Riverside Angling Club

The Latest News

Welcome to Riverside's latest news board. Here you'll see our latest information thats distributed across to all our members, regarding all current issues within and outside the club.
Please click on expand bulletin to read the articles beneath. The most recent article is at the top of the page.

In Memory of Terry Thomas

In 2018, we lost our dear friend and club stalwart, Terry Thomas. It is not too strong a statement to say that, without Terry, the Riverside Angling Club would not exist. Always willing, always selflessly hard-working on our behalves, always cheerful; we all miss Terry and remain grateful for all that he has done for us. In 1967 Terry became secretary of the angling club when it was part of the Ekco Sports and Social Club, continuing this role until 2010. He then became Chairman of the forerunner of the modern Angling Club, which was renamed Riverside Angling Club in 2005. Terry retired as Club Chairman in 2016. In honour of Terry’s great contributions and in his memory, we have presented Terry’s three children and their families with a lifetime membership of Riverside Angling Club.


Terry Thomas 1

Terry Thomas 2Terry Thomas 3Terry Thomas 4Terry Thomas 5Terry Thomas 6Terry Thomas 7Terry Thomas 8

2015 AGM

Apologies. Justin Scutt, Mark Everard, Andy Bishop, John Phnatis, Bob Tatum, Bryan Jones, Sid Jevons, Frank Segrave-Daley. Present. John Wright, Martin Ward, Terry Thomas, Bob Karn, Mike Bowness, Andy Walden, Alan Jones, Ian Oliver, John Adye, Steve Leonard, Neil Chapman, Howard Brown, Dan Wood. Minutes 2014 Read Approved. Proposed. Bob Karn. Seconded. Martin Ward. Chairman’s Report.

Terry thanked everyone for coming and Frank Segrave –Daley for kindly letting us use his premises for the meeting. Terry advised us that he had secured the fishing on our two new stretches for this season with the fees remaining as before. Terry reports that there have been problems with the flow of water over the weir. This has been in part as a result of the gates above the mill pond being left open. The management of these gates is not the responsibility of the club. The E.A. and Malmesbury Town Council have this responsibility. They have been advised of the situation. Members who see any problems with the gates are encouraged to contact the EA or Town Council direct.

The river on our stretch that runs down -stream from Cowbridge across two fields has a new owner. Terry has met his manager. The result of which means that things are as they before we still have the fishing rights over the river and will carry on in the same way. Work carried at the new cattle drink by the boulder dam is now complete. In addition B.A.R.T have completed work on the river bed on the gravel stretch by placing two large logs to act as river diverters in the hope they will improve the spawning habitat. Terry thanked Andy Walden and Dan Wood.

Terry also announced that after being associated with the club for 50 years he would be stepping down as chairman at next year’s AGM. Vice Chairman’s report. Dan Wood our vice chair stated he had nothing to add to Terry's report. Secretary/Treasure’s Report. Accounts for 2014 presented and approved. Proposed. Steve Leonard. Seconded. Howard Brown. Andy Walden thanked Terry and Dan for all they done on behalf of the club. Dan has had a busy year sorting out the river improvements, applying for grants and liaising with landowners. Terry has as usual been busy keeping in contact with owners, monitoring the river and dealing with problems. Andy stated that there is a lot of work done on behalf of members that is not reported and it is this that keeps the club going. With regard to club officials and in view of Terry’s announcement, members would have to identify people who could and would stand for those positions. He also said that he would offer his services as secretary/treasurer for two more years and then stand down.

The club is financially stable. As the accounts show we have had expenditure on some big projects which are all now complete. The club however must look to the future and plan accordingly. This is why club fees have been included on the minutes. We currently have 33 Adult members, 18 senior members, and 4 juniors. Election of officers. Chairman. Terry Thomas. Proposed John Wright. Seconded. Martin ward. Vice Chairman. Dan Wood. Proposed John Wright. Seconded. Steve Leonard. Secretary/Treasurer. Andy Walden. Proposed. Howard Brown. Seconded. Alan Jones. Four others volunteered as a working committee. Howard Brown, Alan Jones, John Wright and Martin Ward. Club Fees. After a lengthy discussion the following was proposed by Ian Oliver and seconded by Martin Ward. An increase in fees as follows from Jan 1st 2016. Adult £30 (now £20). Seniors £15 (now £8) with junior’s remaining the same at £5. The club wishes to attract younger members. The £20 joining fee will remain for new members. A vote was taken. 12 for. 1 against. Alan Jones raised the issue of disabled applicants wishing to join. He will look into this and report back. Andy Walden stated that a form would go out with permits in 2016 asking members to complete with up-dated personal details so the club records can be amended for any changes. Website. It was agreed to keep it. Minutes of this meeting will be posted on it.

