Growing up in the early part of the 20th century, Benjamin Pond shunned the stable life he could have had if he had taken over his father's drapery business. Instead, he headed down to Dorset, purchased a boat and set up a business as a longshoreman, renting his boat to fishermen. During his life it is estimated that he spent 19,000 days fishing and caught 1,390,000 fish.
In Benjamin Pond's memoirs he describes the harsh life before the existence of the welfare state and how beachcombing assisted his poor income. He recounts his journeys of sailing around the coast of Hampshire and Dorset, of the changing conditions and weather and of his part in salvaging and rescuing other stricken craft piloted by less able people. Alongside he provides anecdotes and tales of the people and characters he once knew.
Through friendship with the Marconi family, Benjamin Pond became interested in radio and received the last night's messages from the grief stricken S.S.Titanic on a receiver that he owned. He was a highly respected figure of the community so much so that he was often referred to as 'Lord Goathorn' - 'Goathorn' is a peninsular opposite side water from Sandbanks.
In 1939 with the outbreak of WWII, his boat was confiscated as part of the war effort and he became the river keeper for the Countess of Brecknock in Wherwell. Whilst there, he was on several occasions, asked to help with the fishing at Broadlands, Lord Mountbatten's home in Romsey. There he fished with the Queen Mother and had dinner with the Queen.
Benjamin Pond passed away at the age of 83
Longshoreman by Benjamin Pond,
Available in Hardback or for Kindle via Amazon
Benjamin Ponds book, Longshoreman, has been published by Benjamins Son, Mike Pond. For all matters concerning Benjamin Pond & the Book please use the contact page to get in touch.
(Benjamin Pond's Grandson)
Alexis Pond is a great lover of photography. Just like his grandfather he says there couldn’t be a better way to spend a day than walking in the country side or along the sea shore, looking for interesting subjects and situations to photograph. Its his way to relax and find a sense of calm.
Visit his website to see some great examples of his work
Lord Of Goathorn
From Lush Cosmetics
Inspired by Benjamin Pond, a longshoreman known as the Lord of Goathorn, this is a distinctly marine-like fragrance. Its initial intriguing seaweedy smell turns to smoky lime and basil lifted on a sea breeze.
A selection of articles that we have faithfully reproduced from newspaper and magazine clippings kept by Benjamin Pond. In his lifetime he wrote many such articles and if you have read the book Longshoreman you will have already come across a few of these tales in the book.
Memories of Shell Bay – Shipping Butter From Dorset
Western Gazette, 16th May 1958
The entrance into Poole Harbour is only four hundred yards in width, yet the coastline of this wonderful harbour is no less than ninety-six miles. North Haven, now better known as Sandbanks, is on the north side of this narrow entrance, whilst South Haven is on the opposite side and also has a new name. Shell Bay it has become and so it will remain, at least until the last shell is picked up. Continue Reading >
The Woman Who Counted The Gooseberries
Poole Herald, 27th August 1958
Some very odd and funny happenings can now be told of life in the early days amid the dunes, marram grass, and the banks of sand which gave Sandbanks it's name.
In those days I had a shack near the old Haven Inn, also a houseboat in Stoke's Lake, and I did all manner of jobs for the few residents at that time. Continue Reading >
Memories Of Studland
The Fishing Gazette, October 3rd 1958
There is one spot that will always linger in the writer's mind. That is the beautiful village of Studland, in Dorset.
The village is rightly claimed to be the prettiest in England, but it is the beauty of the bay which concerns this story. The bay itself, some 5 miles of coast line, has a fine sandy beach for over 3 miles, averaging 100 yd. in width, while the remaining length consists of high chalk cliffs, rising abrubtly from the waters edge. Continue Reading >
Trout That Give Themselves Up
Anglers World, December, 1962
How fortunate my life, I've never owned a car, never owned a motorboat. Managed to get to all my fishing on two legs, or, when afloat, with sails and oars. I think some of the fun was in getting to our fishing spots, then getting home again. Try sailing eight miles close hauled on a bouncing sea and get that exhilarating feeling. Motor-boats? Bah! Continue Reading >
The Basic Facts Of Salmon Fishing
Anglers World, April 1963
In this first article concerning salmon fishing, we must get down to the basic facts, in other words, we must explain the whole thing from A to Z.
