Dick Walker’s Clarissa reel found in rubbish

Delighted to reunite the old tackle – Chris Ball and Chris Sandford (Image credit: Angler's Mail)

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Antique tackle collector Chris Sandford has tracked down the Mitchell Half Bail reel used by Richard Walker to catch record 44 lb common carp Clarissa from Redmire Pool on September 13, 1952.

He has now reunited it with Walker’s homemade Mk.IV cane rod that he built and used to catch the famous carp.

Hampshire-based Chris, 81, who appeared in Coronation Street in the 1960s and then became a successful voiceover actor, explained: “I’ve been collecting vintage fishing tackle for over 30 years. My prize possession is the rod that Richard Walker caught Clarissa on, which I got about ten years ago.

“Although I have made endless enquiries trying to track down the reel that Walker used when he caught the record, no one had any idea where it might be hiding.

“I recently got a call from carp historian Chris Ball. His first sentence stopped me in my tracks: ‘Morning mate, I think I might have found the Clarissa reel’.

“The next six weeks were spent carefully going over the provenance that came with the reel, and when Chris and I were both satisfied that the story was completely genuine, I made an offer that was accepted.

“When I collected the reel and drove off with it, I must admit that I had tears in my eyes. I never thought I’d get it.

“Sadly, the Mitchell Half Bail reel was in pretty poor condition, but once again I got lucky.

“Jonathon Savory, who I consider to be the finest rod restorer alive today, was just completing an amazing restoration of the Clarissa rod. He looked at the reel for a long time and then offered to ‘bring it forward’. He did an amazing job, and I’m so pleased with the result.

“I’ve got no idea what they are worth together, but I’m never going to sell them. I know one similar reel went for £10,000, but they’re only really worth what someone is prepared to pay. When I pop my clogs, I’d like the set to be auctioned off and all the money raised go to a charity such as Great Ormond Street Hospital.

“I hope to take the combo to the next The Carp Society show, as they are of such historic importance,” added Chris.

Back together – Dick Walker’s old rod now has its reel attached

Back together – Dick Walker’s old rod now has its reel attached (Image credit: Angler's Mail)

Tackle restorer Jonathon Savory said: “As you might expect, the reel was internally clogged with all manner of grease and grime. After a careful disassembly and intense cleaning, I only had to replace a couple of shims to get it running perfectly.

“I know Chris was a little concerned about the reel’s appearance, but I honestly feel that the external wear only heightens the sense of history surrounding what was, until recently, considered to be a lost artefact.

“Reunited with Walker’s Mk.IV, it must form a pairing of invaluable importance to the world of modern carp fishing.”

The reel find and restoration has really pleased carp historian Chris Ball.

Chris told Angler’s Mail: “Richard Walker’s Mitchell reel was thought to have been lost in the mists of time.

“With this historic reel coming to light, it means the ‘Holy Trinity’ of tackle (the rod, net and reel used by Richard Walker to capture a new British record carp) are now safely preserved. It’s great news.”

Angler's Mail

Running from 1964 until 2020, Angler's Mail was the UK's leading weekly magazine devoted to coarse fishing, telling readers everything they needed to know about which fish to catch, where to catch them, and what kit they needed to do it. Now, loads of the magazine's expert advice can be found on Advnture.com, as a helpful resource for angling newcomers and experts alike.