B. James & Son Richard Walker MK IV c1953

A totally original early 'trumpet handle' MK IV built on Southwell split cane in outstanding condition.


This is the rod that all of us hanker after but very rarely come across; a totally original early B. James MK IV in superb original condition that’s as ready to fish with now as it was in 1953. It’s a proper MK IV, light, lissome, steely and tremendously good looking, rather like you, dear reader.

A quick historical re-cap: Richard Walker caught his record carp on the 13th of September 1952 using a carp rod he’d designed and built himself (the MK IV). Later that year, after a pre-production model had been inspected and approved subject to Walker’s suggested alterations, B. James & Son of Ealing, London, began commercial production of the MK IV. The first few were inscribed with Indian ink by James Bruce (proprietor of the firm) and whipped with Burgundy silk. Walker suggested that until suitable transfers were obtained, he’d inscribe the MK IVs as his handwriting was attractive and Mr Bruce’s wasn’t! Nobody knows how many rods Walker inscribed -perhaps a couple of dozen. They were mostly whipped with black and gold ‘Jasper’ silk. Thereafter, from early 1953, the MK IVs had transfers applied to the split cane before it was varnished. These rods were whipped in darker red silk, and sometimes with dark green silk.

This is such a rod, identified by its Ealing transfers (later models just said London), its distinctive trumpet shaped handle top and its blank, which was supplied by the outstanding maker of the time, Bob Southwell of Croydon. Later rods were built on split cane made by B. James & Son. It shows signs of light, sensible use only and has not suffered from the abuse or wear and tear that most rods of this age display.

I would recommend using it with reel lines of 8 – 10 lbs breaking strain and maximum casting weights, with bait, of about an ounce. Keep it dry and clean. Enjoy some satisfying classic carp fishing with it, but don’t use it where carp are likely to become heavily snagged or bogged down in Canadian pond weed. Show it respect, just as you do when you take your Aston Martin DB6 Volante Superleggera out for a spin.

Don’t drive the Aston into Canadian pond weed either. It’ll bugger the transmission.


10′ 2-piece split cane blank made from flame tempered hand split, hand planed Tonkin bamboo by Bob Southwell, retaining all of its original resilience and steeliness. It is as straight as the day it was completed.

The generously sized reinforced ferrules retain a snug fit and a nice patina to their blued and lacquered finish. The original acorn-shaped walnut and cork stopper is in place.

Rings are Amberfin butt and tip (the butt ring is clear) with chromed steel bridge intermediates. The original hook keeper ring is in place above the handle.

The whippings are dark green silk throughout, with very fine and nicely graduated intermediates, all tied by Mrs Murgett, wife of well known London tackle dealer and angler Frank Murgett. The varnish finish is original and sound with no chips and the transfers are perfect.

The 26″ cork handle has a trumpet shaped top and aluminium fittings from W R Products of Shepherd’s Bush. The original one and a half inch red rubber button from the Mountford Rubber Company of Birmingham (I know my rubber) is in place.

The rod retains its original and very tidy cotton drill bag.