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History of the Goddess

The Golden Goddess

This was one of the earliest reliable glass fibre blanks to ever come on to the angling scene and came via by a company called D.A.M. The first rod that this blank was used on was a 10ft 6inch two piece Avon built by Lee’s of Redditch in 1958.
Don mc. B Neish of Don’s of Edmonton has told me recently that my father Jack Hilton had showed him one of these Avon’s of which he had brought from Lee’s and that one of the first things that Don noticed was that the rod had been painted black before being built up, but that the actual blank beneath was a golden brown colour of which he quite rightly thought was a lot more pleasing to the eye. Don eventually managed to persuade Lee’s to start selling these blanks to him in around 1960.
Don by this time had a vast knowledge and a wealth of experience in rod building, so upon the arrival of these new blanks in his workshop he was then able to plan out just what he thought would most suit them to produce a very good general coarse rod with a test curve of around 11/4lb. The first blanks arrived in two pieces and were 10ft-10inches in total length, they cost at the time 17/6 (Seventeen shillings and sixpence) each, which is around 87.5 pence today. These blanks were made using phenolic resin which created a problem of them sticking to the mandrels during production, to get over this the manufactures had to wrap the mandrels with cellophane of which stayed attached to the inside the blank when it was removed from the mandrel after being baked. The first job that Don had to do was remove the roasted cellophane from inside the blanks, for this he had made up a special tool which was a long piece of metal rod which was splayed over slightly at the top end, with this he was able to rake out the inside of the blank removing the cellophane in shards. Lee’s did not remove this cellophane from their rods, which as a consequence their rods used to rattle while being used.
The second job was to test the walls of the blank, this test was needed due to the way in which the blank was actually formed when the resin and glass fibre was wrapped and rolled around the mandrel to such a thin gauge then baked, this left pin holes within the blank walls. The test was to discover whether the blank had too many of these pin holes within its walls and if so then would be too weak to withstand any angling use. The smoke test was the natural way forward as Don and his colleagues most of which were smokers at that time used to puff smoke from their cigarettes up in to the blank sections. If excess smoke was released out through these pin holes, then the blank was scrapped, if it passed the test and very little smoke came out then it was considered that the blank would be strong enough to be used. Some of the butt sections were cut down and stiffened up by having a section of beech dowel approximately 24inches in length inserted in to the end of the blank by around 5 inches this was spliced in with araldite and a tapered whipping; while other Goddess’s had the corks fitted straight on to the blank with a fish based glue called Lepages fish glue which stuck almost anything to anything. Most of the Goddess’s ended up around 10ft 7inches in total length with the tip ring fitted. Cork of 7/8inch diameter was then used to form a 26 & 5/8inch full-length handle fitted with black anodised aluminium Chapman’s reel fittings.

The joint was formed using a brass suction type male and female ferrule. The female part was matched to near the size of the bottom section of the blank and made to fit with fish glue. The male ferrule was then glued on and a tapered whipping then used to help hold this firmly in place. The rod sections were then built up using Gottlieb medium size coarse rings which were made in Germany along with a French Cromex tip ring. Most of these rods also carry the builders initials and were dated for example Bill Keal’s Goddess reads D M -25262- meaning that the rod builder was Don Neish and that it was built on 25th February 1962. The rods were then finished with five coats of Copal varnish.

Don then sold these completed rods under the name of “Golden Goddess” due to their colour for a price of £6-12 (six pounds and twelve shillings) each; he also sold the blanks for home builds as favoured by my dad as he enjoyed building his own rods as well. The Golden Goddess became a very well used and much loved general coarse rod by many anglers including a few well known faces such as Bill Keal, John Roberts, Frank Guttfield and my father Jack Hilton.
At this time my dad persuaded Don that these blanks would also make good rods for carp fishing, although Don personally thought that they were a little on the light side but possibly due to my dads enthusiasm he decided to build some up of which my dad thought were very good and used them for quite a while for carp and pike fishing.

The Fly Rods

During the latter part of the 1960s Richard Walker asked Don if he could build him a rod suitable for fishing at Graffham water. So Don set out a design based on the Goddess blanks. Don first arranged that these blanks be delivered in one piece at 9ft 6inches in total length. The first rod was named the Graffham Ghost and was cut for a rod length of 9ft–6inches. Don then designed and built a second rod which he named the Graffham Nymph. This rod was 10ft–6inches long and involved the use of the Goddess butt section and the top section of another blank, which was different in colour. It may be interesting to note, that Don had developed his own glass fibre spigot by this time for the middle joint replacing the old brass ferule type.

Later Goddess

In 1967 another highly creative and professional rod builder by the name of Alan Brown managed to obtain some later and more modern glass-fibre blanks. These were very similar in their colour, action and build, having the same ultra thin walls as the first Goddess blanks. Alan decided to keep the weight to a minimum and the performance to a maximum, and so fitted these rods with the very latest small diameter hollow glass-fibre spigots to form the joint and then used a hollow duralumin tube inserted into the butt section to make up the total length of these rods again to 10ft-7inches with the same test curve of around 11/4lb. These were also available as complete rods or as blanks for home builds.

This later model of Jack’s own home built Goddess has a slim 13/16inch diameter 24inch full length cork handle fitted with John Roberts reel fittings along with fine coarse rings made by Wakefield & Fordham with a legged tip ring made by Gottlieb. This was the version of the Goddess that was favoured most by Jack, and l think that this was due to all of the modifications that had been achieved. This later Goddess was an extremely light rod with an improved performance also benefiting from the later type spigot. Although this was an ideal rod for Tench, Barbel, Pike, Chub, and Bream Jack would also quite often use these rods in his pursuit for Carp and would always refer to the performance of these rods as a benchmark for all his other rods including his own carp rod. Jack went on to catch his largest Carp, a mirror weighing 40lb 3oz from Redmire pool in July 1972 with his Goddess seen here.

Hilton Quest Goddess

The new generation of this classic rod is hand built in England, using the latest and finest quality British made 11ft honey coloured over-fit type carbon-fibre Harrison blank, with a test curve of approximately 11/4lb. We have used S-lite rings; finished in gun smoke with tan whippings throughout. These fine lightweight rings complement the actions of this light blank, a hook retaining ring is a standard fitting on this rod. Cork of 7/8inch diameter has been used to form a 22inch full length handle, which is finished with a fine metal but cap. This is a slightly thicker and shorter handle than on Jack’s own rods but we feel is a benefit to today’s anglers while stalking and playing fish in overgrown and confined locations. Reel fittings are either the classic lightweight John Roberts type or the later Fuji reel seat if preferred.

Considerable thought has gone in to the design of this rod along with the careful choice of materials selected for the construction. We feel that this has resulted in this rod closely resembling the originals, but with inherent advantages in performance during many different conditions making it an ideal rod for Tench, Barbel, Pike, Chub and Bream, l too also use mine in the pursuit of Carp from some of the smaller waters such as Redmire.

Don’s Seal Of Approval
While we were developing this new Goddess l mentioned what we were doing to Don Neish and he sounded very interested, upon showing him our completed rod he was more than pleasantly surprised. His first comment was that the build quality and finish of this rod was to an extremely high standard also that the ring sizes were correct and sensible for this type of rod. He put the rod together and then tested the action, he turned to me and said “everything about this rod say’s Goddess to me and you are most welcome to use the Goddess name that l gave to the original rods”
The Goddess has for nearly 50 years performed very well and given many anglers numerous happy and exciting experiences at the waters edge along with many fond memories of their past catches. We wish this to continue with our new Hilton Quest Goddess.


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