Corby and District Aquarist Society
    Affiliated to F.B.A.S.

Corby and District Aquarist Society
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My first experience of this hobby of ours began on 26th January 1945. On my 7th Birthday, my father bought me a large cast glass “Aquarium”, (actually an empty accumulator jar, manufactured by Tungsten Batteries of Market Harborough). A couple of days later, our neighbours “The Wilkinson Brothers”, arrived with a further present in the form of two, three inch long common carp. They had caught them in one of the numerous ponds that dotted the old ironstone workings in the area. They were my pride and joy for quite a few years. Then after passing the 11+ exam and earning a place at the Kettering Grammar School, Father suggested a pond. Did I say no? You bet I didn’t, and that’s how my interest came about. Here I am still as keen as all those years ago. If you want to know how long, you work it out.

After National Service with the Royal Air Force, I married my fiancée, Carole. At her suggestion we purchased our first “Tropical” Aquarium which was twenty four inches long by twelve by twelve, complete with a green painted angle iron frame. If my memory is not letting me down, I think the first fish in that tank were Zebra Danios, Black Mollies and Neon Tetras. This single aquarium was the beginning of many aquariums over the years, and more importantly, Carole is just as keen as ever. In fact she is probably more so now. She is absolutely “nutty” about Corydoras catfish.

About 1962, or thereabouts I began to attend and briefly joined Leicester Aquatic Society. At the time, they were meeting in the Leicester Museum Aquarium. Then by chance I found out about Corby and District Aquarist Society. This was far more convenient and so I decided to see if they would accept me as a member. I joined in 1963 and I’m still here, although I must confess to a short break when work and other things took me off to the West Country.

Since then, having held most positions within the Society Committee, and discovering that a lot of the records such as the original scrap book have disappeared during those absent years, I decided to compile a book of all the available notes, jottings, photographs and any other paraphernalia – much so because time marches on, and some of our founder members are no longer with us. Little did I know what I was taking on! However, the project is ongoing, and hopefully CADAS will eventually regain some, if not all of the early activities and history.

We now have this website – – and hopefully this new-fangled technology will help us along the way. A future article will include a story about the one and only Biro we had between us, (in those days, it took four people to club together to be able to afford one!) and how we printed the monthly club magazine using home-made ink, the main ingredient being SOOT.

I found that there was always a welcome at CADAS. A lot of fun and a lot of serious talk about fishes and fishkeeping, with a huge wealth of acquired knowledge, not just from books but hands on experience, which was and still is willingly passed on to anyone who asks. I trust that this will carry on for many more years, since it has always been one of the “hall marks” of our society. I certainly intend to help maintain this ethos, as repayment to all those who helped me along the way in earlier years.

My special acknowledgements go to Messrs. Derek Atkins, Bob Burrell, David Jones and Ron Dicks, plus many, many others who have helped our History project.



My introduction to fish keeping came by way of a supply teacher at secondary school. His name is Chris Fleckney, and he turned up on his first day wearing motorbike leathers and jeans, supposedly to teach us Maths. He looked for the world like ‘The Fonz’, long before Happy Days ever hit the screen. He spoke with an Australian accent, which later turned out not to be genuine, but a slightly disguised Cockney lilt. He was married to a girl from Camborne in Cornwall – himself upstairs must be the only one who knows how their kid’s accents turned out.


Needless to say, he didn’t teach much Maths by the book, but he did teach us all about calculating capacity, weight, volume etc. by way of HIS hobby, Tropical Flshkeeping. Strangely enough, from the way he put it over to us, we all understood those principles. From that moment in 1969, I was hooked (sorry about the pun).


When I left school in 1972, I joined the RAF as an Electronics Apprentice. Lo and behold, Chris was a training officer at RAF Locking (Weston Super Mare). The first thing I got was jankers for calling an officer by his Christian name….. I never made that mistake again. Anyhow, to cut the long story short, we developed that old fishkeepers relationship over the next two years, and learned from each other. (e.g. Jack Dempsey’s don’t like Bumblebee Catfish, and vice-versa – guess which one won the contest!).


