Godalming Angling Society was founded in 1881 with around 25 members - fishing Broadwater and the river Wey and Godalming Navigation. Since then, we have grown steadily over the years and now have a membership of over 1800, and many more waters for our members to fish.
Below you'll find the key events that have shaped the society over the years. Let's start at the beginning...
Founded in 1881 with about 25 members - fishing Broadwater and the River Wey and Godalming Navigation. The first inter-club competition, against Guildford Angling Society (founded 1882) was held on the River Wey.
The first recorded attempt at fishery management, netting Littleton Brickpit, result - 3 perch, 1 Gudgeon and one member overboard.
The Society membership was approximately 300 adult and 150 junior members, many anglers from outside the area also enjoying Broadwater and the excellent river fishing from Eashing downstream to Broadford Bridge, Shalford.
Our first purchase of water, the Salgasson water meadow of 17 acres along with one bank of the river, situated above Westbrook Mill (now Parsons Brinkerhoff, civil engineers).
The waiting list timescale for membership to anglers living outside the Godalming area had grown to four years.
We established the now thriving Winkworth Flyfishers who fly-fish the Winkworth Arboretum lakes for trout, having been recommended to the National Trust, by the late Commander McKean, the previous fishery manager.
With careful fishery management, we had some of the best fishing in the south of England and consequently our membership had grown to 1,100 seniors and 500 juniors and we had a waiting list of over 250 with only local anglers being taken in, as and when they wanted to join.
Over the years we have been able to fish, with permission, many of the lakes around the Godalming area, but Broadwater, through a lease with the old Godalming Borough Council was the only stillwater where we had reasonable security of tenure. This changed when in 1984 we embarked on the purchase of Large Enton Lake at Milford, a former trout fishery of some 21 acres with 10 acres of land surrounding it.
With the help of the bank, this purchase was completed and renamed Johnson's Enton Lake in honour of our fishery management secretary at the time, Alf Johnson, who was the driving force behind buying this superb water. Sadly Alf died in 2001 and the lake was renamed as simply Johnson's Lake in his honour. His ashes are scattered there beneath a willow tree planted by his family.
Having fished and looked after the water for over 20 years, we purchased Busbridge Lower Lake from Ladywell Convent at Busbridge, giving the right in perpetuity for them and their guests to access the lake at any time; one of our most beautiful waters. In the same year we leased Bramley Park Lake from Sir Archie Hamilton, a small 3-acre water with an excellent variety of fishing in lovely surroundings.
We purchased some 26 acres of land at Marsh Farm which is situated roughly 200 metres from Milford railway station and right next to our Johnson's Enton Lake, with a view to providing two 3 to 4 acre lakes, a ½ acre training pool and a teaching centre housed in a pavilion style building. Prior to embarking on this project, we applied for Sports Council Lottery funding and we were successful in obtaining the largest fishing related grant ever approved in the sum of £354,844. There were numerous complex and difficult planning issues that had to be resolved, not least our firm rebuttal of the suggestion from the planning officer at that time, that the islands should be put three inches below the water level to achieve an ‘open aspect landscaping effect’.
June. Finally the construction work was started.
Angling Times TV shot the "Birth of a Fishery" at Marsh Farm which was aired some months later on their TV channel.
Marsh Farm Lakes completed, filled with water and partly stocked in December with crucians, tench, roach and perch from Johnson's Lake next door. The remaining stocking took place a few weeks later. Pavilion completed and opened for the use of our coaching team and for club meetings and events.
Marsh Farm opened to members in April and to day tickets in June. Whilst many members were, & still are, involved with this massive and exceptional project, two members in particular made it happen through sheer hard work and incredible perseverance, namely our Treasurer Graham Harris & our Secretary Malcolm Richardson. For their contribution it was agreed at the AGM that year that the two large lakes be named after them. The training lake was then named Hill Pond in memory of the late Head Bailiff Norman Hill.
Awards to Marsh Farm. The Society won the 2005 Waverley Borough Council Design award for Environmental Enhancement and also the 2005 Dreamstore Active Award for Conservation. The Hon.Sec. Malcolm Richardson attended the Institute of Fisheries awards ceremony at the Lowery Centre, Salford Quays and received the Good Fisheries Management Award for 2005.
Marsh Farm on-site tackle shop opened, selling bait and a small range of fishing tackle.
Marsh Farm tackle shop taken over by Apollo Angling with a rebuilt shop and extensive range of tackle and bait.
The Society in July of that year achieved Clubmark status, only the fifth angling club in the country to do so.
Marsh Farm noted by Anglers Mail as the Best Venue in the South East of the UK and it was noted that every year a member catches a crucian close to the 4 lbs 8ozs records, with Anglers Mail journalist Bill Rushmer, catching a personal best of 4 lbs 6 ozs.
Busbridge renamed to Wood Lake, Busbridge in recognition of Head Bailiff David Wood's contribution to the Society over many years.