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The History of the ODAA Ltd.

On 7th November 1931- Mr. FREDERICK BOURNE placed the following advert in The Orpington Journal: “It is proposed to form an Angling Association in this district. Will all interested please attend 9 Chislehurst Road, Orpington at 7 p.m. on 12th November 1931″. Eight people responded to the advert, so becoming with Mr. Bourne (a local police sergeant) the first nine members of the ODAA.

At this stage the Association was without funds, waters or fishing rights and no waters in the area contained fish.

Having met on 12th November, those in attendance agreed that an Association should be formed and that it should be known as the Orpington & District Angling Association. It was decided that membership should be open to both sexes within the district. (Proposed by Mr. R. SMITH and seconded by Mr. R. WRIGHT).

A further proposal by Mr. R. HUNTER (he of the Hunter Cup) which was seconded by Mr. Wright resulted in the election of Mr. Bourne (Founders Trophy) as Secretary with Mr. C. GILES as Chairman and Treasurer, and Mr. Hunter as Clerk of the Scales.

Other matters which were resolved at this inaugural meeting were:
1) The headquarters of the Association should be at 9 Chislehurst Road (the home of Mr. C.GILES).
2) Those present should be elected as the Committee until the start of the next season
3) The subscription should be 2/6d (12.5p!) until the new season, and thereafter 5/- (25p) per annum, plus badges and licenses.
4) A further advertisement would be inserted in the local press announcing the formation of the Association.
5) Mr. WALDRON-SMITHERS, M.P. would be asked to accept the post of President.
6) The Secretary would be asked to fill the posts of Vice-President from Messrs. DOYLE, SYMONDSON, BROMBY, NASH, BRUCE, SALTER and Mrs. C. BUENS. (Local dignitaries?)
N B The nine founder members who attended this first meeting of the Association were : Mr. A. Taylor, Mr. D. Taylor, Mr. R. Smith, Mr. G. Smith, Mr. R. Wright, Mr. R. Hunter, Mr. S. Bushell Mr. C. Giles and Mr. F. Bourne.

Subsequent meetings were held at approximately weekly intervals and by the end ot 19.11 it had been decided that a deposit account should be opened at Martins Bank, a club competition should be held at Staplehurst or Penshurst Lake (entry fee V- (5p), junior annual subscription should be 50% of seniors, and that Messrs. HEFFENSTALL and HOLBEACH be asked to accept posts as Vice Presidents. At this stage four new members had been recruited to the Association.

Although there is no reference to a lease being obtained, it would appear that the Association used waters at Staplehurst on a regular basis. At one meeting it was decided to purchase fish for stocking and £3 (Yes £3!) was paid to “Surrey Trout farm . There is no record of what species or quantity this vast amount of money purchased. Committee meetings settled down to approximately monthly intervals from the beginning of 1932 and Orpington Village Hall became the venue. The make-up of the Committee did not change but yet another Vice President, Mr. PURCELL was elected. Since neither he nor those previously mentioned appear to have been members, it must be assumed that local dignitaries were being taken on board to give the Association some form of status.

The February 1932 meeting had one item of particular interest in that Mr. Giles’ proposal that no limits be placed on the area of recruitment or numbers of members was carried unanimously. This was to change dramatically in June 1936 when it was decided that membership should be limited to those applicants living in the Sidcup, Grays, Chislehurst, Orpington and Bromley parishes.
Much emphasis was placed on matches. They were held about once a month and travel was normally by train or ‘chara’ (coach).
In March 1932 the first reference is made in Committee minutes to Broomwood Lake, although it was called ‘Cray Lake’ or ‘Home Lake. At this point it becomes clear that the £3 mentioned above was intended to add fish to Broomwood, and it is incredible to find that this sum secured 250 ‘King Carp’.

The first AGM was held at Orpington Village Hall on 6th April 1932, the main business being to set cut the rules of the Association and elect the Committee and Officers. Minimum acceptable fish sizes for competitions were also set.

