We love hearing stories of people’s memories of Middleton Hall. We have heard tales of New Years Eve dam failures, aerial photography from a kite, dances given in the Great Hall and recently this tale from John, who remembers a day spent fishing on Middleton Pool in 1944.
“Pop (my father) was very good at making things and in the war matches were difficult to get and cigarette lighters were impossible, so he used to make them whilst he was on fire watch. He hammered a piece of copper tube into an oval and made end caps to be soldered to them and even made the hardened flint wheels. My Uncle Mac, who lived at Hunts Green Farm Middleton, was in the Home Guard with the owner of Middleton Hall which had a large pool covered with lilies which were picked and sent to London to put on tables at big hotels. It also had super pike fishing.
Lily harvest on Middleton Pool
Pop was talking to Mr. Averill, the owner, one day whilst at Uncle Mac’s and he expressed a liking for Pop’s lighter. Pop, never one to hold back, said “You can have it if we can do a bit of fishing on your lake” which was instantly agreed.
This led to one of the most memorable days of my then 11 year life. We went off to Coleshill and fished the Police Waters on the Blythe with our neighbour Mr. Bessant who had permission to fish there as he was a special constable. Having caught a good bait can full of roach, we set off for a day’s fishing at Middleton.
Pop and I proceeded to bait up (live bait was the preferred way to catch Pike in those days) and caught a few small jacks, but about mid day I said I wanted to put my line as far out in the pool as I could. Pop said that pike stayed by the banks and in weeds so it wasn’t a good idea. Anyway I persisted and we took my line right out using a water lily punt. A little while later I noticed that both of my floats had disappeared, Pop said “don’t do anything the pike takes the bait sideways and you have to wait for him to turn it round to get ready to swallow”. I hung on getting very excited and then, after what seemed ages, Pop said “right strike now”. All HELL LET LOOSE!! The line streaked out at an alarming rate rattling my knuckles on the reel. Eventually it stopped, PANIC the reel had carried on and I had a load of unwound line hanging on the floor. The line went limp. As quickly as I could I rewound the spare line but it was all loose and I carried on winding it in with a loose line, I HAD LOST MY BIG FISH phew!!!
Then, as I carried on winding in, I suddenly FELT HIM ON AGAIN . He had swum back towards me, he made another dash but not as far as the first and I kept him under control . After a few more runs and about 20 minutes later we had him close enough for Pop to gaff him and he was landed.
John and the ‘monster’ pike
The Pike was a monster! We weighed it up at Bert Harris the Butcher’s on his accurate scales at 16lbs 1½ozs. Lots of photographs were taken and Mr. Bessant got the Birmingham Mail and the Dispatch to report the event. Pop took the pike to work and it was raffled to eat for a bit of extra protein and the proceeds were sent to a Forces’ charity.”
We would love to hear any memories that you may have of Middleton Hall, get in touch with us by talking to our volunteer room guides when you visit or sending us your tale to firstname.lastname@example.org