A 1934/35 unfired German bullet, pulled out of the river in Mountsorrel, is one of Mr. Jamie Middleton’s most interesting finds. He loves the way objects can lead him into tracing their past as did this bullet. Through his own efforts he discovered the year it was made and where - in Germany. What he would love to know is how it got into the Soar!
But the bullet isn’t alone. It is only one of many finds Mr. Middleton has discovered since he took up magnet fishing three years ago. There have been bits of scrap metal, horseshoes, lock-keys, coins, a supermarket trolley (of course), and even a full-size BMX bike. The double-sided magnet itself looks quite small yet can pull 200kg so is amazingly strong. With a large object, like a bike, a grappling hook is used to lift the object out of the water.
But what happens to the objects once found? I learnt that Mr. Middleton cleans up his interesting finds and keeps them in his shed taking unwanted scrap metal to dealers who buy it by weight. However, this isn’t a hobby to make you rich, the dealers don’t give you much, it’s just an enjoyable riverside pastime that is intrinsically interesting and quite sociable as walkers stop and ask what you’re doing. At present it is also relatively free of regulation as anyone with a magnet on a rope can hurl it into water anywhere they like. The opposite is true of its land-based equivalent, metal detecting, as this is highly regulated. Mr. Middleton, who lives on Nottingham Road in Barrow, usually goes out magnet fishing about twice a month on Sundays and isn’t put off by bad weather. He’s undoubtedly the hardy type and used to fish for fish (!) so has good wet-weather gear.
Although he has trawled many rivers and canals in Leicestershire, he mostly magnet fishes in the River Soar and the Grand Union Canal. Surprisingly, although this sport has become popular during lockdown he has never met another magnet fisherman out at the same time as he is. Barrow Voice did hear of another family from the village that went magnet fishing but unfortunately the contact wasn’t maintained.