” I knew Elmer Keith well for many years. He was my first and best mentor when it came to double rifles. He owned several double rifles by the best makers in England and without question always referred to the Westley Richards Hand Detachable Lock Double Rifle as the Finest of them all. As Testament to this, he practiced what he preached. When he went to Africa for the first time, to hunt the big 5 in Kenya it was the realisation of his life’s dream; he carried a Best Quality Westley Richards .476 double rifle. He also owned four other Westley Richards with detachable locks, including a best quality, One Trigger .577 with an extra set of locks.”
David Yarrow has a completely unique approach to wildlife photography which amongst other things includes a remote controlled camera in a protective steel box which he can put on trails and other places and get a unique view of the wildlife.
His recent book Encounter is highly recommendedand can be bought from his website here. African imagery is at the heart of Encounter and 10% of all of David Yarrow Photography’s sales go to Tusk Trust; an organisation that funds wildlife conservation, community development and environmental education programmes across Africa. (www.tusk.org).
This is a very nice original condition, 1935 single selective trigger gun which is named on the rib The Heronshaw. It is not what I normally associate with the Heronshaw model which had a particular type of basket weave engraving, two triggers and normally a hinged floor plate with fixed locks. This is however a later model of the gun, so changes were probably made.
With 28 inch barrels, 1/4 & full chokes and a 14 1/8″ stock and weighing in at 6lbs 5ozs it will make somebody a very nice walk around gun. The gun is cased in original lightweight flat case to which we have fitted new accessories.
The gun will be found shortly on our used gun site for sale at £3250.00 or $5000.00
Jens Erik Perto kindly gave me a signed copy of his new book, Hunting and Shooting Records and Facts whilst we were at the Safari Club convention in Las Vegas. Convention and show season doesn’t really allow sitting back and having a good read, it is more about writing copious notes on what you have agreed, promised, sold, bought or whatever.
Having finally had the opportunity to relax and have a read through the book, I can really highly recommend this entertaining compilation of, ‘as it says on the tin’, Hunting records and facts.
It is the kind of book you can pick up, read a few facts and then put down having learned something new in just a few minutes, a very nice book to pick up whilst you have a coffee break or one for the ‘little room’ in the house where you have some peace.
Some years ago we re-introduced one of the double rifles which no doubt played a big part in making our name as a maker of double rifles. It is the Gold Name Anson & Deeley boxlock double rifle, complete with model C bolting and Westley ejector work and sights. It is a rifle we have made during our history in the 100’s and which, in it’s basic format provides everything a big game hunter requires. Build quality, reliability, accuracy, balance and pride of ownership. Built by the same team and with the same passion as our droplock and sidelock rifles it is the ‘entry point’ into the world of Westley Richards double rifles.
I introduced this rifle with the aim of making it possible for professional and other hunters to buy a rifle which would last their careers, and either give them a return at the end of their time in the bush or be something they could pass down to their son if he followed in their footsteps. It is a rifle built for generations not for a period of years.
The rifle has not sold in huge numbers but has fulfilled everything I wanted it to do. It is in the hands of both great professional hunters and great enthusiastic hunters, is carried with confidence and has steadily increased in value.
The Westley Richards fixed lock model is available in .470, .500 and .577.
William Westley Richards’ chief ally and London agent was William Bishop (1797-1871), a London jeweller, memorably described as a “rough cut gem from Ealing”. He became a renowned Regency sporting character who knew everyone in the haut monde. George Teasdale-Buckell wrote in his 1900 book Experts on Guns and Shooting: “It is unquestionable that Westley Richards’ guns owe much of their success to the personal skill and management of Westley Richards’ famous lieutenant, Wm. Bishop; under whose regime the house in Bond Street became quite an Institution.” The New Bond Street shop, where Mr Bishop was based when he took on the agency around 1815, and which later became a dedicated Westley Richards & Co. shop, was at No. 170. Here the showroom remained (although renumbered No. 178 in 1878) until 1917 when it moved to Conduit Street.1
Known colloquially as ‘The Bishop of Bond Street’, Mr Bishop was clearly a master salesman who mesmerised the young bucks of Mayfair, organising races, boxing matches or cock fights. As Mr Taylor wrote: “the young bloods, officers, fashionable country squires, in their idle moments could always find a cure for ennui at the Bond Street rendezvous.” These figures obsessed about his foibles and were constantly asking him why he always wore his hat, indoors and out, to which one young nobleman was given the cryptic reply: “because . . no one else’s fits me”. Stiff wagers were lost and won on the chance of catching him without it.2
Mr Teasdale-Buckell gave a striking portrait in words of the experience of encountering ‘The Bishop’ for the first time: “A large and roomy man, old Bishop, sitting in front of the old white mantelpiece …his gouty leg up on a chair before him. Dressed from head to foot in the blackest of black, a huge white frill proceeding from his breast, and an enormous pair of shirt cuffs turned back over his coat sleeves, and a neatly brimmed hat, which no mortal eye had ever seen off his head. A truly right reverend and Episcopal figure, and worthy of the only Bishop who had ever passed an Act through Parliament, as it was his wont to boast concerning the Dog Act, termed Bishop’s Act.”3
This act of public spirit was inspired by the one-time theft of his adored pet dog, Tiny. He was aghast to discover that a man could go to jail for stealing a dog collar but not for stealing a dog, so he threw his weight behind a bill which outlawed the stealing of dogs.4 He put £1,000 of his own money behind it and it was the occasion of the passing of this bill into law in 1845 which led friends to commission the full-length oil portrait of him. When Tiny died, Mr Bishop erected a marble monument with a full inscription on the front of the New Bond Street shop (which is now housed in the Birmingham factory).
