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.
Inside the building you will discover vaults full of guns to interest you.
My sincere thanks to Ryan Belanger for use of his shots.
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!
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.
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.
My thanks to all the Ladies who made this event such a success.
The 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.
A wall of our previous Royal Warrants and the Medals won at International Expositions.
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”!
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!
The 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!
The gunmaking is carried out in the 5000 sq. ft. second floor workshops.
The 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.
Approximately 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.
The Irish Elk is one of many species found around the factory.
Even 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.
November 5th is Guy Fawkes Night in England when we celebrate the defeat of the Gunpowder Plot by Guy Fawkes in 1605 to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Traditionally we have a huge fire which is topped by a GUY made from old clothes stuffed with straw and alongside this a fireworks display, food and of course drink.
Whilst we stand around our fires here in England I have just learned of a fire in our premises in Bozeman this morning. There a printer or photo strobe light has gone up in flames and damaged the office. This will cause some disruption whilst phones, computers etc are replaced but we hope this will be minimal. Any difficulty contacting the USA office please direct to the UK by phone or emails and we will address immediately.
The Irish Elk in my office (top picture) has always attracted a great deal of comment. Having a span of 11 feet I am always asked ‘what is it’ and ‘where did you hunt it’! The antlers are actually a cast of a set I purchased at auction about 15 years ago. They were on display for some time in our shop in Springfield, Missouri where I had them cast, reproduced and made into a giant light fitting! In 2000 we took the Irish Elk to Las Vegas Safari Club as part of our display and could have taken many bookings there for hunting the species!
The Giant Deer (or ‘Irish Elk’) lived during the Pleistocene Period of the Great Ice Age. It probably originated in Siberia but migrated westward under the influence of increasing cold. Its range extended over a wide part of central Europe and Asia and the largest concentration of its remains have been found in Ireland, chiefly in the marl underlying bogland. This marl has a high calcium carbonate content, which assists in preserving the bones. The majority of these ancient antlers were discovered in caves in Counties Waterford, Cork and Clare. They have long been a feature of the Irish banqueting hall and are particularly suited to the Scottish baronial style.
When I moved the USA shop from Missouri to Montana the casts came back to England, along with the mould. Anyone interested in a faithful reproduction can let me know. An original set of Antlers achieved a sale price of £43,250 at Christies last year.
After many years of taking our guns to photographers with mixed results, I decided, having had Terry Allen here for a four weeks doing the photographs for the book, to equip the space we had been using so we had a permanent facility in house. To record all the guns we produced in future seemed a sensible plan, one of the most evident and annoying things to come to light as we compiled the book, was how few of the modern guns and rifles that we made, had actually been photographed.
We now have a very nicely equipped space, with Leica S and Canon cameras and Profoto lighting. Of course what we don’t have in abundance, is the photographic skills! So this is a message to anyone with those skills who may like to share them in exchange for using our kit, space and guns for your own projects. I would be happy to learn from you!
I have just received my trophies from this years Monteria’s in Spain which I attended in January. After many year’s of poor shooting & luck, this year I managed to get the largest Stag ever shot in a Monteria byEspacaza the outfitter who organised the hunt. For those of you looking for a new destination and type of hunt I cannot recommend Diego Satrustegui and his team highly enough. For over 12 years now Diego has been organising hunting for me and my clients in Spain, Africa, Mongolia and just about anywhere else you can dream up.