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Fishing club marks landmark birthday

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 February 2008 | UPDATED: 12:15 07 May 2010

When this club was first founded Queen Alexandra was its patron and a friend of the Norwich School of painters illustrated the menus for its annual dinners.

When this club was first founded Queen Alexandra was its patron and a friend of the Norwich School of painters illustrated the menus for its annual dinners.

Norfolk Angling Club, which is one of the oldest angling clubs in the country, is celebrating its 150th anniversary with the publication of a book charting its history -which will include a collection of menus used at its annual dinners, some of which date back 110 years.

Tim Roe, a veterinary surgeon from Norwich, and current president of the club, holds the vast collection of the menu cards, which were retrieved from a loft in Wiltshire.

They only fell into the club's hands after a woman called a Norwich fishmonger to say she had found the menu cards - which once belonged to her husband - and asked if he would take them. They were then passed on to the club.

A number of the old menu cards were destroyed when the old Norwich library burned down, so the club were thrilled to discover some had survived.

Mr Roe said: “It was most fortunate the cards came into our hands, as it means we can set about preserving the 150 years history for all our members. People can also see the intricate work which has gone into creating these menus.”

Mr Roe has designed the menu cover for the 2008 annual dinner which took place last night , and which was attended by television angler John Wilson.

This year the food on offer is a little different to years gone. In 1909 starters was hare soup, followed by turbot, saddle of mutton or roast pheasant and then stewed pears and prunes.

This year, members will be tucking into filo basket of prawns for starters, salmon fillets for mains and bread and butter pudding for dessert.

The club was founded in 1858, and from 1891 until the First World War, an annual dinner was held in December and a fish supper during the close season.

It was at the meals, menu cards which were elaborate as the meals themselves, were produced.

With illustrations depicting everything from the gods of the sea to mythical mermaids, the menus also contained details of who was to entertain the guests at the dinner, and quirky drawings of events happening at the time.

One of the most famous members of the club was artist Sidney Felix Howitt, who was with the club from 1845 to 1915. He was president of the club in 1896 and produced a number of illustrations for their menus.

He worked for a period with printers Fletcher and Son and was a regular exhibitor with the Norwich Art Circle between 1888 and 1909. He attended evening classes at the Norwich School of Art with famous painter Alfred Munnings.

Today, the club has members including builder Robert Carter and Nigel Hill - chief lawyer at Norwich Union.

Are you a member of a club which is celebrating an unusual anniversary? Call Evening News reporter Tracey Gray on 01603 772418 or email tracey.gray@archant.co.uk

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