John Andrews’ vintage fishing tackle stall at London’s Spitalfields Market harks back to my grandfather’s era, and before, with a range of coarse, game and sea angling items from an age of cane, brass and oiled leather; a welcome antidote to today’s world of carbon fibre, fluorocarbon and neoprene.
The pick of the items when I visited one Thursday morning were three bread bait presses designed by Lesney, a die-casting company responsible for the Matchbox brand of toys and a company with local connections to the Capital having been, at one time, the largest employer in the London Borough of Hackney, sadly now long since closed and largely forgotten. These beautifully engineered pillar box red items were designed to clamp bread into compressed hook baits that then expanded in the water should be a must have item for any self-respecting mullet angler with a hint of nostalgia.
If these don’t float your boat a shark fishing book from the early 1960s will give you a window into a world of red-blooded machismo and angling razzmatazz when men were men and magnificent sharks such as makos and porbeagles were regularly brought ashore by trophy hunters. Something about big game fishing in the UK obviously attracted military types in the post war period as it is Brigadier J.A.L. Counter, following in Colonel Lorenzo Mitchell-Henry’s footsteps, who leads us through a bygone era of angling in his book “Shark Angling In Great Britain”.
My eye was also drawn to one of the satisfyingly solid pin badges that I like to imagine were worn with pride by their original owners, whether they belonged to the Shark Angling Club of Great Britain or the Southend Amateur Angling Society (S.A.A.S).
As well as hawking his wonderful angling artifacts at Spitalfields John organises the National Vintage Tackle Fair, the most recent of which was held in Ridditch on May 19th with the next one in November. If you find yourself in the capital of a Thursday and need a fix of fishing chat and tackle nostalgia I suggest you make your way to Spitalfields and say hello. Alternatively, your presence is requested at Farlows on Pall Mall in London’s West End on Wednesday 12th of June where Andrews of Arcadia’s vintage fishing tackle for the soul will be appearing for the day. You’d be a fool to miss it.
John Andrews has contributed to, amongst others, Waterlog and Classic Angling magazines.