New Members. The club introduced a new way of applying for membership via our website. The following four applications were considered and approved. Mick Saunders, Jamie Cooper, Andrew Rudduck and Alan Titcombe. A.O.B Each person attending was invited to raise any issues. John Wright was concerned about parking and felt it was limited. No one else at the meeting had had problems so no further action will be taken at this point. Mike Bowness requested that any work done to fallen trees should take into account protection for fish against predators. Affiliation with Anglers Trust was discussed Terry Thomas will look into it and report back. Bob Tatum via an email was concerned about the water levels over the weir and through the mill pond where during the winter the area was un-fishable. These matters as stated before rest with the EA and Town Council as they relate to the gates controlled by them. Bob also wanted to know if the barb wire in the field above the road could be removed to help access. Members felt this should be left alone at present but that new protection should be fitted to reduce snagging. Terry closed the meeting at 8.30pm.



As most of you are aware, the club has now completed a project to install fencing along the river bank and build a new cattle drink. We had a very clear objective for this project; to restore a small section of river which had become degraded by cattle poaching, to benefit the farmer and to help the wildlife. Now that the river bank has been fenced, the cattle can drink safely and are no longer at risk of falling into the river, the vegetation will grow back, and the gravel on the river bed will not be subjected to pollution and siltation. The restoration work will not just benefit fish, but a whole range of wildlife, including insect life (mayflies, caddisflies), and birds such as kingfishers. We also hope to see some fish spawning activity in the near future, by gravel-spawning species such as barbel, trout and grayling. Please keep a look-out for any fish spawning activity next year and let us know if you spot anything. Next year, we plan to install some flow deflectors into the river bed. These are wooden logs which are pinned to the river bed in 'v' shape. They will help to clean out the gravel to encourage the fish to spawn.


Please find below photographs showing the issues caused by cattle poaching, and photographs taken after the work had been completed.

cattle drink 5

cattle drink 4cattle drink 6cattle drink 2cattle drink 2


Dear members. Can I wish all members season greetings. The club has had a very productive year, having completed all the work that we intended to do to improve a stretch of the river Avon. The new fencing and cattle drink look fantastic and been achieved as a result of a lot of hard work by Dan Wood and Terry Thomas. This work sets the club up well for the future and will hopefully be the start of future river improvements. I hope all members will be able to visit the river and see for themselves what has been achieved. I would again urge all members to try and use the web site and up date Dan with any fishing information. As we approach the end of the year the fees for 2015 are due on 1st January 2015. They remain the same as last year. Adults £20. Seniors (over 65) £8 and Juniors (under 15) £5. Please forward to me at 11 Manor Close, Sherston Wilts SN16 0NS. Cheques payable to RIVERSIDE ANGLING CLUB. Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope this helps me to return your membership card quickly. Can I remind all members that the club rules are shown on the website and must be adhered to at all times while fishing club waters. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Andy Walden



Members, the club has had a busy summer. As you may have seen, new fencing has been erected south of Cowbridge near the boulder dam. This has been done to protect the river from cattle and bank erosion. The final stage will be a cattle drink that hopefully will be completed this year. The club through Dan Wood our vice chairman has negotiated grants and put in a lot of hard work to get this work done. This has been a co-ordinated project involving the land owners, Bristol Avon Rivers Trust, local authority and ourselves. The work has been funded by a grant, and the club. Without the co operation of these organisations and Dan coordinating the work and applying for grants the protection of the stretch of river concerned would not have been done. The club has hopefully helped protect this area and in turn encouraged a habitat whereby wildlife can thrive, thus benefiting not only the club but the local community. I hope all members will visit the site and see what has been achieved. I would like to thank Derek Doel and Christopher Edwards the land owners, B.A.R.T for their advice, donation and continuing support, Terry our chairman whose has been liaising with landowners and contractors and Dan Wood who has led this project and done such a brilliant job. The Riverside Angling Club will continue to look at ways of improving the river Avon on our waters and where we can carry out work to improve the habitat in a natural way. Andy Walden Hon Sec


LATEST NEWS: Membership fees now due for 2014

Dear members. Just a quick reminder that 2014 membership fees are now due as from 1st Jan for the forthcoming season. The fees are the same as last year, cheques payable to Riverside Angling Club. Please can you include a stamped addressed envelope as this helps in returning documents quickly. Andy has ordered new permits in the shape of a small wallet size card which will be easier to carry, he is waiting for these to arrive from the printers so don't be alarmed if you have paid (as some have already) and have not received anything. As soon as Andy has them he will get them out. He doesn't intend to send out a copy of club rules or a map of our fishing rights as these are shown on the website. Kind regards


Mill Sluice Gates


Sluice Gates above Mill Pond.

