Probably few conchologists can pin-point the exact time and place at which they first became interested in their hobby. On the afternoon of 20 May 1919, when a sixteen year old boy at Kingswood, I set out to cycle from Bath to Trowbridge, but never reached there. The reason was not an accident or breakdown (such as frequently happened), but the fact that the road ran close to the Kennet and Avon canal near Claverton. Water always exercising an irresistible attraction, I chained up my bicycle (a superfluous precaution) and inspected the canal. The water was shallow and perfectly clear and full of lifes a letter I wrote to my sister records swarms of roach, also newts, tadpoles, water rats, water shrews, water beetles, caddis and dragonfly larvae, "and also a great variety of fresh¬water shellfish." The dry mud along the banks was also full of empty shells of all sorts; "what surprised me most, however, was the great number of large bivalves, like big mussels." I had never seen anything like these before, the only freshwater shells I had previously collected being two Lymnaea glabra casually picked out of an old tin in a pond at Sennen in Cornwall.
I took away as many shells as I could accommodate and returned later for more. A copy of Rimmer in the school reference library enabled the specimens to be identified. My life-long interest in non-marine Mollusca therefore began at about 3 p.m. on 20 May 1919? where the Bradford-on-Avon road runs by the canal just north of Claverton near Bath. No memorial yet marks the spot.
A. E. Ellis