Abingdon’s rights and duties over its fisheries are defined in the Abingdon Corporation Act 1951 and the following information may be of interest.
The extent of the fisheries
The Act (section 4) defines the ‘corporate fisheries’ of Abingdon as ‘so much of the river as lies between Nuneham railway bridge and a point two hundred yards measured upstream from the junction of the Andersey backwater with the river near Culham bridge’. In 2023, taking account of modern measurements and jurisdictions, this is defined as follows:
The corporate fisheries consist of the whole of the waters of the River Thames from Nuneham Railway Bridge to the notice board 180 metres up stream from Culham footbridge. There is, however, only a right of way (no fishing) along the Abingdon Lock property of the Environment Agency (Thames Region). Abingdon Marina, Swift Ditch, Culham Reach and above Nuneham Railway Bridge are all outside the control of the town council and require the permission of the owners before fishing. There is no fishing 100m below or 200m above Abingdon Lock or from the island or the weir.’
Fishing on the river
Abingdon owns the rights to the fisheries from bank to bank including the bed and therefore fishing from anywhere within the waters requires a permit. This is not necessarily the case in other towns but Abingdon’s fishing rights are unique and historic. Many fishermen in the town have permits to enable them to fish from boats.
For the purposes of deciding who qualifies as a local resident and thus entitled to a free permit, the Act (section 52) defines a ‘local resident’ as ‘any person who for the time being is registered in the local government register of electors as a resident of premises situated within three miles of the guildhall in the borough.’ The person is required to have been resident for at least three months.