Dear members. Many of you may be aware that the sluice gates above the mill pond have recently been opened to assist with the heavy rainfall. The operation of these gates is done by Malmesbury Town Council in conjunction with the owners Mintons. Riverside Angling Club has no responsibility for the operation of these gates. If members are asked they should refer the person(s) to the Town Council, Mintons or the E A. Any other matter concerning flood relief should be referred to the E.A. I hope this makes it clear for everyone. It is important that this is made clear so that any problems that arise are directed to the organisations responsible. Andy Walden.




Story by Dr Mark Everard.

One of the mysteries of the Riverside Angling Club stretch is the paucity of barbel that have fallen to our rods over the decades. Back in the good old days when river flows were stronger and clearer, barbel were often seen in the streamy section by the lower fields.

However, although I've had the odd barbel feeding on my groundbait, like many of us I have signally failed to sink a look into one as a chub always got there first! And, of course, let's not forget all of the trouble Terry back then to arrange two stockings of juvenile barbel.

But alas, the barbel have resolutely stayed hidden in the depths rather than visiting us on the bank! Well, are we set for a change of fortune? Because, in a short session on the afternoon of Friday 20th September 2013, I was trotting a maggot or two in the bend below the cobble weir, only to catch an unusual-looking specimen. As good fortune would have it, particularly as one rarely sees another sole on our bank, Andy Walden was also out fishing nearby. In fact, I had already taken him down below Roaring Hatches to show him the results of where I had led a team of volunteers to do some habitat improvement work only a couple of days earlier. (More on that in another posting on the website I think!)

Holding the fish up for Andy to take a photo may not have taxed my muscles unduly, but I'm overjoyed to have caught a barbel from our waters and particularly a small one! Since no stockings have taken place here in many a long year, to catch a fish this small suggests that there has been successful spawning nearby in recent years.

The club barbel record? Who knows. So few reports are made formally, so perhaps anyone who has caught a number of barbel, particularly larger ones, could get in touch to let us know. Hunting for Riverside barbel may not distract me from my primary preoccupations of roach and dace, but I'm just so pleased to have caught one of these elusive whiskers after over twenty years fishing our waters!


Mark Everard Barbel



Warning from Bob Tatum about cows.

"Hi Andy, Just to say that I tried fishing the new fields on 17/06/13 and it is very difficult. The top field has 6 to 8 large black cattle and they targeted my friend Bryan, and even when he put his brolley up they kept trying to push it over. He eventually moved and they stayed where he had been, so I think in time they will get used to people and not be such a problem. We then moved to the lower field where it is impossible as there are about 60 young heifers including a few large ones. This time they targeted me, they are just curious but wouldn't go away and kept moving forward, eventually I had to keep them backing up with a couple of banksticks while Bryan moved my kit to the bridge. The problem is they come up behind you about three deep then the back one mounts the middle one which pushes him into the front one and the front one darts forward. This was happening continually and is dangerous as they could knock you over or into the river. I am telling you this as you can warn other members as it could be very dangerous for anyone who is a bit infirm or has a youngster with them. I feel that the top field will be okay when the cattle get used to people being there, but as for the bottom field I can't see any solution". Bob Tatem.




New fields for fishing club.

I can confirm that Terry has now secured the rights to the two new fields for our fishing club, which is great news. For more information, Click on the 'Where to Fish' link at the top of the page. The new fields are marked with RED DOTS on the map. There is also some updated information regarding access to the fields.




Riverside Angling Club Meeting Minutes 5th June 2013.

Present: Terry Thomas, Andy Walden, Dan Wood, Howard Brown, Bob Tatum, Bryan Jones, Andy Bishop, John Adye, Alan Sizer, John Wright, Alan Jones, Bob Karn, Mike Bowness, Steve Leonard, Martin Ward, Mark Everard

Apologies: Peter Vanhinsburgh, Peter Slade, Sid Jevons, Ian Mock.

