Trout in the Treasures

Did you know Trout season lasts from March to September? Library Assistant Becky Bavil went for a rummage in the reference and research stacks where she found ‘Yorkshire Trout Flies’ by TE Pritt (SR799.124 PRI)

Yorkshire Trout Flies – T.E. Pritt

Published in 1885 the item is counted as one of our treasures, seeing as it is not only a first edition with coloured plates, hand painted by the author; but the author’s very own edition, first-off the press.   

In it, he has both pasted and copied some of his reviews in the most beautiful handwriting.  It feels like he was very proud of this book, which was expanded for a later edition titled ‘North Country Flies’.  I decided to explore the Local and Family History collection to find out a little more about the author. 

Sometimes working in Local and Family history feels a lot like being Alice in Wonderland, only without the eating and drinking.  This particular rabbit hole took me to the ‘Yorkshire Scientific Biographies’. These are a series of what look like exercise books with newspaper articles about interesting scientists pasted into them in alphabetical order.  There are 218 scrapbooks in 12 boxes! Thankfully, a past librarian indexed them for us so that they are usable today, although extremely fragile.  Under the entry for TE Pritt, I found his obituary and an account of his funeral from the Yorkshire Weekly Post; as well as a call to subscribers for a posthumous publication. 

Thomas Evan Pritt was born in Preston the son of an artist.  He spent most of his adult life in Leeds.  In his professional life he was a well-respected bank manager, but that is not why his obituary from 14/09/1895 in the Yorkshire Weekly Post glowingly states “few men outside the first rank of public and business life in Leeds were better known than Mr Pritt; none could be more loved or esteemed”. 

Pritt was well known in Leeds as a sportsman, being instrumental in founding Headingley Golf Club, but more significantly, as an important figure in the Yorkshire Angling Association.  A lifelong lover of fishing, Pritt was well known in and around Leeds as the author of the angling column in the Yorkshire Weekly Post. 

His articles were very popular, being described as having a “racy, unique character which led to the whole body of readers – especially the non-angling readers – to turn first to it upon opening the paper.”  These sound like they might be worth a read!  Fortunately, the Yorkshire Weekly Post is one of the many titles we hold on microfilm. 

Racy is not really the word I would use to describe them, but they are charming.  Cleverly written, they have a friendly style and usually feature a funny story, not always about angling.  As well as the actual angling matters that you would expect to be reading about, he offers observations on life and society including the woes of the fishing widow, and which is the most serious vice to avoid: 

“If you were to ask me, as an old stager, whether the intoxication of love or drink is the more to be avoided, I should be inclined to say there is not much in it.” (Yorkshire Weekly Post, 26/01/1889, p3) 

‘Yorkshire Trout Flies’ is part of our strongroom collection and available to view by making an appointment with the Local and Family History department.  Our microfilm newspaper collection can be viewed using our computers at any time during opening hours.   

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