William Rankine was a native of Lessudden, who, after a serious illness in his childhood, was left blind. This did not prevent him from following his favourite pastime - fishing. His special "beat" stretched from the foot of the Gullet to the Long Stream, and he seemed to know every yard of the river bed, and waded it with confidence.
Spring was his favourite time when there was more chance of catching a "big yin". In those days there was no "close season" so fishing continued throughout the year. Accompanied by a friend or a member of the family, he would approach the river's edge and ask "What's the water like?" "Is it drummly?" "Can ee see the bottom?" "Hoo faur is it up yon stane?" With the answers in his mind's eye, he would head off into the river.
At his shop in the Crescent, anglers could purchase all they needed, and have a friendly chat, exchanging stories about angling and, no doubt, about the one that got away. He was a very skilled fly dresser and could make up any pattern, although the help of his family was often needed to distinguish feathers and silks.
Always by his side was his faithful spaniel, Dinah, who sat patiently on the bank as he fished.
A well remembered tale of William Rankine - One day, a visiting angler found himself stranded on a ridge of gravel in the middle of the river. Shouting for help, he was guided back to the bank by a man on the bank who shouted out the instructions - "Take half a dozen steps up stream, turn left and go forward two steps and so on..." On reaching the bank, the angler discovered his saviour was a blind man - William Rankine.
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