Chairman's Report
Terry Thomas Hon. Club chairman thanked everyone for attending. He reported that he was in negotiation to acquire the fishing rights to two stretches of the River Avon. I this is successful it would give the club the stretch of river from the by-pass bridge to the Cowbridge Weir. With fishing allowed on the left hand bank as you view from the bridge. If things go well we could have these stretches in time for the new season. Terry will keep us advised. He also said that this meeting had been called so that members can discuss the clubs future. He did though raise concerns about the drop in members fishing the club waters. He thanked Dan Wood for running the club website and expressed his desire to see it continue and Andy Walden for his work as secretary.

Treasurer/Secretary Report
Andy Walden Hon. club secretary presented the clubs accounts for 2012 which show the club to have healthy bank balance. Expenditure in respect of insurance and internet was outlined. The club has at present 52 members. Fees for annual permit are Adults £20, Seniors (over 65) £8 and Juniors (under 15) £5. A £20 joining fee applies to new members. A waiting list operates and is reviewed each year in January when annual fees are paid. All members who have e-mail are asked to notify the club as it is the best way to communicate information.

Andy thanked Terry for his work as chairman, Dan Wood for his work on the website and Martin Ward for helping with maintenance work.

Election of Officers

Terry Thomas and Andy Walden we re-elected with no other nominations to their respective roles. Mark Everard nominated and Mike Bowness seconded both positions.

A new position of vice chairman was created with Dan Wood offering to stand he was nominated and seconded by Mark and Mike and duly elected.

Four other committee members were elected Martin Ward, Alan Jones, Howard Brown and John Wright. Their remit is to sort out work that is required and organise work parties.

Future of the club
Parking was discussed and Terry reported that the sign on the club car park was missing. Enquiries had been made with Mintons and Redrow the site owners with no result. The meeting agreed that there was adequate parking and that a present we would not pursue the matter. It was agreed that the club did not want to create a problem with local residents.

Encouraging younger members to join was discussed with the club offering a priority to juniors who join with an adult/ senior member.

Mark Everard thanked the club for its management of the river, saying he was pleased that we do not over manage it which in turn provides good swims.
Club Website.

It was agreed that the club should continue to have a website. Hopefully this would encourage new younger members to join the club. Andy Walden and Dan Wood asked all members to have more input with photographs and accounts of fishing stories/catches.

Any Other Business 
Mark Everard told us about the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust which was set up last year by Ian Mock, Sid Jevons and Mark. They focus on habitat and how it can be improved. This involves relationships with clubs and land owners. The trust itself does not have direct funds but may be able to assist with grant applications.

John Wright raised the issue of the joining on fee (£20) he proposed it was reduced to £10 no one seconded this motion so it remains at £20.

Andy Bishop spoke about poachers and reminded us all to be aware. It was felt that it should be left to individual club members to monitor and deal with as they think appropriate.

Terry Thomas asked about appointing bailiffs for the club, it was felt that all members could act in this capacity. Reporting incidents to the EA helps build up a picture of this problem. Recording Index numbers of suspicious vehicles is very useful. The EA number is 0800 80 70 60.

Club permits. It was suggested we change our permits so that they incorporate a photo of the member, Andy will look into this and assess costs etc.

The club website will be up-dated with the new fishing as and when it happens.

Terry outlined the parking for the new stretches of river this will be made clear on the website.

Work that is carried out on the river by the club will be done in consultation with Dan Wood and Mark Everard, using their expertise.

With no other items Terry closed the meeting at 9PM.

LATEST NEWS 11th May 2013

Fishing Club meeting. Members only. 7.30pm on Wednesday 5th June 2013 at The Red Bull Public House Malmesbury. Each member has been sent a letter or e-mail with an agenda. Andy Walden Hon Sec


Dear members. Just a couple of things can I ask those of you who have not yet renewed your membership to please do so as soon as possible. I have recently sent out reminders by post. If you do not wish to renew can you let me know as we have a long waiting list. It helps me if members can up-date me if they have an email addresses or have changed an existing one. I would encourage members to contribute to the site with tales of fishing and any interesting photos. The response so far has been disappointing with no entries for sometime. Our website is visited and I get many enquires about joining hence we have a long waiting list. Part of your membership fee goes to paying for the website and it can be very useful for promoting the fishing club but we do need some input from members, these do not have to be long reports just few lines will do to let others know how the river is fishing and what is being caught. This is of particular interest now and may be important in the future as weather and climate patterns change. It would be great if you can contribute. Thanks for taking time to read this. Tight lines. Andy Walden Hon Sec


Dear members. Can I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year and a reminder that the fees for 2013 will be due on 1st January. The fees are the same as last year. Please send to me at my home address, it helps me if you can include a stamped addressed envelope so that I can return your permits promptly. I hope you enjoyed some fishing this year in spite of the dreadful weather, hopefully things will improve in 2013. Andy Walden Hon Sec.


