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Banks of the Severn

Basket Fishing

The making of willow and hazel fish traps was once a Severnside cottage industry, with an estimated 5,000 baskets needing to be replaced every year. Putts, in use since c956AD, were massive and made of three closely woven parts; the kype, butt and forewheel. With 83 putts, Salmon Lodge’s Curtis Weir - one of the largest - was lost in the 1960’s with the making of the tidal reservoir for Oldbury Nuclear Power Station. The smaller putchers were developed in the early 1800’s to large salmon, which could not turn round at the narrow end. In 1859 a bumper catch of 148 salmon was taken in five days, while in 1862 only 80 were caught during the entire season.

Fisheries were only allowed to operate under charter or by right of special privilege. They were owned by the Crown, large county estates, minor gentry and a few freehold farmers.

The industry was at its peak following the coming of the railways as the market for salmon was extended far beyond the local area.

By the 1980’s putts had disappeared from the river and putcher ranks were declining in numbers.  

Today only one or two very small putcher ranks are in operation.

Do you have memories of old trades and local skills being displayed in your area? You can share your stories by following this link.


Images: Thornbury & District Museum – Making Putchers, Salmon Lodge putts, Joe Cornock & putts, Rank of putts at low tide, boy with salmon

This page is part of Industrial Hey-Day