This tubular glass beach fishing rod documents the recreational sport of saltwater fishing that has minimal representation in the Museum collection. Its significance comes from its production by Len Butterworth who was the first manufacturer of tubular glass rods in Australia, and use by Mr John Noble, a recreational fresh and saltwater fisherman from the 1960s.
Len Butterworth began producing split cane rods in 1939. An international cane shortage following World War II and the Korean War forced rod-makers to trial fibreglass. A new generation of Australian rod makers began producing quality fibreglass rods to international success.
Robert E Cox was the first Australian to produce a tubular fibreglass rod in 1952, using an imported blank. Len Butterworth was one of the earliest manufacturers of quality fibreglass rods. He began producing solid glass in the late 1950s, and set up the first Australian tubular glass factory in 1976. This rod profiles a well-known name in Australian rod-making, recalls the heyday of local rod manufacturers, and documents the transition from handcrafted split cane rods to fibreglass. The rights to the Len Butterworth name were bought by Jarvis Walker in 1980.
This rod also has the potential to communicate the development and popularity of recreational beach fishing in Sydney and New South Wales, the promotion of NSW as a fishing tourist destination, and weekend and leisure activities.
Fishing is one of the most popular pastimes and sports in Australia, and the NSW coastline renowned for excellent fishing. Beach fishing experienced a resurgence in the 1940s after the war, and again in the 1960s. Today fishing is a major recreational pastime for many Australians. A NSW Fisheries survey of Recreational Fishing in December 2002 estimated there were one million NSW recreational fishers, or 17.1% of the population.