A Club rooted in local tradition…
Wildfowling on the coast and marshes of East Anglia has a history going back hundreds of years. Originally, wildfowl were looked upon by local people as a valuable source of food which was hunted for the table or for sale commercially. During the course of the 19th century, however, wildfowling became recognised as a sport and many of the old gunners were able to supplement their incomes by acting as guides to the better-off gentleman wildfowlers who visited the east coast. Wildfowling, however, remained principally a sport of the local community.
Recognising that their sport was under threat from loss of wildfowl habitat, pollution and the closure of marshes to local people, a far-sighted group of wildfowlers under the leadership of Stanley Duncan, a railway engineer from Hull, formed the Wildfowlers Association of Great Britain and Ireland (WAGBI). The association grew slowly at first, but soon started promoting the formation of wildfowling clubs around the UK.
Leiston Schoolmaster Bill Newberry decided that if something was not done to bring together the local wildfowlers, then the free shooting that they had enjoyed for generations would disappear.
Together with Frank Etchells he formed the Leiston and District Wildfowlers Association, renting the shooting over marshes owned by the Rope family at Eastbridge, close to what is now the RSPB Minsmere reserve, for the princely sum of £1 a year. Adjacent to this was ‘The Front’, running from what is now Sizewell B to Minsmere sluice. With permission from the Ogilvie family, this also became a club shooting area.
Meanwhile the Aldeburgh wildfowlers enjoyed shooting on Aldeburgh Town Marsh under the terms of an ancient Charter, and beyond that was the tidal Alde and Ore estuary where below the river wall the shooting rights were regarded as free-for-all. But things were soon to change.