Soon after it's construction, the possibilities presented by the reservoir seems to have attracted the attention of entrepreneurs and local gentry. The Chilterns offers few opportunities for fishing. [2]

Fishery at the Reservoir 1808

Ten years after the reservoir's construction, it seems to have become sufficiently established to support fish and fishing. We know little about the "Fishery at the Reservoir" other than backdated payments made to Thomas Tindal (or Tyndal) by Weston Turville Reservoir Fishing Club when it was established [2] and his press announcements of dire legal consequences to anyone trespassing. [14]

Weston Turville Reservoir Fishery Society 1809-1830

Founded in 1812 after the Marquis of Buckingham acquired the lease from the Grand Junction Canal Company. The Reservoir was seen as the preserve of the well-to-do.

Maximum of 24 members (Majority of the founding members were related directly or through marriage to The Marquis of Buckingham)

Clubhouse (The Golden Perch) and boathouse built.

Books for first 4 years were far from balancing

Seems to have petered out by 1830

The Dashwood era 1830ish -1850

The Dashwoods (Sir John Dashwood-King and his son Sir John Dashwood) enjoyed the hunting and fishing at Halton and lived there in preference to High Wycombe. In the early 1840s they employed Francis Hardy as Fisherman (Water Bailiff) with little publicity escaping the estate.

The only account we've found of a catch during this period was Capt. Paulet with a "jack weighing 27 pounds and measuring exactly 4 feet" See Notable catches below.

Francis Hardy's Subscription era 1850-1862

When Sir John Dashwood died the mismanagement of their estates finally led to the family facing bankruptcy and we find Francis Hardy really raising the profile of the Reservoir and the Golden Perch. The Reservoir is now being used by a much wider section of society.

Stories of monster pike being caught appear in national magazines such as Illustrated London News, Sporting Chronicle, The Field and in regional press in Reading, Westmorland.

Fishing permits for the reservoir could be purchased at The Golden Perch or on Long Acre London.

The Rothschild era; Halton Fisheries; Weston Turville Reservoir Fishery 1862ish - ?

Following Francis Hardy's death his belongings were auctioned off and we don't find promotional materials for angling on the reservoir again until 1869.

The Reservoir was however extensively used and we have accounts of skating, fishing and hunting throughout this period.

The Rothschilds acquired the lease of the reservoir and its land so it could be used for pleasurable pursuits. The Golden Perch was replaced by a sizeable house, "The Perch", built in typical Rothschild style for a bailiff. [2]

During this era, in our archive, we have a brochure entitled "Where Shall I spend my Holidays?" which is offering accommodation at "The Beeches" Poultry Farm which includes the offer "Visitors have the privilege of Fishing in Mr. Alfred de Rothschilds waters, by permit, free of charge.[21]

1869 - “Subscription FisheryThe Halton Fisheries (the Rothschilds), about four miles from Aylesbury, at which there is fine angling, are now open to the public (by ticket) until March next. Tickets can be obtained of Messrs. James and Horwood, Aylesbury” [17]

1871 - Along with improved transport options from London The Reservoir is listed under Tring in "The Angler's Diary and Fisherman's Guide to the Rivers and Lakes of the World"

1874 - “Halton Fisheries” In consequence of the LOW STATE of the WATER, all ORDERS for FISHING will be SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE [18]

1882 - Weston Turville Reservoir Fishery is appearing in directories such as Samuel Highley's "Where to fish Round London" [19]

"The Angler's Diary and Fisherman's Guide to the Rivers and Lakes of the World" 1871

"Where to fish Round London" Samuel Highley 1882

Prestwood and District Angling Club 1947-

Have obtained successive leases from the Grand Union Canal Company / Inland Waterways / British Waterways Board and since 2012 The Canal & River Trust.[2]

Their original agreement included the rights to use the former boathouse inlet on the eastern side and 3 punts.

The Angling Club was not warmly welcomed by the local community and there were some major stand off with swimmers, picnickers, local anglers and vets called in to rescue swans and cygnets.

