself. A few people however which can be truly be put in to the group marked Homo Waster has left their foot print around this venue in terms of beer cans, empty drink bottles and fast food wrappers etc oh and not forgetting that most symbolic item of this subset of civilization who destiny seems to be the benefits office, police cell and the probation service yep you’ve guessed it the used hypodermic needle. Drug dealers that scourge of scourges are known to frequent this place and make a few bob add a certain cloud of ruin to the area.

However with all the negatives that surround the place it still has enough strength in its character just to hold its head above water and provide a tolerable days fishing. Which by the way is free.

My first encounter of Brownes pond was way back in the mid seventies when the street gang decided to try something different and venture from the normal fishing haunt of Dunwear and try something new. Brownes pond was picked and the gang encountered their first fishing session at venue. What I remember from this trip is that it was the first time I caught fish on a first time visit to a venue. Soon after another visit resulted in me catching a small Tench but for reasons that have been lost in the mists of time. The place was never frequented by the gang again and Brownes was slowly forgotten and it faded from ones mind.

It was a while later after our 2 expeditions and the gang one sunny morning were sat on our front lawn dwelling on what we could do for the forth coming afternoon. “There he is there’s Mike” Mike was one of the gang but for some reason today he was later than usual. He was walking down the street heading our way. The manner in which he was walking was determined by the fact that he was reading a book. Mike was a tall lad and as a result he had a very big stride and big feet to match which was noted by us kids especially when one had to walk along side him. Owing to this characteristic he had the occasional nickname of the cartoon character Claude Hopper.

The one and only Claude Hopper.

But today his gait was more of an amble. The gang watched Mike approached the pavement outside our house with his eyes still fixated on the pages of the book he suddenly looked up realized that he had arrived at his intended destination altered course went up the garden path then crossed over onto the lawn and stopped at where we were. The gang were silent and all looked up at Mike. “good book” came a comment. Mike held the book in a way in which all could see and spoke ” This is the book that will do it for me” This was the first time I set eyes on the book The Observers Book Of Coarse Fishing by Peter Wheat.

This is my treasured copy bought in 1976 for 90 pence.

“Here have a ganders” and Mike gave the book to Dave who was nearest. Dave sat crossed legged and began to peer into the pages occasionally turning the book to get a better perception of some of the diagrams. Dave became engrossed and this lead the the rest of us to shimmy towards him and peer over his shoulder. A short while past and it was my turn to have a look. The book came with a dust jacket I opened the book at the front inside cover and flipped away part of the dust jacket that was covering part of a diagram. I look at the diagram (which is shown below) and immediately my thoughts were of Brownes Pond Why well have a look at the diagram and it depicts roughly the same characteristics.

The inside cover which made me think of Brownes Pond.

But this picture was taster of how the book was put together. This little gem of a fishing publication is some what hard to put into a specific category in terms of, is it a childrens book, is it an adults book or is it a reference book. Well in my humble opinion it is a mixture of all three. You can treat as you see fit.

But the over riding feature of this book that it draws you into a slightly surreal world, a world that every wants to be part of and wants to know a world made simple. Just look at the picture below.

Chilling out in an ideal world.

This was a book written in the days before poles and commericals so yea you can say it’s dated now but it deserves a place on all angling historians book shelves for its graceful and stylish manner. And the pleasingly, ingenious and simple portrayal of angling in the 1970’s. As a lasting tribute to this neat and well put together book every member of the gang within a month had bought a copy.

Peter Wheat wrote a few other books such as

The Fighting Barbel indeed Peter Wheat was for a while the president of the Barbel Society.

Also Mr. Wheat wrote Angling Down The Years.

But Peter Wheat also penned the book The Observers Book of Fly Fishing.

It is at this stage I would to give you a few facts about the humble Observer book publications.

The first book was on british bird published way way back in 1937.

In 1942 a special edition was published called Airplanes its main purpose was to help people in war time Britain to help spot enemy airplanes. Copies go for over £250 on Ebay.

There was in total a 101 different titles altogether, such subjects included

Common Fungi.

Mosses and Liver Wort.

Furniture.

Pottery and Porcelain

Sewing

Glass

and to cap it all brought out in 1999 was wait for it The Observer Book of Observer Books.

The Coming year

The fixture list for the forth coming match government policy permitting is listed below.

End of 2020 2021 Season.

Please note we are down to fish Landsend on April 24th but this clashes with the Angling Times Super cup. As far as the the Angling Times dated January 12th 2021 the competition is still going ahead but obviously this is subject to government policy. If the the Super cup goes ahead then the Landsend match will be on the 1st May.

Well lets hope this lockdown number 3 will soon pass.

But until then Tights Lines.

Pete C