THE BOOK OF DUCK DECOYS.
| Taking a line eastward to the coast at Wainfleet, we come to a well known district for Decoys, and where, before the East and West Fens were drained in the early years of the present century (1809), no less than a dozen flourishing Decoys existed, and of which little trace now remains, save one. This one is the oft-spoken-of Friskney Decoy, and the trustees of the Booth estate at Friskney have recently purchased it in order to preserve it, as far as possible, in its original state, as a memento of past times.|
Friskney New, Decoy, 4 miles SW. of Wainfleet, in the parish of Friskney, and 3 miles from Wainfleet Railway Station. It was once one of the best in the county, but has not been worked since 1878.
This Decoy was in full work with six nets up to 1855, under John Skelton, who succeeded Henry Skelton (see page 13). The average take during the seasons previous to this date was 3 to 4 dozen birds a day, and the best day's work was 300 to 400 fowl. In one year Skelton is once said to have sold £700 worth of birds. But as the land around became cultivated, the Decoy declined, and so two nets were discontinued from 1855 to 1860, ; after the latter date only three nets were used. In 1806 John Skelton left the Decoy, and it was then worked by Mr. Crowe, Whose best take was 85 ducks in one day, and but 1,100 in one season (1866).
It appears, from White's "Directory," that in 1809 an Act was obtained for embanking, enclosing, and draining the marshes around Friskney, which were then generally flooded for six months in the year, and had several extensive Decoys, in which upwards of 30,000 head of Duck, Teal, and Wigeon have been taken in one season, and sent to the London market. All but one of these Decoys (Friskney) have given place to fertile corn-fields.
The pool now being described consisted of an acre and a half, and was surrounded by 14 acres of wood. It had formerly, as stated, six pipes, but latterly only three, and is now no longer in working order; though the outline of the pond is still plainly visible, some of the old hoops and stakes being still to be seen.
This Decoy was the original home of old George Skelton (senior), and it was from here he emigrated to Norfolk, and taught the Norfolk Decoymen how to work and make Decoys of moderate size, in opposition to their previous habit of attaching Decoy pipes to large broads and meres. How well he succeeded is elsewhere shown. (See Winterton Norfolk, and p. 11.)