Above Deryck Huby with a kype. ThesE were constructed by pushing hazel rods into the ground and weaving upwards from the narrow end. The texture of the weave was tight enough to contain the fish but loose
enough to prevent water building up and washing the salmon over the top.
Image: Jacqueline Sarsby. 2001

To make putchers, nine split willow staves were placed into nine holes in a jig and the ‘rings’ were woven around these. The rings widened as extra staves were added and the split ones separated into singles. Afterwards the putcher was turned over to ‘nose it up’.
Image: Jacqueline Sarsby. 2001.

Deryck weaves tje ‘nose’ of the putcher.
Image: Jacqueline Sarsby. 2001

Oak, larch or elm staves were driven into the bed of the river at right angles to the tide. Putchers were locked between these frames in double or treble height rows.
Image: Environment Agency. 1970’s.

The fish weir, or fixed engine, is a method of catching fish, especially salmon, unique to the River Severn. Today this tradition, dating back to the 5th century, has all but ceased. Salmon stocks have dwindled due to overfishing and the discovery of their feeding grounds in the north Atlantic.

The Severn has a 40’ differential in tidal height, the second largest in the world. Fishing on the weirs was licensed between April 15 and August 15 until

1999, when the start date changed to June 1. It was treacherous work requiring knowledge of the river, fierce tides and winds. This was passed down through generations of fishing families.

The fishermen made the traps. For putchers, two or three year old willow rods were cut from pollarded trees between October and February, sorted into staves (long uprights), meters (short uprights) and working stuff. The rods were left for three weeks to season before being woven. Kypes, large traps, were made using hazel rods. A kype could catch anything from a sturgeon to a shrimp. Weirs consisted of ranks of putchers. There could be several thousand at a time at any one location, in sets of frames.

Fish were usually caught on the ebb tide. At certain places ‘hedges’ or ‘leaders’, rows of fencing woven from hazel, drove the salmon towards the fishing, which generally faced upstream. On entering the funnel of the trap the salmon could not turn in the running tide and were caught in the narrow end.

Deryck Huby and Don Riddle. The different parts ofa kype (or putt) are the forewheel 6’- 8’ across,
the butt and the diddle. Bigger fish were caught in the butt and shrimps in the diddle.
Image: Jacqueline Sarsby.

Putchers were put in place before the season began and removed at the end. Their average life was three years. Hundreds of new ones were made each year.
Image: Environment Agency. 1970’sestuary

Putchers were tied into place on the fish weir.
Environment Agency 1970’s.


Oak, larch or elm staves were driven into the bed of the river at right angles to the tide. Putchers were locked between these frames in double or treble height rows.
Image: Environment Agency. 1970’s.

Salmon were also caught in nets.

The Y shaped hand-held lave nets demanded skill, courage and agility to use and fish were netted as they rushed upstream through the shallows.

Long nets were made specially to suit the part of the river where they were used. These were up to 200 yards in length and operated by up to four men and a boat.

Stop nets were operated from specially built stopping boats with a shallow draught in the broad reaches of the Severn where the river runs fiercely through the channel.

Salmon were also caught using a spear or leister that dated back to prehistoric times. Spears were prohibited and so were the tool of the poacher.

A torch or flare was used at night to lure salmon to the shore where they could easily be speared.
Collection: Gloucester Folk Museum

Eels, elvers (young eels) and lampreys and twaite were also caught by various methods. Eels were caught in putcheons woven from willow. Inside each trap were fitted one or two constricted throats or chales that were worked into position during the making of the trap, directed towards the narrow end so that the eel, once caught, was unable to turn around and get out. A piece of rabbit or lamprey acted as bait in the narrow end and the opening was stopped with a wooden plug. The trap was weighted with stone, laid in the river and tethered to the bank.


Putcheon in the Gloucester Folk Museum


Eel box or trunk to keep eels alive in the river until required.
Gloucester Folk Museum

Basket for transporting lampreys to the east coast as bait for cod. A man would have to travel with it to stir the lampreys and keep them alive.
Gloucester Folk Museum