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the horse and groom public house Lea Bridge

Back in the day when ‘snatching’ or ‘dragging’ for salmon on the Lea was forbidden from the last day of February to the start of November, the Horse and Groom Fishery was one of the best fishing stations to join, if one was to angle. Mr Teale, the landlord of the Horse and Groom charged the sum of ten shillings and sixpence for the annual subscription or a shilling for the day. At that time the Lea was quite remote for anglers to visit, so taking a stage-coach via Clapton or Walthamstow and disembarking at the Lea Bridge was the main option to get to the river. Crystal clear water would flow over shallow gravel runs perfect for monster barbel to congregate, while views could be enjoyed across the Hackney and Walthamstow marshes and beyond toward Epping Forest. These were good times for the River Lea, before any urbanisation had set in from the near by encroaching villages. Thereafter the river slowly became polluted by domestic and small industrial waste. By the late nineteenth century the Lea was heavily polluted and fish stocks decimated. Thankfully now the river is recovering especially after a big clean up operation for the Olympics in 2012 which has stopped any sewage entering the Lea Navigation at Tottenham and getting washed down into the natural river at Lea Bridge.  The marshes still exist today although reduced in size and drained of its water so that locals can enjoy the open space for football, cricket, or the various nature reserves that are dotted around this area. The natural Lea still has a personality that can be recognised from a book written over 150 years ago, the  ‘Anglers Guide to the Horse & Groom’, although the abundance of fish species have diminished.

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