Fenn traps history
The history of the Fenn trap goes back to the early 20th century with the birth of Alan Fenn on 18/06/1918 to Emma and Albert Wilkin Fenn at Dalling, Norfolk. He died on 21st October 2001.
At the time of his patent, (about 1960), the factory was then known as the FHT Works, but more recently is described as the Double Century Works in High Street, Astwood Bank, Redditch – a grade II listed building.
It was the demise of the gin trap, brought about by the Pests Act in 1954 (Sect.8) which spurred trap manufacturers to develop new designs. To speed development of a humane design, the Government funded a scheme to reward inventors of suitable designs. A total of five inventors were awarded as follows:- Mr F.E. Sawyer (Imbra trap), Mr A.A. Fenn £850, Mr R.W. Juby £750 (Juby trap), Mr J.W. Legg £200, Mr R.C. Fuller £100. It is interesting to note that £2,000 remains available to be awarded for a suitable humane fox trap!
Fenn patented his innovative design, with the final Mark4 being granted Patent Number 763881. At one stage Fenn produced many different trapping products such as Larsen traps and a variety of cages. These are now very rare as they were discontinued several years ago.
In his declining years, the business was operated by his son Graham Fenn but this was sold eventually to a small family business who still produce the Fenn Mark 4 and Fenn Mark 6 models in Redditch.
Other Trap Brands
Mark4 and Mark6 traps are also manufactured with the “Springer” brand. This business has been owned and operated since 1985 by the previous works manager at Fenns. They are also based in Redditch and also manufacture traps on behalf of another organisation and these are sold under the “Solway” brand name.
Fenn style traps must be used in tunnels. That is the law. The efficacy of the trap is dependent on tunnel roof being at the correct height. That is, there should be hardly any gap above the jaws when closed. The Fenn traps were originally developed to be used on the ground and although there are now some innovative ideas for using Fenns ‘off the ground’ they still need to be set a flat, level surface.
The popularity of the Fenn design meant that it was exported in considerable volumes particularly to Commonwealth countries in the 1950’s and 60’s. Australia and New Zealand were volume importers. However changing legislation there resulted in their decline and the Fenn spring trap was displaced in NZ by the DOC type trap. This is a stronger and more effective trap which is also used in a tunnel. It is looking increasingly likely that the DOC will emerge in the UK, if and when the current legislation changes.