To begin, we must compare fisheries, good, average and bad, yes, there ARE bad ones, as some of you may find out when you have paid your season's money. Continue Reading >
Half A Sovereign
Anglers World, October 1963
Back about 1908 I was fishing late one night on the pier, Bournemouth ought to have been in bed really. Was on lower deck, aided by the lights from the main upper deck where Sir Dan Godfrey conducted the evening's Municipal Orchestra concert. Must made a fairly good catch that night, had some pollack averaging 2 lb., when a gent comes down the iron stairway. It was the Borough coroner whom I knew, and he remarked : "you should be in bed by now!"
"What?" I said, when fish are on the feed?" I added: "Besides. it's cost me tuppence to get on here." Continue Reading >
Nudists Nearly Capsize a Boat!
Poole Herald, 25th March 1964
So the nudists are again in the news. No wonder that Studland people are concerned. Of course if we were a tribe of natives in a very hot climate and all went in the nude, I suppose it would not be embarrassing at all. It is when you get a few absolutely naked individuals wandering around that real embarrassment is caused. Why should the great majority be subjected to seeing the undressed torsos of the few? Nudists nearly caused a local paddle steamer to run aground, more than 50 years ago. Continue Reading >
It Was Drinks All Round In Devon
Anglers World, April 1965
Regular readers have noticed that I have been in some queer places and done some odd things during sixty odd years continuous fishing, day in, day out. Of course, I have been most fortunate to have led the life I have, right from when as a boy I resided in a house on the banks of a river, then later went to live close to the lower waters of the Stour and Avon, plus the sea only two miles to the south. In 32 years on rivers and another 31 years sea-fishing I have discovered that there is no pastime equal to our sport, here I would like to suggest that anglers should be more variable in their pursuits, too many just go to the same river or bit of coast. Continue Reading >
Paddleboat Memories On The Dorset Coast
Poole Herald, 27th October 1965
During the past hundred years the paddle steamers have cruised along the Dorset Coast. They’ve gone to all the resorts between Brighton and Dartmouth, including the Isle Of Wight, also as far as Cherbourg and Alderney. Now, in 1965, we have been limited to only one paddler, the “Embassy,” yet just before the first world war no less than 10 boats were running from Bournemouth, four of which tied up at Poole for the night. Before the start of this century Cosen’s steamers used to spend the nights alongside the old goods pier at Swanage, there being no available berths at Poole, due to the large numbers of sailing ships at that time. Continue Reading >
Poole's Four Tides Every Twenty Four Hours
Creel, July 1966
There is no part of the British Isles that has so many advantages and attractions as the district around Poole, at least as far as the angler is concerned. Not only is it possible to fish for almost every species of sea fish, there is also within reasonable distance four of the best rivers, these being the Avon, Stour, Frome and Piddle.
The Bournemouth, Poole area has a summer population of a quarter of a million, yet there is plenty of space for the lone angler who wants sea fishing; Poole Harbour's indented coastline extends to ninety-six miles, and the outer shore from the east of the bay to Swanage is fourteen miles long. In addition to all this the boat angler has both the open sea and many deep channels within the harbour itself. Continue Reading >
A Night Adrift (A River Keeper Looks Back)
Anglers World, August 1966
I had told Mutt to be ready on Poole Quay for a 48-hour cruise along the Dorset Coast, so that we might find unknown areas where fish of great size resided. Mind, we both had big ideas at that early age, being still at school, and we had got fed up with catching tiny pout and dabs in the harbour. Plans were made for two days and two nights at sea, surely we should not fail to land some big stuff. Continue Reading >
A Mixed Bag
Anglers World, March 1967
Darkness had descended, set in, fallen, or whatever it never fails to do, and I had just lit my oil lamp in my shack when a loud thump came upon the one and only door.
Now to get a visitor in this out-of-this-world place was rare, once in three years perhaps, but never when the said darkness had descended, you see, my shack was over four miles from any road or abode, so with some misgiving and much caution I moved to the said door just as a second heavy thump came upon it. Continue Reading >
The White Donkey - an apparition amid the heather
Andover Advertiser 9th December 1967
As a boy I suppose I believed in ghosts because the old house in which I lived in Bridge Street, Andover was said to be haunted, footsteps being heard in the dead of night.
