Jesse Hill Gunmakers. Photography ByBrett.

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One of the photo projects I discussed with Brett, many months ago now, when he was teaching me to use the Leica M system and had asked me to suggest locations I would enjoy photographing, was a visit to this workshop owned by Haydn Hill in Birmingham. It was a project we never managed to fulfil together. This is a workshop that is ‘totally normal’ to Haydn himself and totally historic to all of us involved in gunmaking, it is a museum.

So it was actually with great reluctance that I commissioned Brett last week to go and do the job for me, an excellent decision I feel as the resulting images are worthy of the location rather than it having been a students playground.

To add the story to these images I am sincerely grateful to both Vic Venters and Ralph Stuart of Shooting Sportsman Magazine for allowing me to publish Vic’s article which appeared in the magazine which you will find in the preceding post.

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About Brett, the photographer.

At the tender age of six, a plastic camera and darkroom kit started Brett’s lifelong passion for photography. After leaving school he got the break that put him on the path to a fulfilling career as a photographer, when he was offered an apprenticeship at the Birmingham Post, England. Brett graduated to open his own portrait studio and was awarded Kodak Photographer of the Year at the age of 25.

His love of art and architecture led him to further hone his craft in the field of commercial & industrial photography using large format cameras. His motivation to capture everyday scenes within a special day and to find the extra in the ordinary led him to tell the story of weddings with his camera of choice, the Leica M.

Brett went on to consult for Leica Camera coaching enthusiast and professional photographers at Leica Akademie, Mayfair and in workshops worldwide.

He also undertakes bespoke commissions and personal projects. His signature look is the synergy between street photography, documentary and lifestyle imagery.

ByBrett.com

 

Westley Richards & Co. – A Visit to the Factory by Photographer Simon Upton.

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I am sure that less than 10% of our readers will ever have the opportunity to actually visit our factory in Birmingham. Everyone has the opportunity but the distances, oceans and time factors make trips like this difficult.

Recently I was fortunate enough to have the factory photographed by one of the worlds leading interior photographers, Simon Upton a keen sportsman himself. Simon travels the world extensively shooting magnificent interiors for magazines. His client list is a who’s who of interior and decoration magazines amongst which are The World of Interiors, Vogue, House and Garden, Elle Decor, Harpers Bazaar, Architectural Digest and Vanity Fair.

We were joined for the shoot days by the man who is largely responsible for the overall look of the factory, Hubert Zandburg. I first met Hubert, a young South African interior designer in 2005, just prior to my embarking on the new factory project. Hubert like myself is a compulsive ‘collector hunter gatherer’, we cannot resist buying items of interest and allow them to take over our lives and he has a remarkable ability of displaying the collected items to be shown at their very best. Literally give him a pile of objects large and small and short hours later they will be displayed in a manner you would never have expected and to great effect.

My decision to work with Hubert on the factory came from an initial sketch he did for the lobby to display my Elephant head. He placed this on a black steel riveted stand and left it in isolation in the hallway, it excited me very much. It was a clean modern look and one I felt totally appropriate for the factory, from this clean space lobby you would enter a world of objects, colour and interest. What Hubert has created for Westley Richards is very special indeed and I remain totally indebted for his work, advise and the friendship that has resulted from our meeting all those years ago.

The result of this collaboration has received a huge amount praise, the ambiance and interest that the factory generates has been fantastic and I hope that as many of you as possible will be able, at one point in your travels, be able to visit in person. We look forward to welcoming you.

This series of photographs covers the entrance lobby, showroom and after the image of antlers on the back staircase ‘my space’ at the top of the building where I now have my office and photo studio. We did not shoot in the gun making area, another set of photographs I commissioned and taken by Brett covers this and I will be posting a selection from that shoot later on this month.

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4 ‘Used’ Westley Richards Fort Knox Titan Model 7241 Safes. – For sale!

Westley Richards Fort Knox Safe.

We have available for collection or delivery from our Bozeman shop, 4 used Fort Knox safes which we no longer require. The safes are as illustrated above, they are clean and in general ‘very good condition’ but with some outside wear to the transfer decal decoration and leading edges of the door.

Fort Knox Titan Model 7241 with interior lighting. Externally, the safe measures 72.5″ H x 40.5″ W x 29.5″ D. We have Two left hand opening and Two right hand opening available. 40 Gun capacity each. (4 rows x 10 gun) Electric lighting and digital lock. The normal new cost of these safes is $6000 each, we are asking $2000 each ex Bozeman.

Please email me or call Kevin Kilday on +1 406 586 1946 if these are of interest.

Update. All these are now all sold, thank you all very much!

A Virtual Visit to Westley Richards. Guided by Emma Slater

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I asked Emma to shoot photographs today of what you could expect to see if you visit the factory, a virtual tour by camera. I hope that those of you who are unable to visit the factory enjoy these and I hope that any of you considering coming to visit will be encouraged to do so by what you see here.

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A Birds Eye View of Westley Richards.

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Last week, as the sun was going down, a visitor to the factory quietly launched his drone and took some video of the factory. From his footage, he has kindly grabbed a few stills for me. For those who have never visited these give a nice perspective of the factory and its location in the city.

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Inside the building you will discover vaults full of guns to interest you.