After many postings around the world, I eventually settled down in life with my SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed), and much like David Page, we went from strength to strength in increasing our own personal Microcosm of Fish. SWMBO (Sharon) has been Secretary to CADAS in the past, and I am a former Secretary, Treasurer, and Magazine Editor. Together, we’ve gathered a wealth of experience; we’ve seen members come and go, but there are always that stalwart few left over to keep CADAS going. Only one thing to say to all ex-members. Where are you now and why haven’t you been back to see us?


My favourite memory is of a public aquarium in Sheffield. Sheffield is my home town, but on reflection, I’ve now lived in Corby longer than I ever lived in Sheffield.


Many years ago (circa 1962), all old tram tracks were dug up from the town centre, and a roundabout installed in their place. This became known as ‘Castle Square’. [The logic behind calling a roundabout a square escapes me].


It took about 5 years to complete, because sometime during construction, an unexploded WWII bomb was discovered which held up the whole project.


When finally completed, the roundabout also had 8 pedestrian underpasses, giving access to any point in Sheffield Centre from any direction. The middle of the roundabout (as seen from the air) was completely empty, but it was the main footwalk through the entire complex.


Pride of place was an Aquarium of some 20 feet long by 4 feet high, and in that were two Paku Piranha (along with other un-recollected species which bred constantly). There was a resident keeper whose full-time job was to keep it all clean, make sure the fish were well fed, and he did a fine job of it. I assume by now he’s long departed (he was about 60-70 then).


I do not have any pictures of it, but if you own or have access to the movie 'The Full Monty', there are brief glimpses of the construction and aquarium in the title sequence.


Many years later, change of Government, Council, and a way of thinking….. Along came Sheffield Supertram, so they filled in Castle Square and put Tram tracks down again. What goes around, comes around………..  I mourn the loss of that Aquarium.


Sadly, where I live now is too small to accommodate the tanks I used to have, so I’ve resigned myself to an administrative role. Sharon and I can be seen at the annual CADAS Open Show, feverishly collating the results. Our target is to have all the paperwork done before the Judges have finished their meals.



Going back to when I began in this lark, I bought a 3 foot tank in Weston-Super-Mare just before I left my apprentiship with the RAF. I knew my Dad would take umbridge at this, because he would be the one who had to transport it from Somerset (as it was in those days) to Yorkshire.


It was an Angle-ironed tank, complete with smelly putty where the previous owner had tried to repair it. For the princely sum of £3, what do you expect?


Anyhow, yet another long story cut short, the tank finally arrived in Sheffield, and I repaired it with the (then) new-fangled Dow-Corning Silicone Sealant, which made the house smell with a bitter and acrid lemon/acidy smell. Now bear in mind that at that time, I was still in the RAF, but had to leave this tank at home whilst I was posted away on my travels.


My Mum, bless her soul, became the custodian whilst I was away from home. As a beginner, I had stocked this tank with Angel Fish, Guppy’s, Transparent Glass Catfish, 3 Siamese Fighters (2 females and a male), a Paradise Fish, and some various other small Tetras. Oh, and some other non-descript ugly fish that I quite liked the look of when I bought them.


I told my mum just to put a bit of food in twice a day, and they’ll be ok.


Nine months later, I came home from my posting in the middle east. Apart from silly things that Mum’s say like ‘Nice to see you, when are you going back’, she said to me that there was a problem with my fish tank.


When I went to see what the problem was, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Instead of all the fishes and lush plant growth that I’d been expecting, there were just 2 fish remaining and some bare gravel. You guessed it. The non-descript ugly fish that I’d bought as a novice, were in fact juvenile Oscars. Whilst I was away doing what RAF people do, the Oscars had accepted my Mum’s feeding regime, and also that of anything else in the tank, including all the plant life.


That was 1974, and it’s now 2004. I don’t suppose that Oscars behave any differently now than they ever did. In Fishkeeping terms, 30 years is a long time. From the fishes point of view, well, that’s another story……….



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