Broad Street Wrington ARCHIVE
Dr Howard Bell
THE FIELD obituary Sarah Avery's recollections Dr Tricks & Val Yeoman on Dr Bell
One of the memorable figures recalled by Tony Loach and Trevor Wedlake in their reminiscences on the Schmoose page, was Dr Howard Bell, for many years the only doctor in the village.

More recent residents will be aware of Bell's Walk by the school - the route he and Mrs Bell took when walking down from their house at the top of the school field - where Home Close now stands.

Following an inquiry to Trevor, Tony was able to track down this article from The Field, in which his prowess at field sports was commemorated.

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 THE FIELD 6 February 1975

Doctor Howard A Bell

Many generations of Blagdon fishers will read with regret of the
death of Dr Bell, of Wrington.

After Cambridge and a London hospital, he served overseas as a
Regimental Medical Officer during the First World War. Finally he took up practice at Wrington and neighbouring Blagdon. He fished the lake throughout the season every Friday except during his annual
holiday on the Spey.

It is no exaggeration to say he revolutionized bank fishing at
Blagdon, as up to the early 'twenties a 'banker' used either small
salmon/ties or large-winged trout flies. Lures after dark. Bell never used either.

His knowledge of entomology was profound. Furthermore, his
representation of the Blagdon Buzzer, Corixa beetle and amber nymph resulted from careful examination of the underwater life over
many years and the autopsies that he carried out on every fish he caught.

This study may have set the pace for aquatic research, now a feature
of lake and reservoir fishing. The present-day catalogue is fitting
testimony to the scientific observation of which Bell, however well deserved, would never have taken any degree of credit. His 'silver horn' with a sparsely tied turkey wing was discarded and superseded by the worm fly. He originated the Grenadier, the name, he said, conveying the idea of a 'red coat'.

The lake

Some chance meetings took place before acquaintanceship blossomed
into friendship, always bearing in mind that Bell was primarily at the
lake to fish. Outside his front window he had built a goldfish pond, shaped to the scale of Blagdon, which solved the problem of having
to point out to a fishing friend a particular spot on this ever fascinating fishery.

He was also a keen and expert gardener, making quite a name as a
grower of high-class apples. After retirement, sadly missed by his patients, he continued to tend his garden and exercise his wirehaired terrier.

Increasing age, even when accompanied by his friend the local policeman, finally brought an end to this outstanding fishing career.


Remembering Dr Bell

Following on from the request for information on Dr Bell, I'd like to tell
you of my earliest memories of Dr. Bell. It must be at least fifty years
ago, now, when I was taken to his surgery in the house off Ropers Lane.

It seemed to be a very large, dark waiting room, with chairs around the
edge with shiny brown, squeaky seats. Am I right in recognising some of
the sketches which are now in the modern surgery in Station Road? There
were certainly a series of rather awesome caricatures, at least from a
child's point of view!

Mrs Bell was always there, and the two of them most friendly and caring in
my memory, with a wonderful sense of humour. My best recollection was when
Dr Bell was locum one day when I was ill at boarding school, Westwing (at
that time the school was at Langford Court, all of three miles from my

He came in to the dormitory, and whether or not I had a chest
infection I cannot
remember, but his remedy: "what you need is a lick of
Vick" was not for the
ointment of that name, but for a lick from our dog,
Vicky! He cured my illness and my homesickness all in one visit.

My l
ast memories, not so very long ago, are of Mrs Bell walking their little
dog down Iwood Lane. At least, the dog trotted along, while Mrs Bell
drove the car very slowly the length of the lane! I don't know if this
tallies with other people's memories, but I cherish them, and would love to
see some of the others if and when you get them in print!

Sarah Avery (née Midgley)