Cheshire Observer – Saturday 04 June 1892
A RARE VISITOR AT PARKGATE AND HIS RECEPTION. A sturgeon, over eight feet long, got into , difficulties through making too close an inspection of the Cheshire shore of the Dee Estuary on Saturday morning, and was eventually left high and dry on the sandbanks off Parkgate by the retreating tide. The strange visitor had evidently floundered out of a neighbouring channel while the tide was ebbing, and when discovered he was expressing his dissatisfaction at the perilous position , in which he found himself by beating the wet banks with his fins and tail. Two boys first noticed the strange object on the sands and venturing to make a close inspection they found to their intense astonishment that it was a monstrous fish. The boys ran to Neston with the intelligence, and the father of one of them— Jonathan Mellor, a Neston fisher- man—hurried to the banks, and, taking possession of the prize, had it towed ashore over the soft mud; The monster was still alive when brought to the slip, and it was afterwards laid on a sail in a handcart, and dragged in triumph through the streets of Neston to an outbuilding where it was exhibited to the curious at a uniform charge of twopence per head The enterprising owner reaped quite a small harvest of copper coins by the show, and if the giant possessed all the qualities claimed for him by the local fishermen, the exhibition was decidedly cheap at the price, for it was gravely asserted that a guest might be served with ‘fish, flesh or fowl, ‘according to the portion of the carcase operated upon by the carver. The owner, however, was in dilemma as to how his capture was to be finally disposed of for, rightly or wrongly, the fishermen are embued with the idea that they have no more claim to a sturgeon than they have to a stranded vessel, and are haunted with the fear of such dire penalties as overtook those who, in ancient times, poached the king’s deer. Owing to this belief, the smaller specimens which are sometimes caught are spirited away to the large towns with as much secrecy as if they were contraband goods, and the fishermen concerned are bedewed with the cold perspiration of fear for weeks afterwards. The local encyclopedias state emphatically that sturgeon only becomes crown property when he strays into that portion of the Thames which is within the jurisdiction of the Lord Mayor of London; the ‘History of Wirral’ observes a profound silence upon the subject, and a telegram to the Dee Fishery Board only elicited the mystifying reply ‘Not in the jurisdiction of the Board. Royal Fish.’ The Custom House officials at Connah’s Quay, on being applied to wired to ask if the captor could dispose of his booty on the spot, thereby inferring that they intended to have a finger in the pie, and up to Monday morning there was every prospect of the ‘royal fish’ becoming a ‘white elephant’ of the first order. It was, however, taken to Liverpool for disposal. The measurement along the back from the muzzle to the extremity of the forked tail was 8ft 9 ½ inches, and in a straight line across the side 8ft 6 inches. The fish was sold in Liverpool for a lump sum of £2 10s, when all expenses were paid. The lucky fisherman’s profit did not amount to much more than half that sum. The Dee fishermen would gladly welcome any information as to whether the Queen, the Lord of the Manor, or any other person in authority can exercise any prerogative with regard to sturgeon caught in the Dee. It seems ridiculous to suppose that a poor fisherman would be despoiled in the manner indicated, but such nevertheless, is the firm belief of these hardy toilers of the Dee.