The Riverside Angling Club has a full membership at present and we will not be taking any more new members this year (2012). I do operate a waiting list which is currently quite long, if you wish to join the club please send me your full details, email address and contact numbers.

Andy Walden


The season is about to start again, and anyone who has ventured down to the river recently will see high levels of water after all the rain. The river looks in very good condition and free at this stage from all the weed that we had last year. Martin Ward (thanks) and I have been down and cleared out the main fishing spots, so access should not be difficult. I hope all members enjoy the fishing this year. Again I would encourage anyone with photos or fishing tales to send them to Dan so they can go on the website. Can I ask that members are vigilant and check out persons fishing who they don’t know/recognise as club members. Make sure you have your fishing licence and club permit with you to avoid any problems. If members find any litter can I ask that they pick it up. (Large items, let me know so that I arrange disposal). If members encounter any other problems affecting the club please let me know.

Thanks for taking time to read this, tight lines.

Andy Walden

19th March 2012

With spring coming and the course river fishing season closing it will be interesting to see how the river fairs this year. We have had very low rainfall over the winter months and I have not seen our river so low for many years. I was away recently in the South East and saw first hand the problems affecting that area, one reservior was barely a third full. The website is going well and has some interesting photos and articles about the history of the club, thanks to Terry for the reports and pictures. I urge members to use it and add to the information. I am sure there are some interesting tales so lets have them on the site. I have noticed a big improvement with dog owners clearing up after their pets, I think the signs put up by Redrow have helped along with the fencing around some areas of the bank. It is important that the club works with the local residents over issues like this. After all its to every ones benefit. I would encourage members to visit the river during the close season if not to cast a fly for trout but to check the river and report back any problems. I personally cannot get down there as much as I would like and would appreciate others keeping an eye on it. Over the coming months I will keep in contact with the EA and monitor the weed growth. I know that residents living close by will be doing the same, so should we have a similar problem to last year we can between us and the owners hopefully sort it out. If you have any views or ideas on the club/fishing please let me know.
I wish you all well.
Andy Walden Hon Sec.

March 2012: Power Cables Warning...

The club would like all anglers to be aware of the dangers of overhead power lines when fishing. Every year there is a story in the angling press about someone being killed by touching an overhead power line with their fishing rod or pole. Rods and poles are excellent conductors of electricity, therefore do not take the risk of fishing too close to an overhead power line. Many thanks. Riverside Angling Club

High Voltage Symbol

The Stocking of Barbel...

Here are some photos Terry has kindly provided which relate to a previous news article about the club stocking barbel into the river a while back...

Barbel Intro 1

Barbel Intro 2

Barbel Intro 3

The Collapse of Cowbridge Weir...

Here is a story by Terry Thomas about the collapse of Cowbridge Weir a few years back...

"One sunday when walking the river downstream of Cowbridge on the Swindon Road, I noticed the river suddenly increased in flow and turned a muddy brown. I thought someone had opened the hatches by the mill pool, so I went to have a look.

When I arrived at the hatches I found them still down, so I thought it was very strange. I then walked up to Cowbridge Weir and discovered that the water had worked its way through, and burst the dam, which began to empty the river up to Malmesbury Town. I went to report it, then I fetched my camera and took a few photos.

You can see by the photos how the weir was breached. The third photo shows the river when water level had dropped. the weir had to be completely re-built".

T.Thomas, Hon. Chairman.

Weir Collapse Photo 1

Weir Collpase Photo 2

Weir Collapse Photo 3

The Creation of the Boulder Dam...

I had the pleasure of listening to some of Terry's stories about the river last weekend. This is one that he gave me about the boulder dam.

"During the 90's, in my opinion, water companies were pumping too much water from the underground reservoirs in the Malmesbury area. They would not admit that this was causing low water flow in the River Avon. A water monitoring scheme was set up to be independantly administered by W.S. Atkins. A number of river monitors were recruited to check the river levels on a regular basis, at different points in the Malmesbury area, and report them back to W.S. Atkins.

