Tributes to major UK trade editor

The death has been announced of probably the most famous editor in the history of UK trade magazine Tackle & Guns, Cyril Holbrook, writes John Mitchell.

He passed away on Thursday, November 11th, aged 86 years old. Cyril had survived three bouts of cancer but, as his son Paul, said: “You can’t be a winner all the time.”

Cyril was editor of Tackle & Guns from 1974 to 1986, in the days when it was owned by the family company EMAP National Publications, based in Peterborough.

He worked alongside other famous editors including Jack Thorndyke on Trout and Salmon, and Peter Collins on Sea Angler, in the days when magazine circulations were reaching their peaks and magazine advertising was the only means of product promotion.

Cyril was commonly credited with developing Tackle & Guns into the fishing and gun trades’ very own trade magazine. He knew everyone, he was honest and straightforward, he had an encyclopaedic memory and the driest sense of humour. Perhaps rarely for a journalist he was trusted implicitly.

Cyril worked alongside Fred Jarvis, the advertisement controller of EMAP, and when you got the two of them together, there was nothing in the fishing tackle or gun trades that they did not know. A morning on Gun Dealers Row on the first day of The Game Fair did on occasions result in a short sleep behind the EMAP Pavilion at lunchtime; the hospitality was so good.

When he retired from Tackle & Guns, Cyril and his wife Anne moved to Spain where they were joined by their son Paul. Cyril wrote a book and edited an ex-pats newspaper.

Although born in Cambridgeshire, Cyril and his family returned to their adopted home county of Norfolk when Anne’s health started to wane. Anne died in 2014.

Cyril, a frequent churchgoer, immersed himself in local affairs and the church was a prominent feature of his life. He lived in Swaffham with his son Paul and they enjoyed fishing together on the local lakes.

Not so many years ago he and son Paul were invited to the Tackle & Guns Trade Show Dinner as guests of honour. Some of the stories that were shared that evening certainly don’t bear any form of publication.

The trade has lost one of its founding fathers – a man who, in his way, encouraged the trade to think of magazines as assets and advertising as an investment.

Time moves on and we will not see Cyril’s like again, but some of us who were fortunate enough to work alongside him owe him a debt of gratitude because Cyril Holbrook was one of the best.

Cyril Holbrook (centre) with past T&G editors John Hunter (left) and Sean O’Driscoll (right) during the T&G Trade Show, where he was guest of honour in 2014.