Founded in 1936
May 1936 saw a gathering of local business men, farmers and local anglers to discuss forming a local Angling Club. It was agreed by all present that a further meeting should be held on June 2nd 1936 to further discuss and implement the findings of the first meeting.
It was at this open air meeting on the banks of the River Cam at Bottisham Locks, that the club was born. The name of the club was to be the Beach Angling Club and its headquarters would be in Waterbeach village. One of the major rules decided upon at the meeting was that all club officials must reside in either Waterbeach or Landbeach. This rule has long been rescinded.
The election of officers was next on the agenda and the following were elected to hold office for the first year:
President: Mr A C Porcher
Chairman: Mr Charles Baxter
Hon. Sec: Mr L Ballard
Hon. Treasurer: Mr A C Porcher
Committee: Messrs’ R Badcock; B Rowe; H Doggett; W Aldridge; J Foster; J Rayner; W Fox; J Cooke; J Hostler;
Landowners present: A Hatley; C Sabberton.
In was foreseen in those days, that unless a local Angling club was formed, the waters in the area would be taken over by an outside club from Cambridge or possibly further afield such as London, Leicester or even Birmingham and Sheffield.
The landowners below Bottisham Locks were very co-operative towards the club and agreements and leases were made with the following gentlemen: Messrs’ Porcher; Sabberton Bros; Hatley and Shrubbs.
This of course gave the club a wonderful stretch of river in which to operate.
The membership during the first season reached a total of 37 and the club subscription was half a crown [2/6d]. It was suggested and agreed by some officials not to increase the membership above 50.
However, this suggestion was later rescinded and 2 years after this decision  the membership had risen to the respectable figure of 184.
During the second world war years [1939-1945] the administration and activities of the club were naturally curtailed, but nevertheless the anglers who were left behind still managed to keep things going and each year a small profit was made.
Following the war, in 1948, a further mile and a half of river above Bottisham lock was added to the fishing available to members.
I will deal more fully in the next edition of the beach news about how the club has grown in almost 50 years of working.
But I will finish this one by saying we have always had a very good relationship with the various lock keepers that have been employed by the river board authorities at Bottisham Locks. The last one of course was very well known to most of the local residents, Mr & Mrs Bernard Harding. Bernard has now retired and lives in a bungalow in the old Cambridge Road.
On December 1st 1982 four officials of the club, Messrs Alan Wyatt [President]; Rex Atkin [Vice President]; Peter Shipp & Les Ballard [Trustees] went along and presented a cheque and a bouquet of flowers to Glad and Bern [as they are known to us anglers] to express their gratitude for the kindness shown towards club members, especially the juniors for the friendly atmosphere when weighing in fish and selling club cards, day tickets and river board licences during their 22 years as Lock keeper and wife.
Prior to our ownership, I was secretary to the WAC and manager of the WAC trout fishery on a lake which we rented from Mr. John Dickerson, which we were able to run successfully for a number of years until Mr. Dickerson decided he wanted to retain the lake for the personal use of his family. In recompense, John offered us Leland Water and its associated land for a sum of £20,000.
Upon inspecting the lake we found that the club committee agreed it was a good deal, which we would like to take up. However, the purchase price although very reasonable, would give the club difficulty in financing the venture.
The largest problem facing the club was the lack of income we would have for the two-year period it was estimated it would take to stock the lake in the manner we wanted. I decided it might be fruitful to engage with Mr David Rayner a large farmer in Swaffham Bulbeck and owner of Scotsdales Garden Centre. My view was that David might offer us an interest free loan to tide us over the two-year difficulty. However, David did much better than that, as he advised us to offer Life Memberships of the Water for two hundred and fifty pounds.
The committee agreed to our proposal and I’m pleased to tell you that mine was the first of the initial and many memberships taken up. The response was indeed so good, that in a few months the club’s financial purchase of the lake and land was no longer an issue.
Now, in my eighty second year, I’m probably the oldest, and equal longest of our initial life members. We had, at first, thought it possible, in the future, to make it a lake that all WAC members could fish. That may one day still happen but, at least, they now get a free day on the water with their WAC membership card. The continued development of Leland into the first class fishery it is and its need to finance that development has meant it still remains a syndicate water, albeit a most desirable one. Also, of course, Atkins Lake is a whole club facility as will be, hopefully, any future development of the Leland site.
Waterbeach Angling Club Est 1936.
The club at one time boasted to having the oldest participating angler in the UK, Waterbeach resident Horace Bull, who was still fishing at 100 years of age.
Since then, the club has maintained many of these waters and added others,
notably a stretch of the Old West with a series of adjoining 'lagoons' at
Stretham and the Leland Water fishery just off the Waterbeach to Landbeach Road which includes Atkin's Water and Magpie Lake. The Waterbeach Road fishery was purchased in 1983 after a price was agreed between John Dickerson and club stalwart Hugh Reynolds.
The club has much to thank Hugh for, especially as he had the vision to make the club as successful as it now is. He was aided and abetted by well-known Pike angler, Prof. Barrie Rickards, who was also instrumental in the club’s success! Barrie passed away in 2009, Hugh died in 2014.