Mr Teasdale-Buckell continued: “If you were a stranger calling upon him for the first time, the odds were that he would show no more cognisance of your presence than if you had been in the next parish. After sufficient time had been allowed for this to do its work, the foreman would probably take some opportunity of making the great man informed of your propinquity, when you would be suddenly discovered and greeted with condescending affability.”5 Mr Bishop, a consummate performer, occupied his position of agent and salesman for the company for over fifty years and died in 1871, aged 74. He was also a close friend of Col Peter Hawker, one of the great Regency shots, who was a faithful client of Westley Richards.
A legendary figure across the entire sporting world ( in his own life time ), ‘The Bishop’ remains an essential inspiration to the sales approach of Westley Richards & Co. today. I sees a very close link between the knowledge of our team and the passion for the sport of shooting shared by our sales team, gun makers and clients together.
I am very grateful to Richard Kilby for sharing the photograph of William Bishop which appears at the top of this post. It is the only known photograph of the Bishop and one which evidently the portrait above was painted from.
It was Danny McCallum’s turn to come and visit our operation today, it was pleasure to welcome him to the factory, show him our gunmaking, have some lunch and talk some stories.
Whilst on safari these past few years, Danny has always been talking whilst we were seated by the camp fire about how much he would like a classic .318 rifle, one he describes as “a superb calibre” and used by so many PH’s over the years. So after we had cleared away the lunch and Danny was outside for a smoke, we laid on the table a classic .318 bolt action, a gift for him from a most gracious and generous client. He was of course both surprised, overwhelmed and delighted!
Danny then, after a little advice from Trigger, decided that he would in future focus on talking about how much he would like a Westley Richards .577 single trigger droplock double rifle during camp fire discussions!
As Trigger is one of the next to be on Safari with him, I will be closely watching my inventory!
We all see plenty of pairs of guns as we visit the gun shows and gun shops but a set of 3 matching guns is a pretty rare item in the best gun world. Why you might ask would anyone buying a best gun need 3 guns, do they shoot 3 at a time? The answer is no, the third gun is actually a spare. Things break and that is just a fact, Ferrari’s break, Rolls Royce’s break, super yachts break and jets break, if something works it breaks and guns are included in this fact.
So the scenario is that you are on your prized grouse moor on August 12th, a predicted days bag of 500 brace to double guns. Driven grouse is fast, exhilarating game shooting at its very best, they have always said you don’t know how many friends you have until you own a grouse moor. It is the King of Sport and the most desirable of all shooting invites!
In the midst of the hectic return drive a cartridge jams or some other problem occurs, your loader pulls out the spare gun and you don’t even notice there is a problem, the shooting continues uninterrupted. Three perfectly identical guns in weight, balance and trigger pulls. It sort of makes sense if you have invested millions in your grouse moor!
A set of 3 Westley Richards 20g sidelocks would cost £172,500.00 and last a few generations, a 500 brace day of grouse shooting to 8 guns would cost £100,800.00 and last about 8 hours!
Congratulations to John Allison and his team for putting on a superb event ‘The Great British Shooting Show’ at Stoneleigh Park International Centre this weekend. I think it fair to say that there was ‘something for everyone’ at the exhibition, from best guns to air guns and everything in-between. I am sure that under John’s enthusiastic management this show will just grow and grow, becoming the ‘must attend’ show for anyone interested in the shooting sport in all its various forms.
Having just returned from exhibiting at three shows in USA during January and early Feb, I was personally in no mood for yet another show. With show burn out and jet lag I was ready to find fault and finding faults is something I believe I’m quite good at! The drive into the show was easy, the parking was easy, the entry was easy, the halls were spacious, carpeted and warm, there was food and drink, places to sit and rest and most importantly for all, there were people, lots of people.
I have never attended a show with the sole objective of selling things on the day, I take the long view, which in our case is showing the product we make in the flesh. We can put advertisements in the press, photographs on instagram and other social media but there is nothing quit like actually letting people see the products themselves.
This show for us has given literally thousands of people over the weekend the opportunity to see our guns and rifles, see our clothing and leather products which they can find in our shop and online and generally let them know “this is what we do”, and for that John, we are very grateful.
John Allison trying a gun on Giles Marriott’s stand at the show
On our Teague choke stand Nigel Hankey explains the process of choking guns.