But when my family took me down to the coast in 1907 I forgot all about ghosts, spooks and apparitions, many years elapsed before I was to experience a terrible fright on a lonely Dorset heath. At the time I had this scare (1929) I was living in an isolated villa on the fringe of Studland Heath and not far from the shores of Poole Harbour. Continue Reading >
Ships Were Three Deep At The Quay
Poole Herald 7th November 1968 (Was also in the Bournemouth Times)
Once upon a time – this is no fairy story – our Town Quay was crowded with sailing ships, a real forest of masts. Brigs, schooners and Thames barges often tied up alongside each other, two or three deep. That was the scene at the turn of the century. Round about 1912 there were still plenty of craft which depended on the winds to fill their sails, although there was a gradual increase in vessels driven by steam. Continue Reading >
Poole decoy ships fooled the U-boats
Bournemouth Times and Poole Herald 14th November 1968
At the start of this century a thing called a motor-car might have actually been seen on Poole Quay. Not too near the water, mind, because brakes were not very reliable in those times. Such the car might bear the registration letters EL, which indicated it had come all the way from Bournemouth, or it might have had the letters FX for our county, Dorset.
None of these cars had more than three figures after the two letters. In fact one day a car appeared with just one registration letter, A. I believe it was A 625 and was owned by a Southampton man who was captain of one of the ships of Coast Lines, a company whose ships had been regularly calling at Poole since those days, and still do so. Continue Reading >
When The Stour Polluted Our Coastal Waters
Poole Herald, 10th July 1969 (Magazine Section)
Surprised, dismayed, I certainly was on returning to the Stour in 1942 for a second spell as riverkeeper. Last week I wrote about my early years on this water from 1908 to 1915.
But how things had changed since those days; I had come back to a polluted river and poaching was rife. Help had to be obtained. I contacted Mr. Mooring Aldridge, who was secretary of the Board of Conservators. With his help, and that of the board’s analyst, Mr. Read, I was given more authority by being made bailiff to patrol banks between Tuckton Bridge and Canford. Mr. Read informed that they had already reduced much of the poisonous matter which flowed into the Stour from farm yards, garages, sewers, and small factories as far up as Sturminster Newton. Also they were still investigating other offenders. So gradually we believed we were winning the day against pollution. But a year or two later I was to be shocked at what I beheld in my water – hundreds of dead fish were everywhere, including four huge salmon. Continue Reading >
While The BBC Falls Down on it's R's.... Poole Still Speaks Good English.
Times-herald Series, week ending May 16, 1970
From Winchester, once the capital of England, our native tongue remained unchanged over the ages. Now in more recent years, a new pronunciation of certain words is spreading into Hampshire. It has even reached as far as Bournemouth; heaven help us if it ever gets to Poole. This new dialect, tongue, call it what you like – I know what I call it – originated in the London area, spreading to Oxford also to counties in the south-east. Many of the speakers on the BBC are guilty these days of mispronouncing certain words, especially those which contain the letter R. Here, for example, are just a few words. In each case I give both the incorrect and the correct ways of expressing them: pawtah - porter, oftah - after , twavel - travel, majah - major , yah - year, ova - over, brahn - brown, fowah - four, Dawset - Dorset. This intruding dialect is spreading. Heaven help Dawset, I mean Dorset and poor old Poole. Continue Reading >
Fresh Angles On The Lighter Side Of Fishing
Times Herald Series, Week Ending November 7, 1970
There was always a funny side to fishing, there always will be. In earlier articles I have written of things which have happened at Throop beside the Stour in the days gone by. Now to relate a few amusing incidents. As you may know, the extensive area now covered by Hurn Airport was, until 1941, a very renowned corn-growing bit of Old England, but with the coming of the war no more wheat was sown and much of this land which had comprised part of the late Earl of Malmesbury's estate became an important airfield. Continue Reading >
Memories Of Bridge Street, Andover
Hampshire Magazine, March 1973
FETCH me two cornets, here’s a penny,” my cousin asked me. Yes, Carr’s sweet shop was opposite our rambling old home in Bridge Street, known as “The Chestnuts” because two of these huge trees stood on the front lawn. Ice-cream was a new kind of luxury back in 1902, terribly expensive at a halfpenny each, so we thought at that time. At the great age of six I went into business; after all, a penny a week does not go far, especially when there was a sweet shop just across the road and no fear of getting run over. I began collecting horse manure with bucket and shovel and sold it a penny a bucketful. There were tons of the droppings in our road, and so there was in High Street around the Town Hall. My father was mayor at the time. Thanks to following the horses (I’ve never put a shilling on one in my life) I soon made enough money to encourage my sister to assist me, paying her fourpence in the shilling. Continue Reading >