Main Gunroom

Gunroom

Vault

My sincere thanks to Ryan Belanger for use of his shots.

The Princes of India. Finally on the Walls at Westley Richards.

A Grid of the Princes of India on the wall at Westley Richards.

It has taken a few years, convincing my Father to sell, getting them framed and then up on the wall, but finally I have hung a grid of the Princes of India on the wall here at the factory. I have always thought these portraits very appropriate for a gunmakers like ourselves, the Princes were after all the lifeblood of the English gun trade for many years, driving innovation due to their hunger for new calibre’s and types of rifles and guns.

I think many people who own a Princely rifle will gain pleasure from seeing what the original owner actually looked like and here, on the wall, they are shown in all their splendour, photographed at the time of the 1911 Durbar.

This wall was the very last empty wall space in the factory, every wall is now covered and my framing bills have finally come to an end!

A Grid of the Princes of India on the wall at Westley Richards.

 

 

Maharajah of Jodhpur, Westley Richards, The Explora

 

Lights for the Trophy Room Side Table.

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What do you get the man who has everything? The bases of these side table lights are the remains of the steel billet from which we take the action machining for our guns and rifles. Each lamp is different and may be a small one for a .410 gun or a large one for a .577 rifle. It seemed a shame to just throw these away and they make a interesting talking point as you sit and sip your scotch. If they admire the lamp perhaps you can show them what you had made with the middle part?!

These Unique lamps are hand made to order from £500.00 each.

An Open Evening at Westley Richards

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2 cabinets with 12 of our most elaborate guns to date, including the Boutet Gun and The India Rifle welcomed local guests to our showroom for their first time at the premises to see the latest collections of clothing on display in the shop. It was also an opportunity to see our craft in action with tours around the gun workshops and leather shop where the opportunity  to discuss the ‘ideal leather bag’ with the maker added a nice touch.

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My thanks to all the Ladies who made this event such a success.

VISITING WESTLEY RICHARDS & Co. Ltd.

Westley Richards & Co Factory sign

Westley Richards InteriorThe main entrance to the factory and showroom, the lobby has the elephant skull display.

It is often considered a long way to Birmingham, it’s only 100 miles from London, not that far. An hour and 20 minutes on the train from Euston to New Steet or a couple of hours by car, all motorway driving and we are a just few minutes from the motorway junction, a large car park awaits.

There are few gunmakers existing in England today and none offer a destination to match what is found here at Westley Richards. This week we have entertained visitors from America, Russia, South Africa, the Middle East and England some of whom have been before and some for whom it was a first visit. Without reservation they all found the trip here worthwhile and quite unlike any gunshop they had been to before.

Westley Richards Interior   A wall of our previous Royal Warrants and the Medals won at International Expositions.

Westley Richards Interior     A view of the showroom 

When we made the plans for our new factory we decided to lay it out so that visitors could not only see the history of the company but see also, at first hand, how we make our guns. The craft of gunmaking is a diminishing one making the opportunity to see it in action, rare. Our whole team is spread over 2 floors, management and the showroom staff downstairs and the gunmaking craftsmen upstairs on the 2nd floor. Divided into various workshops they ply their trade and alongside you will find our own leather department crafting the leather goods we offer. On the 3rd floor is our design and photographic studio as well as accomodation for the caretaker, which is me, yes “I live over the shop”!

Westley Richards Interior

The showroom contains a large selection of shooting clothing and goods which we have selected from brands you know well, as well as some I am sure you don’t. Combined with our own range of garments which is expanding and our own leather goods this make a unique offering to the sportsman, one that will not be a repetition of the normal tweed, tweed, tweed you see everywhere else!

Westley Richards Interior

Westley Richards Interior

Westley Richards InteriorThe main gun vault displays both new and used guns of various makes.

Our selection of guns comprises all makes, you will not only find Westley Richards guns here but makes of all kinds. A visitor today could for instance be shown 3 original 500 Jeffery bolt actions, Holland & Hollands Royal rifles in 5 calibre’s, Purdey rifles and guns, Hartmann & Weiss rifles and over under shotguns, .410’s by Pursey, Holland and ourselves etc. the list goes on. At Westley Richards you will find people who are enthusiastic about the guns of all makes and wishing to share their knowledge, people who are not afraid to lay our guns alongside the ‘very best of the competitors’ so you can choose!

Westley Richards InteriorThe gunmaking is carried out in the 5000 sq. ft. second floor workshops.

Westley Richards InteriorThe view of the stocking shop.

Whilst we do try to avoid long tours of the factory floor as it can disrupt production quite badly, (gunmakers love ‘red herrings’!), we will always make the effort to show you the workshops and describe the various stages the guns go through from start of the order to completion.

Westley Richards InteriorApproximately 200 framed items of historical interest hang on the walls throughout.
Our collection of vintage Indian hunting photographs is second to none, these will be found covering literally every wall in the building, I have run out of space to hang anything more, much to my accountants delight and the dismay of my framer! The photographs are combined with Westley Richards ephemera and trophies collected in Africa and other parts of the world by our team and customers, some of which are truly unique.

Westley Richards InteriorThe Irish Elk is one of many species found around the factory.

Westley Richards InteriorEven the bathroom has 20 pictures to keep you entertained.

I hope that you will come and visit us and see all this for yourselves, we look forward to welcoming you here.