This information was then compared to the information from the water companies, as to when they were pumping water away from the area. It was found that when water was beiing pumped, it did affect the river level, and in one case the Spring at Daniel's Well stopped running - probably for the very first time. So, it was proved that pumping did affect the river level.

The water companies the decided to pump less water from this area, and also put in compensation boreholes to pump water from a deeper level into the river to increase the flow. Because of the low flows in the Cowbridge Area, it was noticed we had a large increase in weed growth, due to the river being very shallow.

When I looked at the few options to help the situation, I decided the best way to deal with the problem was to build a boulder dam, downstream of Cowbridge. This would increase the depth of the water, so slowing excessive weed growth. After discussion with the various authorities it was decided to proceed. The river bed was tested and found to be very soft. This would create a problem because the water would try to work its way under and around any obstruction put in the river.

After some thought, it was decided to use the large redundant concrete blocks that were resting on the river bank as a strong base for the boulder dam. After they were carefully placed in the river bed, the banks were also cut-into, and the concrete blocks were let into the bank on each side, so the river would not try to work its way around the edges. The blocks were then topped with large boulders, and sealed with gravel infill.

It seemed to work quite well, and increased the depth of the river by about 1.5 metres. With the increased depth, the weed growth was reduced right back up to Cowbridge Weir". Terry Thomas, Hon Chairman.

Boulder Dam

Latest News (January 27th 2012)

Here is a recent picture of a storm-damaged willow taken by Terry Thomas, just downstream of the Mill Pond. The recent weather has put some good flow and colour into the river. A temperature drop is expected but the hardy angler may prevail!

A storm-damaged tree

December 2011 (1)

Dear Members..

Following my last bulletin regarding the weed problem, I have been in contact with the EA who have in turn been in communication with the riparian owners who are legally responsible for the maintaining the river and its banks. The EA has advised them of what needs doing and how it should be done. Hopefully next spring the weed problems will be tackled and the fishing/habitat will improve. It is important for the club that we work with the EA, local residents and the owners so that river remains healthy.

Andy Walden (Hon Sec)

December 2011 (2)

With November passing quickly and very little rain to fill the rivers, the seasons are very confused. I don't think I have ever seen the river so low at this time of year, and with plants still growing its a complete contrast to last year when we were frozen up with snow on the ground.

On the last bulletin I talked about the weed problems and on going efforts to sort this out, at this time I have nothing to add and am waiting for a decision on who is actually responsible. As soon as there are any developments I will let you know.

Thanks to Dan for doing a splendid job with the website, I hope members will find it interesting and add to it. It is for you and will only progress and grow with input from you. There must be plenty of fishing tales and perhaps some photo’s too, don’t be shy, send them into Dan so they can go on the site.

As another year closes can I remind members that renewals are due on 1st Jan 2012, the fees are the same as last year and are shown on our website. All cheques made payable to Riverside Angling Club and sent to me. Can I request that members include a stamped address envelope this makes it easier for me to send out the new permits.

I would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy new Year.

Andy Walden (Hon Sec)

A History of the club...


When l started my apprenticeship, as a toolmaker at EKCO in 1956, the factory next to the river Avon in Malmesbury, little did l know that in 2011 l would be still helping to look after the fishing club, at Cowbridge, after all those years.

It all began when l made friends with Stan Woodman, a ministry, mechanical inspector, on site at the factory who was a very keen fisherman and Hon Secretary of the angling club at that time, which was part of the Ekco Sports and Social Club. The club had various activities at that time and fishing was one of them.

Stan had a certain way of involving the fishing club members in all the various tasks, litter picking, weed cutting, etc. he would say, see you on Sunday 10am, and you would be there.

Being a keen member of the fishing club myself Stan and l used to talk a lot about the River Avon, what was in it, what fish he would like to see in the river, Barbel for instance, and over the next few years l learned quite a lot from him, little did l know he was grooming me to take over from him when he retired, he did not tell me this until much later when he did leave Ekco.

Stan was a very clever man and he also had the ability to look forward and l remember him telling me his thoughts regarding climate change and the effects acid rain might have on the river system, all this in 1960 and now showing he was not far wrong, l can only hope l took on board some of his ideas and thoughts during that time and subsequently, over the past 45years as Secretary, put them into practice.

I took over from Stan as Secretary in 1967 and continued through until 2010 when Andy Walden took over from me, l asked Andy to take over because l knew him as a good friend a very keen fisherman and someone l knew would bring fresh ideas to a thriving club, our new website is a good example, to keep my close association with the club as you will see by the above l am now Hon. Club Chairman.

