Anglers reel in quite a catch to fund major lake upgrade

Emily Hunter of The Banks Group is flanked by Ernie Playford (left) and Brendan Heslop of the Wansbeck & Cramlington Angling Club at the Milkhope Lake.
Emily Hunter of The Banks Group is flanked by Ernie Playford (left) and Brendan Heslop of the Wansbeck & Cramlington Angling Club at the Milkhope Lake.

MEMBERS of a popular Northumberland angling club have reeled in a five-figure grant from a regional developer to pay for a substantial upgrade of their facilities.

The Wansbeck & Cramlington Angling Club, which operates from the Milkhope Lake on the Blagdon Estate and the QEII Country Park Lake at Ashington, has about 470 members.

A £32,761 grant from the Banks Group, via its Community Fund, has paid for around four feet of silt to be dredged from the bottom of the Milkhope Lake, which will help improve fishing conditions by enhancing the oxygen levels in the water as well as increasing its capacity.

And it has also covered the cost of levelling and rebuilding of the lake’s west bank to provide an island pier, which can be better accessed by more of the club’s 70 disabled members.

It was restocked last year with carp, roach, bream and tench, with a further stocking planned for the spring, and club chairman and treasurer Brendan Heslop hopes that all the improvements that are being made will lead to a further increase in member and visitor numbers.

He said: “While we’ve always provided a popular destination for anglers from across the area, there have been some problems with water and oxygen levels and we’ve seen the silt build up over a number of years, so having it removed is going to make a huge difference to everyone who uses the lake.

“Having so many disabled people among our membership shows what an accessible sport angling is, and adding the new pier to the western side of the lake will mean that up to three wheelchair users and their helpers will be able to fish at the same time in much more comfortable conditions.

“Making these changes has required a major investment that would have been beyond the club’s resources and we’re extremely grateful to Banks for its donation, which will benefit members both now and long into the future.”

Banks has worked in south east Northumberland for more than three decades and is the company behind the nearby Brenkley Lane and Shotton surface mines that employ around 200 people, as well as the Northumberlandia visitor attraction in which £3million was invested in partnership with The Blagdon Estate.

Environment and community director Mark Dowdall said: “This is a popular destination for a very wide cross-section of the local community, from young children to OAPs, and we hope the work that has been done helps to bring in even more people to enjoy some time by the water.

“Our long-held aim is to help make improvements to the communities in which we’re working, and this is just the latest of many such investments that we’ve been able to make in this part of the region though our local surface mining operations.”

Originally founded more than 30 years ago, the Wansbeck & Cramlington Angling Club attracts members from right across the local area, including over 50 junior members, and hosts a range of competitive events and fixtures against other regional angling clubs. For details, visit

Projects, community groups, or voluntary organisations looking for funding in the vicinity of a Banks Group development should contact Pauline Johnson at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 3786342.