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It’s a feeling that many can relate to and it’s one of the magical experiences that he still seeks as he enters his more mature years. Martin became one of a group of young guys that fished regularly, enjoying the banter, comradely and competition that started to build. He was inquisitive, always asking questions. He even admits to being a pain in the arse as he searched for answers. “That’s probably why I’ve got time for kids these days, because I know what I was like.”

They fished all the waters in the

area and it was one event at Colne Valley that further ‘pushed’ Martin into the trade. “Lee Jackson had a forty from ‘the lake down the road’, so we started fishing it. “There was no specialist carp gear in those days, but what we had was still attractive to thieves.

“After a session in the pub, I

returned to my Capri only to find all my gear nicked. Pride of place was my Efgeeco seat box. I guess that is when I decided to start making my own kit.” The carp market as such was very much a cottage industry at the time, but it had loads of small companies making bits of pieces and the Hatfield Park Conference was THE place to find them.

“It was the start of what we call the ‘tackle tarts’.

His first bivvy was ‘Richie’s

Waterlot’ that he exchanged with Lloyd Bart from the Watford Carp Cellar. “We were selling needle bars at £10 each and I swapped ten with Lloyd for the bivvy.”

The close season became a particularly important time as the group of mates did their best to out do each other and come up with modifications on their tackle. “We were all looking to take things to the next step and wanted to improve the gear we were using.” As an apprentice turner Martin

probably had a bit of an advantage, particularly as he was surrounded by bits of metal and equipment where he worked. The company made machines for the Post Office and gun sights for tanks! “Although I was young, I was faster than a lot of the blokes I worked with. Most were members of the union and in those days if you made your quota, you just stopped work until you were given a new batch. I would spend my spare time and dinner hour making up stainless bank sticks, buzzer bars and other metal ware. No one cared, but when it came to redundancies and as I was the last in, I got kicked out with £1,000 in my back pocket. At the time I was making more money out of this than the daytime

job. With the money I was able to buy a lathe.” This turned out to be the start of

Martin’s fledgling business. “Micky Sly gave me my first ever machine. It was being stored around Lee Bamford’s house. Lee wanted to sell it, but Micky was happy to let me have it for nothing.”

He was also able to gain a £40 a week Enterprise Scheme Allowance from the Government.

The Monkey Climber was the

product that really launched the company with a staggering 50,000 units being sold in the first year. “They came in three sizes and four different colours.”

Content to stand behind a

machine, the dislike of paperwork and responsibility of actually ‘running’ a business is as strong today for Martin as it always has been.

As well as supplying his mates,

orders were received from Rod Hutchinson’s Catch ‘Em company. “Whatever you can make, I’ll sell,”

were the reassuring words from the carp legend.

“Myself and Bob Jones, who made

rods for Hutchy would drive up to Louth once a month to deliver the goods.

“It went well for a couple of years until Rod told us that he no longer wanted our stuff.” Welcome to the harsh world of business! Trying to button Martin down to exact dates is difficult. He has one of those brains that are constantly going off at tangents – parking thoughts before returning after graphically describing another tale. Home to the Solar empire was

mum’s three floor terraced house in a dead end street in Dartford. The ground floor was commandeered as was the garage and garden shed. “Mum was the boss,” recalls Martin


“I was happy to work for one week and take the other week off fishing, but often mum would put her foot

February 2018 | Tackle & Guns | 51

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