Messrs. Burr, Purcell, Richards and Harwood were elected to complete the existing Committee, together with Mr. Bourne as Secretary, Mr. Giles as Treasurer, Mr. Bushell as Chairman, Mr. Hunter as Clerk of the Scales and Mr. F. Williams (later known to many as “Pop” ) as Auditor and Stockist.

One item in the June 1932 minutes is interesting in that there seemed to be no close season. Match dates are listed for each month of the year 1932/33. Another states that the ‘proposer’ would be responsible for presenting new members fees to the Treasurer. In August 1932 it becomes clear that 36 per year was paid for the fishing rights at Staplehurst (Slaney Place?) Another water is mentioned – Blinkhorns Pits. There is no clear indication as to its location, though the Secretary was instructed to offer the owner £1 per year for its rental. Harwood’ s Pits is also mentioned and the Committee agreed to the owner’s request for £1 per year rental. £1 seemed to be the magic sum in 1932 – it was also the top prize for the Christmas competition.

Regrettably, 1932 finished on a sour note. A special Committee meeting was called to discuss the conduct of one of its members. He had “made unfair criticisms of certain members in public houses at various dates and times”. The member was present and did not deny the allegations. He resigned from the Association.

As the records become unravelled, it becomes clear that the previously referred to “Horwood’s Pits were in fact what we know as “Broomwood Lake” and not a separate water. The members knew it as “Cray Lakes” or “Home Lake”.

Stocking of the waters was always high on the committee’s agenda and it is noted in the minutes for February 1933 that 1000 x 5” Rudd were brought to “Home Lake” from a match held at Platt Lake (another venue which was being rented by the association).

Considering that, in the main, public transport or the hiring of a coach was the usual mode of transport; the Members sought their fishing over quite a distance at times. For example, efforts were being made to rent waters at Chiddingstone for the princely sum of £10! The suggestion was that money to finance this would be raised by an additional annual subscription of 7/6d to be paid only by those wishing to fish the water. The remainder of the members would continue to pay the normal 5/-. It was considered that the waters could be self-supporting and no draining of the association’s funds would result. In the main, the records are rather scant but there seems to have been little progress because the possible rental was still being discussed three years later at the AGM held at the Orpington Village Hall in April 1936.

As the ODAA evolved, so additions and alterations were made to its Rules. 1933 saw the establishment of the Membership year as June to June. Badges were purchased and the members were allowed to purchase Guest Tickets. Day tickets for non-Members were not permitted.

Competition fishing was popular right from the start. Sea fishing competitions are mentioned – Hastings in May 1933, Newhaven April 1934, Dover in February 1937. The latter took place on the Prince of Wales Pier but was so poorly attended that an earlier proposal to form a sea angling section was not pursued.

Coarse angling competitions however remained popular. They took place roughly once a month from June to March and in 1933/4 the four venues were Chiddingstone, Staplehurst, Platt and Home Lake. Trout competitions were held in April and May at Robertbridge.

Staplehurst, Platt and Home Lake continued to be rented.

August 1933 saw the purchase of the club cup for £5.15

At some point during early 1933 it seems that certain unknown actions at Home Lake had upset the owner (Mr. Horwood) – probably entry by an unauthorized access point; what’s new! Much negotiation took place to resolve the matter, to the extent that all members were sent a copy of notice reminding them of particular Association rules. This action and a Christmas gift to Mr. Horwood’s daughter normalized the situation. The young lady seems to have done quite well out of the arrangement as the purchase of a gift appears in the minutes over a number of subsequent years.

The committee of the period was extremely strict. An item in the December 1933 Minutes refers to the attendance before them of a member accused of wrongly recording three Dace during a competition at Chiddingsone in October of that year. A confession was extracted and the member resigned. Another resigned in February 1934 following an interview with the committee relating to an unknown matter.

In December 1933 the Bromley Cup was presented to the Association by Mr. F. Bromley, one of the Vice presidents.

An attempt to obtain yet more facilities was made in 1934 when the secretary Mr. F.Bourne was requested to negotiate the rental of water at Fingays Farm, Biddenden for £6 10/- p.a.; it is not clear what the outcome was.

Yet another Member resigned following an interview with the committee in February 1934. Someone must have been blowing the whistle!

