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50 years ago in Eccles: ‘Son of Jaws’ lands boy in hospital

I should imagine we have all heard fisherman’s stories about the size of the one that got away, however one young Eccles lad lived to tell the tale of the one that didn’t get away and stayed around long enough to put him into hospital.

David Banfield, 14, who lived at Talbot Street, decided one summery June day that an afternoon of fishing on the nearby Bridgewater canal would be the ideal way to pass the time, sadly he was to be proven very wrong.

David, along with a few chums from school, decided that the ideal spot to catch that elusive big one would be a spot on the canal close to the now demolished Barton Power Station.

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Before young David could cast his rod into the murky water of the Bridgewater canal, disater was to befall him.

When his rickety bicycle hit a bump on the towpath a fountain pen fell out of his pocket and dropped into the canal.

He quickly leapt from his bike and made an attempt to rescue the prized pen as he could still see it slowly sinking.

As he put his arm into the water in an effort to retrieve it, he was in for a nasty shock.

He felt a sharp nip on his arm and as he pulled his arm out of the water to his horror found deep teeth marks in his arm followed by a steady stream of blood.

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It would appear that a pike possibly attracted by the shiny pen in the water saw David’s arm and decided to take a chunk out of it.

Pikes are vicious predators and although their main diet is fish, they can swallow larger prey including frogs, mice, toads, turtles and even ducklings.

The Brigewater Canal is home to a huge variety of wildlife – now even these giant terrapins roam the waters looking for prey.

David’s pals, 14-year-olds Peter Greenhalgh and Tina Evans, who lived on Boardman Street, and Eric Smith, who lived in the Ship Canal pub on Barton Lane, walked the bleeding boy to the ambulance station in Barton.

From there he was taken by ambulance to Hope Hospital where three stitches were put into the wound and no doubt a tetanus injection.

This brush with the son of Jaws wasn’t going to deter a plucky fisherman like David, for he told the reporter from the Eccles and Patricroft Journal that he intended going back the next week, with a new bait – presumably not his arm – and catching the pike that had so viciously attacked him.

Is David Banfield or any of his chums mentioned in this article are still living local and more to the point did David ever catch that predatory pike?

If so please contact me tonyflynn@salfordonline.com or join our 17,000-strong Facebook group and we shall share your fishy story with the world.

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SalfordOnline.com's Local History Editor and Senior Reporter.