Deal’s greatest ambassador to angling
By David Chamberlain
Throughout the autumn of 1963, there were a group of anglers who frequented the south corner of the bottom deck on Deal Pier most evenings. They were taking advantage of the prolific cod stocks that the previous cold winter had revived. One such man excelled in the task and managed to find more and larger fish than most. Born in January, 1900, Cecil James Barber Hurd was always recognisable in his duffle coat and black beret. He was at all times known as Jim and was the proprietor of the local tackle shop, The Foc’sle, which was situated opposite the entrance of Deal Pier.
In 1925 Jim Hurd had married the previous owner of The Foc’sle’s daughter, Margaret Marshall, who was also a keen angler. Eventually he took over the running of the shop, which had been established in 1909, until his death in 1978. They had a daughter, Alison, who was born in 1930. Throughout his life he had dedicated himself to angling and the promotion of Deal as being the Mecca of angling. He joined the Deal and Walmer Angling Association (founded in 1904 and one of the oldest clubs in England) as a young man and was Vice-chairman by 1927; finally becoming chairman for a period of 18 years.
As chairman, Jim Hurd took a keen interest in angling politics and was elected onto the standing committee of the National Federation of Sea Anglers (NFSA) which, at that time, was developing and taking over from the previous governing body the British Sea Angling Society. He helped form the rules and regulations being used by the Federation that has only recently been made defunct and is now incorporated in the Angling Trust. In 1950 he instigated that the Deal and Walmer Angling Association (D&WAA) hold a tope festival. The tope are a small shark which frequented the Goodwin Sands. On the first festival 89 anglers participated and caught 12 large tope. This event became popular and anglers from all over Britain came to Deal to enter.
The Deal and Walmer Angling Association honoured him with a life membership in 1952 and a Vice-Presidency in 1955. It would have been the same year that the national body, the NFSA, also awarded Jim the tribute of becoming a life member and two years later Vice-Chairman and Vice-President of their organisation.
Jim Hurd’s tireless enthusiasm made Deal the centre of angling - and him an ambassador of the sport. Local boatmen, hotel keepers and shopkeepers made a good living from the fishermen that came to Deal. He wrote up-to-date reports for the Fishing Gazette, a national angling paper, which was read by anglers all over Britain. From his tackle shop he invented many kinds of tackle that improved the anglers’ catches and was way ahead of his time in rod design. To own a custom built rod by JB Hurd with the Foc’sle transfer on it was the ultimate in angling equipment.
It is doubtful that the small group of anglers who clustered around their rods under the dim lights of Deal Pier in the autumn of 1963 had realised all the good work that this large man, attired in his duffel coat and beret, had done in the past … if they did they would have felt it a privilege to have known Jim Hurd.