The company changed hands many times during my working years on the Ekco site, First of all Ekco was taken over in 1960 by Pye Ltd. and in 1969 it changed to Pye T.M.C. Ltd., T.M.C. stood for telephone manufacturing company, producing telephone exchange equipment, at about this time many research and development personnel were relocated to Malmesbury. l was trained as a toolmaker and as each different company took over there always seemed to be a vacancy for me in one of their engineering departments, l finished up in the model making department for T.M.C. l often wondered if l was useful to them or they missed me on their radar because l stayed on the Ekco site until 1986 a total of 29years 10 months, l then left and joined Bohan Engineering at Calne making special purpose machinery for the printed circuit industry until l retired in 2006.

When l left the site in 1986 AT&T, An American company took over, l still had close contact with personnel on site so l spoke to their social club and they asked me to continue to look after the fishing, after some time AT&T decided to form another company on site which was called Lucent Technologies l again worked with their social club and managed to persuade them to let me continue running the angling club, due to the economic situation they then decided to move from Malmesbury and sell their site to Mintons, a development company, they then moved their H.Q. to Swindon, it made a little bit awkward because l then had to travel to Swindon to check the books etc. while the negotiations for the sale were taking place, it was during this time that l met Maureen Driver site asset manager for Mintons and with her great help managed to retain the fishing rights, so once again the fishing cub was safe, it was then decided to rename the club and the Riverside Angling Club it was formed in 2005.

Although most of the site was sold for housing development Mintons still own parts of the site, Cedar House on the left as you come into the main entrance is one example.

There have been many interesting happenings over the years, first of all l ought to mention a pollution which happened in 1969. On the Ekco site at that time was an electro plating shop, many types of plating took place including Nickel, Gold, Silver, etc. the articles to be plated were mounted on copper wire and suspended in vats containing various chemicals and then had an electrical charge put through them which then transfered the Gold, Silver, or whatever, to the immersed item, the plating shop was right next to the river and when the vats had been used many times they had to refilled with a fresh mixture, the exhausted solution was then pumped into a large retaining tank and treated with various other chemicals to render the mixture harmless, it was then discharged into the river, you could see it was an accident waiting to happen, and it did, someone forgot to treat the mixture and it was discharged into the river, the first time l realized something was wrong when l looked in the river at lunchtime that day and saw thousands of fry on the surface just above the old hatches, the river had turned silver, l thought it was lack of oxygen due to low flow at first, l then spoke to my boss Joe McColl and explained the situation to him and we decided to inform the river authority and ask them to look into the problem, when they came they soon came to the conclusion that a pollution had taken place and a cocktail of chemicals, including cyanide had entered the river, the biggest problem with this type of pollution is that it is not only fish that are killed all other river life that come into contact with the pollutant are also destroyed, Crayfish, Water Boatman, Mayfly Nymphs being just a few.

A few months prior to this happening Stan Woodman and myself had heard about a Trout stream near Reading where the local angling club were going to electro fish their river to remove coarse fish including Barbel, knowing Barbel were very sought after we both agreed it would be a good idea to help with the electro fishing and in return, with the help of the river authority, bring some Barbel back to Malmesbury, it was a successful operation and we brought back about thirty fish to 8lb, unfortunately most if not all were killed in the pollution. After this it was always in my mind to introduce Barbel once more to our river, more later on this matter.

It took many years for the river to fully recover, restocking the river with Trout, Grayling, perch, Roach we managed to gradually bring the river back to its former glory, there is a photo l took of some of the fish killed in the pollution laid out by our old angling hut, it is attached to this article, you will see Barbel to about 8lb, Roach to 2lb 8oz, Perch to 1lb 10oz and Pike to nearly 20lb we were all close to tears at the site of these dead fish.

In 1970 A friend of mine, Mike Amey, who worked for the then Bristol Avon River Authority, was trying to breed Barbel, and as l said before Stan and myself were very keen to introduce this breed into the Avon at Malmesbury, so we were very keen to see how his results were going, we were pleased to see a short while later his picture in the paper as he was the fist person to successfully rear Barbel, artificially, see attached photo. Because of the difficulty in buying Barbel it was a long time before l was able to fulfill the dream of stocking our river with these fish, l was able to obtain some surplus from Calverton Fish Farm, l got to know the employees who worked there and they kept me informed as to when some might be available, the first Barbel became available in 1997 and l bought 400 fish 12 to 15 cm. the second batch was bought in 2000, 550 fish 15 to 18 cm. so my promise to Stan Woodman was realized.

