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Old 09-02-13, 10:26
AndyHoldcroft AndyHoldcroft is offline
Join Date: Jan 2013
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Default Family transcript 7: "Fishing Diary" pt 5

The fifth set of transcripts of the diary of Edward Dolton. By this time, his writing seems to veer from concentrating on fishing towards other things, such as poetic descriptions of the locations (e.g. entry for September 1893), agriculture (he tried his hand at this disastrously some thirty years later) and his family.


Jany 1
Plants Brook Resr. Too cold & frosty, so no sport. Wind North: & reservoir three parts frozen over. Caught only one small perch; as roach would not bite at all.

Feb 1
Plants Bk. Res. Wind N.W. very rough & strong. Occasional showers of rain & sleet. Roach bit well but the water so lumpy that lost many bites.

Note: this is first entry since the birth of his daughter Elsie Dolton (later Davis) (1892-1975) on 23rd January.
Feb 11
Plants Bk. Res. Beautiful early spring day, sun shining most of the day and birds pairing & singing. Wind N. Fish not well on the feed. Lost large fish by striking too hard & the end of the main line breaking the gut & float went off with the fish.
Feb 15
Plants Bk. Res. Fine at first but bitterly cold turning to snow & sleet. Left off at 10-30 & walked home, reaching it with a good cake of snow on me. Winter returned today – the country white with snow, a driving north wind and hard frost at night.

Feb 25
Plants Bk. Res. Cold & rather misty. Wind E. Rose couple wild ducks on arriving at Reservoir. They were feeding with the tame ones. Fish would not bite probably because of a fortnight’s ice only having melted off the day previously.

June 9
Plants Brook, Sutton Park. Fished with worm & caught 2 small trout under the bridges by floating down with a bit of dead stick. Not much use fishing here in clear water.
June 16
Plants Bk. Reservoirs. Cold & dull weather – occasional showers. The brook too clear for trout fishing, so went in for perch. I had a good inning - only the fish were small. Caught them all from the boat house. Tried the new Russian artificial worms but found they were of no use for perch as they refused them whilst taking the natural worm well. Only caught 2 fish with 6 of them. Afterwards caught another perch with worm who looked pale & ill and the cause was evidently part of an artificial “wollum” which he sicked up when in the boat.

June 28
Plants Bk. Resrs. Day dull & warm. Water very low & clear & fish not feeding. Six or eight perch would surround & discuss the bait but would not take it. Lots of young perch about 3 inches long swimming round edge of water.

July 8
Plants Bk. Reserrs. Very strong westerly wind blowing, almost impossible to fish. Lost many bites through float being blown about violently.
July 12
Plants Bk. Ress. Very cold dull day with S.E. wind & snow in several parts of England & Ireland. Line broken by good perch, in striking. Saw a kingfisher along the brook.
July 21
Plants Bk. Ress. Weather cool & dull. Wind N.W. Water low & full of fry of perch & a proportion of gudgeon. Thousands in the wells of the filtering beds, which are apparently wasted. Fish not biting.

Aug 10
Plants Brook Reser. Sharp frost on the grass at 6 o’clock this morning and day’s weather turned out beautifully, fine with hardly any wind. Saw a kingfisher along Plant’s brook and 3 small trout : and lots of small gudgeon. Discovered that the large reservoir contained quantities of fine gudgeon but they would not bite.
Aug 18
Llandudno pier. Fished for two or three hours and caught only a crab and a start-fish. One man caught a whiting and another one a plaice, and nothing else caught at all. Too many steamers disturb the water. Fish here do not take to shrimps as bait; the ground being rather rocky. Mussels and lugworms are best, used with a light lead – off the bottom. The estuary of the Conway about 3 miles off is much the best fishing ground.

Oct 26
Plants Bk. Ress First time of fishing since leaving Sutton54. Very cold & frosty – thin sheets of ice on reservoirs in morning, afterwards melted by the sun. Turned out a very bright sunny day, with some wind. Caught no roach as water & sky were so bright & fish consequently easily scared. In similar circumstances again try fishing in mid water & retiring from the bank until a bite comes; or hiding in some way – leaving the rod to lie quiet without being flourished about. Saw a stoat chasing a rabbit, leaping along on the scent of the latter with neck outstretched.
54 This would suggest that Edward & Eva moved from Sutton Coldfield to “Mayfield” in Redditch in September or October 1892.It is interesting that he continued to fish at the Plants Brook Reservoirs though as it would entail a much longer journey from their new home west of Birmingham to the eastern suburbs of the city.


April 1
No fishing up to now through want of time55. Extraordinary fine sunny weather with occasional night frosts from the last week in February until now. The hawthorn at Redditch covered with bloom buds – quite a month earlier than usual.
55 Note that at time of writing, Eva would be seven months pregnant (see note below for July).

April 16
Rain come at last after about 7 weeks continual fine weather with hardly a day’s break in it and no rain all the time. Had more sunshine than all last year, and no one seems able to recollect such a magnificent spring time. The hawthorn buds ready to burst into bloom. The last few years they have bloomed about the first week in June.
April 20
Hawthorn in bloom where all sheltered. The rain only lasted one day and then fine sunny weather again, hotter than ever, with warm nights. Cuckoo heard yesterday for first time. Oak trees in leaf & bloom. Horse chesnuts (sic) d(itt)o & lilac, Blue-bells (wild hyacinths) and laburnum.

April 27
Heard corn-crake about 10 o’clock last night. Broom and pink hawthorn in full bloom.
April 28
Picked 8 Gloire de Dijon roses off tree against wall, fully opened. Large quantity of buds on.
Magnificently fine weather up till now but grass, turnips & cereals burnt up or stunted in growth. Good fruit season, especially for plums which in many instances did not pay for gathering. Our best tree had 129 lb of fruit (Victoria’s) on and sold for only 2d per lb. Preserved abt. cwt of them for jam & bottled fruit. Rain came this month but too late to save the crops.
The gap between entries is probably due to the birth (in June) of Edward & Eva’s eldest son, Edward Thomas (“Ted”) Dolton (1893-1941).

The rain in July lasted intermittingly for about 10 days & then the heat set in again worse than before. The temperature for the hottest week this month averaged 84o in the shade and was about 120o to 130o in the sun. The earth being moist from the previous rain made the heat much more oppressive to the feelings than the hot weather was before the rain came. Hay being sold at from £7 to £10 per ton. Farmers are having to sell their cattle for any price to be got as there is no field in the country for them. Good yearling heifers going by auction at from £2 each & milking cows £3 to £5. Ruination to many must ensue from such deplorable losses. Large quantities of Canadian & other hay coming into the country fetching from £5 to £6 per ton. Straw worth £4 per ton.

First day’s fishing this year. Went alone to Salford Priors56 & fished in Avon below Cleve Mill. 6d per day but the river is netted. Caught about a score, the largest roach about ½ lb & going down to gudgeon of an ounce. Most lovely day and the trees & bushes a glowing mass of colour in their autumnal tints. Hot & fine all this month until the 28th when at last the rain came after more than 8 weeks fine weather. There appears to have been about 10 ordinary English summers rolled into one this year. Saw 2 steam engines at work by the Avon side each pumping 1000 gals of water per minute on to the fields. Where this had been done some months previously very good crops of hay had been got. Black grapes (not as large as greenhouse ones) were ripe on the walls of houses at Salford Priors. Beautiful peal of bells in the church tower – sound as though they were partly of silver. Very nice old-fashioned looking place with many thatched houses.
56 In Warwickshire on River Avon: approximately 12 miles south of Redditch. Mill now spelt Cleeve Mill
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