1949 - Aylesbury Magistrates' Court Jean Paul Boucher, of Rignells, Great Missenden, charged with "maliciously killing a cygnet". He had been fishing along with others at Halton reservoir on July 24. Two swans and four cygnets came around the bait. The fishermen threw pebbles/gravel/stones or rocks (depending on source) to keep them away. Boucher threw a stone among the cygnets. It hit one. "The bird more or less drowned itself". – Case Dismissed! though deemed a deplorable case. [22]

1953 - “Trout for Halton Reservoir” Seven-hundred wriggling trout found a new home last week when members of the Prestwood and District Angling Club brought them from Hungerford trout farm to Halton Reservoir. By stocking the reservoir with trout, the Club is not only providing for present members, but also attracting new members. Trout fly fishing elsewhere in the county can only be had in private waters. The new stock includes 500 rainbow and 200 brown trout measuring nine inches in length. Day tickets for fishing in the reservoir can be obtained from the bailiff, Mr. Philbey, of Blue House Wendover. [15]

1954 - “Swimmers – please say away

“One swimmer can spoil a day’s fishing for us and all the work put into improvement of the banks is wasted”

“We don’t mind if they use it for swimming any other time, but they do stir up the mud and make it impossible for us to fish there during our season.”

"the angling Club was ready to meet the swimmers on friendly terms, swimming further down the river was a much better proposition for them because of the danger in swimming in a reservoir. "

The Secretary of the club, Mr. W Craven

1990 - “Heat kills fish in Reservoir Although some 600 fish have died, this represents only ½ percent of total stock.”….[16]

Notable Catches, that made it into the national and local press

As you would have expected, several anglers have claimed having caught the "largest pike". A keen eyed editor at Bucks Herald has corrected a couple of claims. We believe the answer is Mr. McDonald 46lb. Unfortunately, The Pike Angler's Club of Great Britain which lists pike of greater than 40lbs since 1950 has no entries for Weston Turville.

1833 - "Capt. Paulet caught, in the Weston Turville Reservoir with a trimmer, a jack weighing 27 pounds. It measured exactly 4 feet and was as fine a fed fish as ever was caught. Captain Paulet with much liberty, sent it to Mr. John Fowler, at the White Hart, who dressed it on Saturday for his Farmers’ table."[5]

Note, at the time, John Kersley Fowler ran the White Hart family hotel & commercial inn which was on Market Square. He was also a wholesale wine & spirit merchant, farmer, grazier of Prebendal farm, posting master to Her Majesty as well as agent to the Atlas fire & Life. Later parcel delivery agent for the Great Western Railway Company.

1851 - "Mr. Temple, of Lee, Bucks, whilst fishing in the Weston Turville Reservoir, caught an enormous pike, weighing upwards of 40lbs. He was forty inches and a half in length, and 10 inches in circumference."[6]

1852 - "the bud are of an unusual size; one was taken last August of 4lbs 10 ounces"[8]

1853 - “PIKE ANGLING – Mr Drinkwater, of the Boar’s Head, Long-acre, while pike fishing on Thursday last, at Mr Hardy’s Subscription Waters, Weston Turville Reservoir, near Wendover, Bucks, took two brace of fine pike, the largest weighing 23lb. This is the fifth time Mr Drinkwater has been to those waters since the first of November, and has always met with similar good sport. The total number of fish taken by him in his first five visits was 19, and their united weight 140lb.”[7]

1853 - “PIKE-ANGLING EXTRAORDINARY AT WESTON TURVILLE RESERVOIR”; The pike run very large. Last Thursday my friend Mr. M’Donald, and myself took six brace of pike and one brace of perch, my friend being equally fortunate with myself in number, but not in weight. I killed with one rod, three fine pike, one 8 lbs., another 15½ lbs, and the largest weighing no less than 27 lbs., measured 44¾ inches in length, and round the girth 23½ inches. This gave me one hour and a half of the finest sport I ever had with the rod. The united weight of the seven brace of fish was 78 lbs. I have two pike preserved that I took out of the same waters, one 18½ lbs. and another 23 lbs., and on six visits to those waters since the 1st of November last, I have always met with good sport, the total number of fish taken in the six days being 32, and their united weight 228 pounds.[8]

1860 - For two days out of the three I worked hard, and though I caught thirty, not one of them weighed more that 3½lb.. and I returned to the water seventeen jack about 1lb and 1½lb. each. There must be some heavy pike there, as I put out a live bait (a roach) quite ¾lb. the day I left, and it was torn to pieces about the head.[12]

1860 - After five hours’ spinning, six and a half brace of fine pike was the result, our largest fish weighing close upon 15lb. – not, fishermen’s weight. [13]

1868 - "An Extraordinary Take. – The Rev. A .H. Clemming, vicar of Hunton Bridge, Watford, a few days ago, whilst fishing in the Halton Reservoir, succeeded with some difficulty in landing a large pike, measuring 42 inches in length, and weighing 26lbs. The fish has been sent to a taxidermist in London, to be stuffed, and will be on view at the Halton exhibition."[9]

