Antique rods feature in Tight Lines

I HAVE written way in the past of the fishing tackle makers from Brechin and in particular of WM. Steel.

Well, you will imagine my surprise when a gentleman from Kingston upon Hull contacted me and said :“I have just bought two very old (circa 1920) fishing rods from an antique shop in Beverley in Yorkshire”.

“Not by WM. Steel,” I replied, and he came back with “I have got the right man.”

It transpires that he had obtained 12 names from the internet, 11 of which he had no idea what they might be. He had ‘phoned me four times and had no reply. He had literally given up when his wife said try Mr Balfour again and it was fifth time lucky.

I was able to tell him that the rods were much earlier, indeed from the late 19th century and this thrilled him to think that they were well over a hundred years old.

From his description the rods were of 10 and 16 feet, and were made of Greenheart.

Not having realised the age, he asked me what to do with them as he wished to restore them and we discussed at length just how to go about it.

He would like them to come back to Brechin in the future but as I have found in the past there is nowhere in town to put such artefacts on display. I too have two WM. Steel rods and I know of only one other, and perhaps another near Dundee when I get around to viewing it.

This was quite amazing coming just a few months after being approached by a lady in Montrose who returned a Challenge Trophy to me, which I passed on to the angling club to whom it was presented by the same WM. Steel in 1895.

The other well known rod maker, Fitzroy, was the father of “Gunny Murray” who I remember well from my youth and he had a shop where the hardware store now sits. These rods which were real works of art are now very scarce and I would dearly love to have one. A very old friend in Brechin had one which I was so pleased he handed on to his son who is also an angler and it will be looked after but it seems that very few others have survived.

These antiques will never have a high value as their extreme size makes it difficult to display, the largest “Steel” I have is 18 feet long. It, by the way, was owned by a friends father (a sheep farmer in Glen Esk) and is one of my really prized possessions.

I am always pleased to hear stories relating to this episode of Brechin’s past so please do get in touch on 622753 if you have any information.

Tight Lines,

Bill Balfour