A number of decades ago, back when I was young, I was interested in fishing. As a teenager still at school and blessed with only limited funds, most of the fishing tackle I owned was either passed down from my dad (including a dated, even at the time, cane fishing rod that snapped in half while making a cast one day, much to the amusement of my friends!), or acquired as presents at birthday or Christmas time.
I did have enough money to buy the other necessities of the pastime though: line; floats; lead shot (long since banned!); hooks; perhaps the occasional bigger-ticket item like a keep-net or something; and, of course, bait, usually in the form of a tub of wriggling maggots, often in a variety of dyed shades to make them more attractive to the fish (the ones at all the places I went must have been colour-blind though…).
At the time, years before online shopping and even the World Wide Web itself would be a thing, there were a considerable number of fishing tackle shops in the city. Some were dedicated to the pastime, others were a sideline, such as the barber’s that I visited as a child where you could have your hair cut and then buy a pike lure or something (while pretending not to look at the girlie mags that were amongst the fishing periodicals on a small table between the seats where you sat and waited your turn).
The largest tackle shop in Sheffield (and the country, so it was claimed) was Bennetts. The shop had been opened back in the 1950s by Harry and Peter Bennet, renowned match anglers and railwaymen who used to organise angling tournaments for thousands of local fishermen.
In later years the store moved to larger premises on Stanley Street just off The Wicker on the edge of the city centre, and it was here that I would drool longingly over the extensive range of tackle that I had no possibility of acquiring, before buying a considerably more affordable packet of hooks or a swim-feeder or something along those lines.
As my teens came to pass so, mostly, did my interest in angling, and I probably didn’t set foot in Bennett’s (or any other tackle shop) after that, although my dad continued to fish on occasional trips with his friends that had been organised by the pubs and clubs he frequents, so I would get the odd fishing story every now and then (usually about how he’d caught nothing!),
In 2010 Bennet’s closed for good, partly as a result of the 2008 financial crash and subsequent recession, but also as result of the extensive flooding that hit parts of Sheffield in 2007, submerging the store in feet of water.
The main entrance to the shop on Stanley Street has been repurposed now, but the smaller entrance on The Wicker remains, gradually fading away and falling into disrepair.
I wish I had a photo of the shop in it’s heyday, but I’m still glad for the one presented below. It still serves as a memory and I suspect it won’t be there for ever.
Olympus OM-2n, Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.8 & Fujichrome Velvia 100.
Taken on 2 August 2020