As said earlier by John Gale the cost of purchase was covered by the sale of 53 life memberships and a grant from Sport England. Magpie Lake was also another of Hugh’s ideas, together with the Chairman of that time, Johnny Holmes, Magpie was excavated on land that Johnny had purchased with the bungalow at 121 Waterbeach Road. Over the years Hugh purchased the Magpie fishery and passed it on to his brother Richard who in turn sold it to WAC. Hugh died in 2014 intestate but Richard, upon inheriting Hugh’s estate, was very generous to the club and donated enough money for the club to construct an Otter repelling fence with enough left over for other small projects EG a new rough-cut mower.
There have been many changes in the club’s committee and officers over the last 10 years. Chairmen have come and gone, but luckily a previous chairman, Les Beecroft, took over the reins again in 2018 and along with Colin Brett as Secretary/Treasurer [2008 – 2021] a huge amount of work has been undertaken and is now almost complete. Colin’s ability to find money for club projects has been critical, helping in removing the old fishing platforms on Atkin’s and Magpie plus reinstating the banks on both, plus many other improvements.
The latest venture was securing a £4500 grant toward constructing another 250 meters of Otter fencing for Atkins’ water and the new Dodd’s water. Most of the physical work was undertaken by Les, the 2 Colins, Mark Shipp and a neighbour, Jon Dyer, without whose knowledge and machinery the work would still be ongoing. Further to the afore mentioned fence Magpie Lake was visited by otters probably living on the Sandalwood grounds [neighbouring property] so it was necessary to find the money and erect another protective fence in double quick time. The purchase and erection of this fence was completed within 2 weeks thus keeping the fish loss down to 20.
Some Leland Water members, Mark Crisp & Greg English, acquired some fingerling carp and started a plan to grow these fish with a view to enhance the stock in Leland water. The outcome was 17 fish were introduced in 2018 and another 15 in 2019. The growing on pond has now been filled and is being converted into a car park for the Leland Water members. Les and Colin acquired another batch of fingerling carp, mainly mirrors, and again grew these to an acceptable size in the concrete tanks, before introducing the bigger fish to Leland and the rest to Atkins.
The club had plans for a silver fish lake on our Waterbeach AC Fishery which will be completed for use in 2020/21. This was made possible by a generous donation from Mr Colin Dodd who wished to put something back into angling for future generations.
Work started on digging the new lake in July 2019 when the club hired in the machinery to take on the task. Les, Jon Dyer, Mark Shipp, Colin Dodd and Colin Brett were the main participants in the project. The club owes a huge debt to Jon Dyer who worked tirelessly on the digger and other machines to see the job through.
Dodd’s Water came onstream in May 2020 and has been great asset to the club. Stocked with home grown Crucian carp, Roach, Bream, Tench, Chub and Gudgeon, it attracts anglers you prefer using very light tackle.
All of our waters are available to fish on day tickets and some, notably the river fisheries plus Atkin’s Water [restrictions apply], can be fished by buying a club card. These are available in the village from Rosemary Stores. Day tickets are available on the bank on all our waters apart from Leland Water where day tickets were* no longer available. 1-year memberships are available by joining a waiting list via the club secretary.
*Recent changes mean day tickets have been reintroduced for Leland for those with a full WAC membership, subject to availability on the day.
On a sad note, we lost our longstanding Trustee, Alan Wyatt, in 2019. Alan had been influential over many years and served the club in every position available. Landbeach village is honouring Alan by naming their recreation ground “Wyatt’s Field”, the WAC have donated and erected a wooden memorial seat to the village as a token of their appreciation of Alan.
2020 also saw the passing of a former committee member and treasurer, Ian Baldock.
With the retirement of Colin at the end of March 2021, his position of secretary was taken on by Phil Grimshaw with Jamie Martin as Leland Manager. New committee members were also recruited, so a new lease of life seemed to be around the corner, It wasn’t long before resignations were made and the Leland job was taken on yet again by Phil and Mark Crisp. Day tickets had been stopped a year or so earlier as the Leland members didn’t want them, using various excuses to back their case, notably it was said that day ticket anglers couldn’t be vetted for the necessary skills needed for caring for the carp.
There were more resignations in 2022, when it was decided day tickets on a limited basis would be again introduced to Leland water. Responsibility for Leland has now reverted to the chairman and the main committee with any maintenance being carried out by Jon Dyer [treasurer] with his machine plus Les.
The club brought in a new approach to club cards for the season of 2022-2023 by offering a 3 lake ticket for the Waterbeach Road fishery whilst keeping the option of a river ticket and Atkins’s water on the other. Day tickets are still available on all waters [Leland restrictions apply]
The club celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1986 and 25 years later we celebrated our 75th anniversary in 2011. 2016 sees us celebrating the club’s 80th anniversary. The club is looking forward to the 90th in 2026.
We look forward to welcoming new members both young and old to our fisheries.
Les Ballard RIP;
John Gale RIP: