No. 885: Lea Bridge Road, E10
Lea Bridge Road, London, E10. Photo © Roger Dean 2013
Curiosities of London Life: or, Phases, Physiological and Social of the Great Metropolis – Charles Manby Smith, 1857:
The angling season begins in London with the very first disappearance of frost and the first blush of blue sky in the heavens; and, with comparatively few exceptions, Sundays and holidays are the only days of sport. The young angler begins his career in the Surrey Canal, the Grand Junction Canal, or the New River, which ever happens to be nearest to the place of his abode. His first apparatus is a willow-wand, bought at the basketmaker’s for a penny, and a roach-line for fivepence more. A sixpenny outfit satisfies his modest ambition; and thus equipped he sallies forth to feed – not the fishes – them he invariably frightens away – but himself, with the delusive hope of catching them. The blue-bottles have not yet left their winter quarters, and “gentles” or maggots are not yet to be had; so he has recourse to kneaded bread or paste, hoping to beguile his prey with a vegetable diet. In order that the fishes may be duly apprised of the entertainment prepared for them, he crams his trousers-pockets with gravel, which he industriously scatters upon his float as it sails down the stream, doubtless impressed with the notion that the whole finny tribe within hearing will swarm beneath the stony shower to take their choice of the descending blessings, and finding his bait among them, give it the preference, and swallow it as a matter of course. The theory seems a very plausible one; but we cannot say that in practice, though witnessing it a thousand times, we ever saw it succeed. For the sake of something like an estimate of the amount of success among the juvenile anglers of this class, we lately watched the operations of a group of nearly thirty of them for two hours, but failed in deriving any data for a calculation, as not a fin appeared above water the whole time. With the exception of a few “stunnin’ bites,” and one “rippin’ wallopper,” which was proclaimed to have carried off a boy’s hook, there was no indication of sport beyond that afforded by the party themselves.