The well known author & wildfowler J. Wentworth Day with a local West Mersea wildfowler and all their weapons and tools. Similar one published. [DW]
A wildfowlers' armoury: Tollesbury fisherman and wildfowler Will Leavett (left) discusses an outfit with nature writer James Wentworth Day on West Mersea hard. Items include the mast and sprit for a punt's rig; a long-barrelled punt gun and its tampion and rammer; a pair of punt paddles (short oars); various pushing poles and sticks; and cartridge boxes for the gun. Each man carries a double-barrelled fowling gun. Both were dedicated to the sport, which in Essex particularly attracted fishermen-fowlers from West Mersea, Tollesbury, Bradwell and Maldon, on the River Blackwater. Punt gunning is still carried on for sport from these places and occasionally good bags are made during harsh winters, but the vast flocks of the 19th century and the huge bags made by professional and some amateur punters are now only a memory. Writing in the 1860s, Thomas Kemble who farmed at Wickford, Essex, and was a keen fowler recorded: "I have seen the sky darkened by wild geese, covering a space of half a mile by a quarter of a mile, as thick as manure spread upon the ground, and making a noise which I could onlyh compare with fifty packs of hounds in full cry. I have also seen seven acres at low water covered with widgeon, curlew and ducks, making such a noise that I could not hear my brother talking to me a few yards off. Colonel Russell was off the coast in his yacht. He told me he had sent off to London from Maldon upwards of two tons of geese." [JL]
In the background behind the men can be seen the Bumby Ditch on its way to the creek. This ran down the lower end of The Lane to collect effluent and perhaps was fed by a spring further up The Lane. The spring tended to flow down the Lane (it still does) and The Lane was sometimes known as Weeping Lane. [Brian Jay & Ron Green]
Plate.74 in SWW.
Used in The Sailor's Coast page 31.