The River Tees near Barnard Castle
The River Tees near Barnard Castle

BARNARD Castle Angling Club has given up a stretch of leased water and negotiated a reduced fee on another section in an effort to counter the effects of falling membership.

The club’s annual meeting was told there were now just 59 senior members – down from 77 the previous year.

Treasurer Maurice Eustace said this meant a £900 reduction in income from annual subscriptions.

Secretary Frank Harrison said in an effort to offset the reduction in subs, he had written to landowners Raby Estates and John Mayhew requesting a reduction in fees for the 2019 season.

The meeting was told Mr Mayhew had agreed to the club’s request. The club will pay £1,500 next year.

Mr Harrison said Raby Estates had taken some time to respond to the club’s letter and when a reply was received there was no offer of a reduction.

“We had several meetings and an extraordinary general meeting and it was decided to give up that stretch of water.

“Members agreed it was unfeasible. We informed Raby Estates of the decision and I have received no correspondence from them.”

The Raby Estates section of water runs along the north bank of the Tees from the viaduct to the band stand.

The leased water from Mr Mayhew comprises two parts of the river, from the viaduct to Deepdale Beck and the stretch running the length of Abbey Bridge woods.

Mr Eustace said giving up the Raby Estate water would save the club £960 a year.

The meeting was told the club had £6,517 in the bank compared to £7,180 the previous year.

He proposed keeping subs at the same level – £50 for adults, £17 for intermediates (16 and 17-year-olds) and £7 for juniors up to 15. He said he believed increasing subs would simply put off more members from renewing.

Mr Eustace said he would contact those who memberships had lapsed in recent years in an effort to woo them back to the club.

He said one of the problems was people preferred to go to the stocked reservoirs because there was a greater likelihood of catching fish.

“People like to catch fish – they don’t like fishing,” he said.

Club bailiff Gareth Hinchcliffe said that with the large number of houses being built in the area – especially Startforth – the club had a good chance of attracting new members.

“About 1,000 people are moving into the area and a lot of people moving into Startforth Park will fish up at the reservoirs,” he said.

“The river is on their doorstep. We can show them what they have got.”

Club member Luke Morris suggested organising an open day to highlight what the club offered and tempt people into trying their hand at angling.