1870 - “HALTON LARGE PIKE” in the Field of Saturday last, says:- It may interest your readers – many of whom are acquainted with Halton Fishery – to know that a very fine jack was taken there on Friday, the 4th inst. It was sent to Groves’s at Charing Cross on Saturday. Mr. John Quainton, a veteran fisherman of Aylesbury, was the taker of the fish which measured 3ft. 10in. in length, 1ft 11in. in girth and weighed 29lb. 3oz. If still at Groves’s, it will be worth a visit. It is one of the largest- probably the largest- fish ever taken at Halton. [We believe there is an error with reference to this being the largest pike which has been taken in Halton reservoir, as we have been informed that Mr. McDonald, in one of his fishing excursions at this place, a few years ago, took there a pike which weighed 46lbs. – Ed. B.H.] [10]

1916 - WESTON TURVILLE. Piscatorial.— Whilst fishing in the Halton reservoir on Tuesday, January 25th, Acting C.Q.M.S. R. White, who was home from the front, had the good fortune to take what believed to be the record fish for many years a pike weighing 21 ½ lbs. Its length was 3 feet 7 ½ inches, width 4 ½ to 5 in, depth 7 ½ to 8 inches. The landing occupied from 20 minutes to half-an-hour. The fish was hooked on the west side of the reservoir and landed on the east side, the anchor having been drawn up for safety. [We are informed a pike weighing 23 lbs. was taken from the same water in 1892.]

Anglers from out of town.

From the very early history of the reservoir, there was much interest from anglers in London in particular. From 1858, there are adversisements in Field and Bell's Life in London from a shop and fishing tackle manufacturer in Long Acre selling access to

  • Alfred Gould in 1860 describes the reservoir as seven miles from Tring, on the London and North-Western Railway but also suggests the cheapest way to get there is by the Wendover omnibus, which leaves the Gloucester Coffee House (which was on Oxford Street) about eleven a.m. [12]

  • Also in 1860, Three inhabitants of Maida Vale describe their journey "Weston Turville was the spot selected, on the North-Western line. The journey down was such [that it might certainly have been better;] for instance, stopping five minutes at one place, ten at another, was carrying railway courtesy a little too far to be pleasant. Travelling forty miles in two hours, it took a good three before fishing commenced." Unfortunately, there is no mention of how they travelled from the North-Weston line to the reservoir. [13]

1848 Mogg's Omnibus Guide

There have been negative consequences to wildlife from the angling practices deployed at the reservoir. Lead shot has stunted the growth of cygnets, coarse fishing line choking swans and cygnets, effectively starving them to death. Even barbed hooks found in birds. [4]

Anglers did not cover themselves in glory by challenging the right of rescuers to be there and the National Association of Specialist Anglers disclaiming any involvement in swan deaths despite the evidence. Credit should be given to the editors of The Bucks Advertiser and Bucks Herald for highlighting the plight of the swans in the 1990s.


  1. ^ Field magazine 29 Jan 1853

  2. ^ Weston Turville Reservoir by Tessa Taylor

  3. ^ Weston Turville a History by Hamish Eaton

  4. ^ "Something In A Cardboard Box" by Les Stoker

  5. ^ Bucks Herald 05 Oct 1833

  6. ^ The Illustrated London News 31 May 1851 also reported in Westmorland Gazette 07 Jun 1851

  7. ^ Sporting Chronicle 02 Jan 1853

  8. ^ Field Magazine 29 Jan 1853 also reported in Reading Mercury 05 Feb 1853

  9. ^ Bucks Chronicle 15 Feb 1868 also reported in Bucks Herald 08 Feb 1868

  10. ^ Bucks Herald 19 Nov 1870

  11. ^ Bucks Herald 05 Feb 1916

  12. ^ Field 27 Oct 1860

  13. ^ Field 08 Dec 1860

  14. ^ Northampton Mercury 27 May 1809

  15. ^ Bucks Herald 27 Feb 1953

  16. ^ Bucks Herald 09 Aug 1990

  17. ^ Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press 10 Jul 1869

  18. ^ Bucks Herald 05 Sep 1874

  19. ^ "The Angler's Diary and Fisherman's Guide to the Rivers and Lakes of the World" 1871

  20. ^ "Where to fish Round London" Samuel Highley 1882

  21. ^ "Where Shall I spend my Holidays?" a brochure in WTHSoc archive.

  22. ^ Bucks Advertiser 7 Oct 1949

  23. ^ Bucks Examiner 21 May 1954