As it is today, weather had quite an effect on the fishing in those early days. A period of severe drought resulted in waters everywhere in the South of England falling to perilously low levels. So much so, that the committee decided not to renew the rental at Staplehurst (Slaney Place) and drastic action was needed to raise the rapidly lowering level at the Home water. The problem became so bad that hourly measurement showed that the level fell by 14” in a 24 Hour period in August 1934

Pollution also reared its head. Due to the lack of water, the lakes acidity was increased apparently due to a discharge into the water from a paper mill upstream. The level did not return to normal until November 1935.

The identity of “Blinkhorns Pits” also becomes clearer at this stage. The committee was attempting to rent the water for £3 p.a. and if successful intended to add stock. However, local landowners objected to such an arrangement and the proposal fell through. A note in the margin of the record book states that the pits were subsequently sold to the landowners who raised the objections and that the pits were then acquired by the Cray Sand and Ballast Co. I believe that Blinkhorns pits were in fact the waters which the association leases to day i.e. Ruxley gravel pits!

Although some stock was obtained by netting a number of farm ponds (7000 fish being placed in the home lake in April 1935), the committee also opened a subscription list which at the end of 1934 had raised £14 7/-.

The AGM switched venues in 1935 when the White Hart in Orpington High St. was used. A dinner and prize presentation followed the formal business which included instructions to the committee to add the Rother Fishery Association’s waters to those of the Association. A further cup was presented to the association (the Bruce Cup) and the members voted unanimously that membership should be open only to those who lived in Sidcup, the Crays, Chistlehurst, Orpington and Bromley parishes.

Returning to the subject of competitions and trophies, it has been decided that presentations should be as follows:

Bromley Cup (and silver medal) – best fish of the year.
Club Cup (and silver medal) – highest aggregate of points on certain dates.
Bruce Cup (and silver medal) – highest aggregate of points on other certain dates.
5/- awarded to the captor of the best fish of each species recorded.

Yet another venue was visited on 6th December 1936 – Ashurst in Sussex.

After the drought, came the floods. The efforts of the association to net for stocking were again thwarted, this time by too much water. Smarden is mentioned though others were also being considered. It would appear that the flooding began in March 1937 and was still a problem in June. So was litter on the Home water – so what’s new!

Finally, the minutes of the AGM held on the 26th May 1938 report that Horwoods Pits (Home water) has been purchased by Major W. Nash. So it was as I thought – Broomwood!

At the end of part two I reported that Major W Nash had purchased the Broomwood Lake (‘Home Water’) in 1939, although the Association’s records for this period are quite brief, it seems that he granted free fishing of the water to the ODAA, only requiring that they paid for the maintenance (swim building etc) and stocking. This arrangement prevailed for the next 40 years or so.

The minutes of the 1938 AGM record the election of Mr C Ball as bailiff (unpaid) and the Clerk of the Scales, ‘Pop’ Williams became a Vice President in recognition of his efforts in stocking the water.

The committee comprised of 8 members who were elected for the coming season, but I have not been able to discover the overall membership of the Association at the time. The members present at this AGM voted in favor of an increase in annual subscription from 5 shillings to 10 shillings and 6 pence (52 1/2 p) with a similar entrance fee for new members.

Matches for the season were held on the ‘Home Water’ and at Bodmin on the River Rother, the latter being in October and being ‘well attended with a good result’.

Committee meetings continued to be held monthly and the determination of the officers to apply the rules to the letter was illustrated by their calling on a number of members to explain alleged infringements. Decisions ranged from suspension for a month to expulsion.

Applications from potential new members were rigorously scrutinised, unless they were sponsored and seconded by existing members of two years standing, they stood little chance of acceptance, in some cases however, they were able to provide references from their previous clubs which were acceptable to the OD-AA committee.

It seems that the Committee did not spend all their time whipping the members into line, at the end of their meeting of the 11th December 1938 they treated themselves to a rod making lecture, do it yourself is not new!