One or two Barbel are still caught on our water but most have moved downstream on to the Somerford stretch but l still have the satisfaction of knowing that the prime fish caught there started life at Cowbridge on our waters.

Terry Thomas

More to follow!

October 2011

As members will be aware the river from the weir down the stretch by the new houses and through the mill pond has seen a prolific growth of weeds this year. In some areas this growth has made fishing impossible. The club has been in contact with the EA with a view to sorting this out. On the 29th September Terry and myself met representatives form the EA and showed them the problems, concentrating primarily on the areas mentioned. They agree with our findings on the state of the river. The issue is not straight forward for many reasons mainly as to who is responsible for dealing with the problem. The club neither has the full resources or equipment to tackle this alone and in some areas this may involve dredging. Spraying can be done but is subject to many conditions and will involve careful planning. The EA is not responsible for flood matters and only fund river improvements where habitat and other improvements are met. This is something that is being looked into and the club is examining how we can get some funding through the EA to do this. At present we are on a list where improvement schemes are considered. This is of course subject to financial constraints and meeting strict criteria. The club would have to fund/assist with any improvements in a sort of joint partnership. The challenge for a club as small as ours is not going to be easy, but I feel that it is very worthwhile.

I have been contacted by residents living close to the river who are also very concerned about the state it is in. They have been advised to contact the EA and complain. This will hopefully assist the club and show the impact the river has not just on us members but on the local environment. The residents are aware of the clubs position and how limited it is. To give you some idea of the extent of the problem myself and another member Martin Ward spent over 4 hours this summer in the main mill pond trying to clear the weeds, we pulled out a mass of weeds. At the end we looked over what we had done and could see little improvement. This convinced me that only a proper approach co-ordinated with other organisations will address this problem. I hope members will support the club in trying to sort this out as it it to the benefit of us all. I accept that the weed problem will take some time to deal with. Hopefully when it is under control a program can be set up to prevent this happening again.

On a positive note the back stretch that was cleared last year has been flowing freely and looks in a much healthier state.

Andy Walden (Hon Sec)


Please find below photographs showing the excessive weed growth in the mill stream.

Examples of weed growth in the mill stream

Examples of weed growth in the mill stream

December 2010

I hope you have had a good year and enjoyed your fishing. This letter outlines the efforts we have made during 2010 to improve our stretch of the river. You may have noticed the work that has been carried out on the back stretch, between the weir and the road bridge; a number of fallen trees have been pulled out, cut up and removed. This has greatly improved the flow of the river and will hopefully enhance your fishing.

Further work has been undertaken to clear and maintain areas of the banks, improving access to the river. Additionally, covers have been put on the barbed wire at these locations to prevent injuries. As most members will be aware, the main problem that concerns us is weed growth, which affects the mill pond in particular. We have a new member of the club who is licensed to spray the river and has very kindly offered to tackle this problem. We plan to spray next Spring/Summer and are confident that this will improve the river/fishing dramatically.

A number of members have asked how they can help. With the new houses and greater activity around the river, I have noticed an increase in rubbish being dropped, so can I ask members who find litter that if possible they dispose of it themselves, or let me know so that I can get it collected. When we cleared the back stretch a trailer full of old bottles, cans and bags was collected and taken to the tip! Tidying up and generally checking helps to keep the banks clean. I can sort out the bigger jobs that require chainsaws, lifting equipment and chains. I don’t want anyone injuring themselves trying to do jobs without the proper tools or safety equipment. Checking who is fishing is also important, as we no doubt have fishermen who are not members. Judging by the number of people I meet wanting to join the club, interest in our stretch of river is growing.

The club has just over sixty members, comprising of juniors, adults and seniors. If you have any suggestions regarding either the fishing or other aspects of the club, please let me know. This year your fees have paid for new signs, club insurance for all members and equipment for maintenance, as well as labour charges for some of the work undertaken.

During 2010 I have been contacted with reports of otter sightings, but not regarding any fishing tales! If you have any let me know, so I can include them next year in our annual newsletter.

Another development is the creation of this website for the fishing club. The main purpose of the site is the idea amongst members that it would be interesting to know what other members are catching in terms of species, sizes, etc. This information would help us understand the condition the river is in and I am sure would be of interest to us all.

Lastly I hope you enjoy your fishing in 2011. Again, if you have any suggestions about the club, please feel free to contact me.

Happy New Year and kind regards

Andy Walden Hon. Sec