The Derwent Fly Fishing Club was formed in 1838 and is believed to be one of the very oldest fly fishing clubs in the country.
The image below shows an excerpt from the Sheffield Independent on the 15th Sept 1838, where the club committee are announcing the private status of the fishing from Grindleford Bridge to Mytham Bridge on the Derbyshire Derwent. The whole of this stretch remains with the club to this day.
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Lawyer and renowned angler of the time WH Aldam was among the founders of the club and later was the club secretary. He was also an honorary member of the Chatsworth fly-fishery and founder, honorary member and late honorary secretary of the Darley Dale fly-fishing club.
Aldam released the succinctly titled book “A Quaint Treatise on “Flees and the Artyfichall Flee Making” by and old man well known on the streams as a first-class fly-fisher a century ago”, which was published in 1876 and contained examples of tied flies and samples of the materials required to make them. It is the very first book of this nature ever published.
The manuscript upon which Aldam based his text appeared at auction in 1999; the author’s name was revealed to be Robert Whitehead, but nothing further of the author is currently known. Both issues of this scarce work bear the date 1876 on the spine; a very few are recorded with a title page date of 1875, but it appears that no copies were actually sold until the Spring of 1876. Approximately 200 copies were sold over a period of several years.
In his introduction he states that “this is published at the request of many friends and of the present members of the Derwent Fly Fishing Club; also in affectionate remembrance of many esteemed members, long gone to their rest, who aided the editor in the formation of this club in the year 1838”.
The book has two images of paintings by the famous landscape painter James Poole, who was also believed to be a club member. One of the paintings “Offerton Stepping Stones” is set on the clubs water, just upstream of Hathersage and is shown below… (a current photograph of the Stepping Stones 150 years later can be seen on the home page rotating images).
There are believed to be only 200 examples of this book in existence and examples now exchange hands between collectors for large sums of money.
The membership in the early years of the club was made up of influential Victorians, during the time of huge expansion of Sheffield during the industrial revolution. Members over the years have included industrialists, a baronet, lawyers, artists, multiple Master Cutlers (head of the company of cutlers in Sheffield), lord mayors, MP’s, writers and wealthy merchants
The image below is a membership ticket from 1895 for Robert Eadon Leader. Leader was a journalist and writer, he wrote 9 books and published dozens of pamphlets. He unsuccessfully ran for parliament twice. He also served as president of the Hunter Archaeological Society and the Provincial Newspaper Society.
A Club Rulebook from the same year is viewable here
The club is always looking for more detail on the clubs history and would welcome any documents or information anyone could offer.
The photograph at the top of this page shows Harry Shardlow, who became club secretary in 1942.
The club would like to thank the Flyfishers Club for kindly allowing access to Aldams book and to John Knott for the Members Ticket images from his private collection.