The 1939 AGM was held on the 7th June at a most unusual venue The Orpington Cafe’. Where that could have been I know not (any ideas). The normal business of the election of officers was followed by a number of proposals:
That the association should be “put on the phone” in order to reduce the cost and time involved in correspondence: – carried.
That the subscriptions should be increased: – rejected.
That the Secretary (Mr. F Bourne) should be elected Vice President to recognise his continued work since the birth of the ODAA in 1931: – carried.

Despite the threat of hostilities, the ODAA seems to have carried on as usual, the dates for its two annual competitions being set for the 2nd July at Broomwood (now referred to as Cray Lake) and 27th August at Newenden on the Rother. However there was for the first time a departure from purely in house events. A special competition was held on the 23rd July when by means of an entrance fee of 2 shilling?, 3 pounds 17 shillings (£3.85) was raised for the Cray Valley Hospital, perhaps there was a junior fee which accounted for the odd shilling. The association presented a rod to the winner Mr. Scott.

During the summer months, committee meetings were held at the waterside and it was very rare for there to be less than full attendance. The July meeting decided that due to the number of times that the access gate had been left unlocked (nothing changes), any future case would result in the guilty party being suspended for one month.

The winner of the Bruce Cup was declared to be Mr. Hall, his haul of 8 Gudgeon and 1 Roach having earned 9 points, Mr. Morgan was the runner up with 6 points for Roach; it is worth noting that until very many years later, only fish which reached or exceeded specified lengths were acceptable in competitions. If my memory serves me correctly example of minimum sizes were: Roach 8 inches Gudgeon 5 inches Tench 1O inches etc. So a 1O inch Roach used to earn the captor 3 points. Mr. Hall’s fish must have just made the minimum.

At their meeting of the 20th September 1939, the committee faced up to the grave situation, which affected all walks of life in the UK. Under the heading “The Association’s positions in wartime”, the following was written in the records:

Its was unanimously agreed that whatever the position will be, the Association will carry on and those remaining will keep the waters on by a collection between them. Those members called for military service will remain on the register. This decision was notified to all members by letter.

The winner of the Club Cup for 1939 was Mr. Wood and Mr. Cardozo was the runner up.

At the February committee meeting it was agreed to settle the account of 5 pounds 11 shillings for ‘Rother Licenses’. It is not clear whether the Rother Fisheries Association as we know it existed but there was certainly some connection between the ODAA and a licensing body.

The 1940 AGM was held at the White Hart in Orpington on the 13th June, the main topics covered were as follows :

All cups be retained by the Secretary and kept in a place of safety until the end of the war.
No cup competitions to be held until further notice.
Gudeon should be banned from competition.
The committee should be reduced from 8 to 6 members for the time being. Those elected were Messrs West, Holmes, Kemp, Richards, Hunter and Nicholls.
That a member can take a member of the services for a day’s fishing free of charge, that member being responsible for the conduct of the guest.
All of the above were carried unanimously.

N.B. Despite the smaller size of the committee, the Orpington area continued to be strewn with shrapnel, spent cartridge cases and people ejected from the ODAA for breaches of the Associations rules. Pollution reared its ugly head in July 1940. The first case being that caused by the Parchments Mills upstream of Broomwood, there is no clear indication of what form it took but through continued pressure by Mr Bourne (secretary) a considerable improvement was seen by December. No further mention is recorded.
At the 10th AGM held at the White Hart on the 12th June 1941, the Association began to be affected by the war, Mr. Nicholls having been called for service in HM forces, his replacement on the committee was Mr. Whitlock. No doubt there were other members who though not mentioned had also been called for duty.

A proposed match against Vickers Sports Association was not proceeded with because the membership considered that matches were ‘not in the interest of the Association’. The vote was 5 in favor and 50 against so it would appear that the ODAA had quite a few members at that stage.

Mr R Hunter was elected Vice President at the AGM, he and the secretary were the only two of the original 1931 members still with the ODAA.

Despite the decision not to hold matches against other clubs, the previous in house competition in aid of the Cray Valley Hospital was repeated on the 20th July 1941. There were 50 entries and 6 pounds 11 shillings (£6.55) was raised, Mr Watson won the match and was presented with a fishing rod Regrettably some short time later, Pilot Officer Watson was reported ‘Missing on Operations’



Since 2006