The Westley Richards Tom Thumb Gun. 64 bore Rifle.
It has been wrong for me to assume that everyone has a copy of our book, an assumption which has led to my not posting many of the photographs from the publication on the basis that they have all been seen before!
We have a great history, one which we are very proud of and with that in mind it is a pleasure to show a selection of guns from the early years of the company which I hope show the diversity of products made in these times.
All Photographs are by Terry Allen.
The Tom Thumb Gun lying besides a Percussion 12g.
A Pair of 52 bore Percussion and 40 bore Flintlock Pocket Pistols
Westley Richards became the USA & UK importer of the exclusive range of Courteney Safari boots in 1998 and continue to this day to have a very good working relationship with the factory in Zimbabwe, which is managed by Gale Rice.
Over these years we have sold many hundreds of pairs of boots and have lots of satisfied customers who are still wearing the first boots they purchased from us 15 years ago. The Courteney range of footwear is built to be comfortable and to last, very similar to the philosophy behind our guns which makes this a great partnership.
Gale is working hard now to introduce for us both some new styles and old styles in new leathers. Westley Richards carry a large inventory of boots both in England & USA in order to immediately fulfil any orders and will special order any model or size that is not available.
The Holland & Holland Royal double rifle is the most copied double rifle in the world, with very good reason, it is a beautiful looking and handling rifle, a rifle that set the standard many years ago as the very finest English sidelock express rifle available. It seems if anyone embarks on making an express rifle nowadays or even over the past 30 years the Holland Royal is the rifle they try to emulate, none in my opinion have ever succeeded.
The shape, weight and every little detail can be copied and made with superb craftsmanship but without the magic name they are but that, good copies, like a Chinese Rolex, just not the same as the real deal.
So here is a selection of Vintage Holland Royal and Royal Deluxe double rifles from our collection which help keep us focused as we produce our own very unique model of Express rifle, The Hand Detachable Lock or Droplock.
Chris Kay at Westley Richards on his 2nd visit in 25 years today.
For most of the UK gun trade the role of manufacturing Chopper Lump tubes falls outside being a viable remit, the quantity required for internal production well below what would be considered a viable process in house. So the responsibility for the last 25 years has fallen on the shoulders of Chris Kay who, in 1990 diversified his family business Microfinish Ltd, a deep hole boring and honing service, into a specialist barrel making business, MIcrofinish Gun Barrels.
Chris made the first ten pairs of .410 barrels we used in 1990 when we started building the hand detachable lock guns, the same time as he started his business and he has supplied us with superb quality chopper lump tubes ever since in a range of sizes up to 8g.
Microfinish supply every gunmaker in England besides Holland & Holland with highest quality tubes, each to specific dimensions as required by individual gunmakers style and profiles. Customers who have relied on the precision services provided which are solidly based on a well established deep hole boring company, include ourselves, Boss, Purdey, Watson Bros, Greener (for whom he also bores the damascus twist forgings) and in fact any other person making shotguns in England using English chopper lump tubes!
It was very nice to see Chris, one of the ‘unsung heroes’ of the trade, here again at Westley Richards, he had made a visit to sell his services 25 years ago at the original Grange Road factory and today he came to have a look around our new premises and deliver more tubes.
Sketch drawings for new extension for machine shop.
Already, after only 5 years on site, we are running out of space! For many years now we have made all the actions and components for our guns, next door, in our sister company Westley Engineering. For the future we have now decided to bring absolute control of the manufacturing process ‘In House’. This has been encouraged by our young, expanding team of gunmakers, who are the result of our successful and popular Apprenticeship program.
Many of you will know that taking a computer or smart phone away from your child is a recipe for disaster, similarly, not allowing our young craftsmen to utilise and manage the latest CNC equipment in our environment, would also be a disaster. They want to be involved in every aspect, from the very start up until the delivery of the guns and by allowing them ownership of the production process from start to finish will, I am sure, be key in our endless search for better quality. The result, the perfect blend of machinery and hand craftsmanship.
I applaud this attitude and with that in mind, I asked Edward Nash of Nash Partnership, who was responsible for the design of our new factories in 2007, to sketch me some designs for an extension to our factory. These have been done and the ball is now rolling with the planning and design process in full swing and building to start as soon as possible.
The building, based on the old factory boiler house, is not a large extension, but it creates a use for the ground floor and basement of the attached building and provides a total of 3000 square feet of machine shop space and workshop area.
“The “lantern” is an indulgence on my part, but started with the belief that this yard could do with a bit of a focal point and a factories machine or boiler room would have been like this . In Birmingham there used to be lots of buildings doing hot work that were in fact open at the top, with a roof like this of corrugated iron just to stop the rain getting in ……I do not envisage this as glazed, and only a metal roof frame sitting on top of an otherwise plain roof..wired to stop pigeons” Edward Nash.
In addition to the building, and to fill it up, we have ordered the latestSodickWire and Die Sink machines as well as a DMG MORI CNC milling machine to compliment our current Mikrons.
Bill Jones who owns, and generously lent me Hemingway’s Westley Richards 577 for display at Safari Club this year, kindly gave me a copy of the Look magazine article written by Ernest Hemingway in 1954 and titled Safari. I had never seen this article which describes his 5 month Safari in Kenya accompanied by PH Philip Percival and Look photographer Earl Theisen. We see the 577 in the Rhino hunt spread. I have scanned the pages in original size so if you click on the individual image you will be able to see the enlarged page and hopefully be able to read it. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.
Will Criddle, who has long been associated with field sports in UK, chose the Safari Club Convention in Las Vegas to launch his new companyCriddle Fieldsports.
Formerly working with E J Churchill sporting and more recently with Bettws Hall, Will has always been the perfect host for a days sport in UK and brings many years of experience organising shooting days to his new company. We all wish him much success in his new venture
Will Criddle seen above at pre shoot briefing, a view of the line and the post shoot debrief. Another great day in the field!
John Morris of Rocky Mountain Hats in Bozeman is friends with the Hemingway family who live in the Bozeman area. John requested a photo with the Hemingway 577 at Safari Club to show the family which I nervously allowed, “whatever you do don’t drop it” or at least words to that effect, to which John retorted ” If that old fart could carry it, so can I” !!