It’s morning frost on the hood of a land cruiser that crystallises a complex layer of thorn scratches, lacerations and claw marks from decades of exploration; a cool breeze on your face as you drive around for hours in the hunting rig, blissfully daydreaming until you’re ripped from the reverie by cat-claw thorns tearing through two shirt layers and drawing blood.
It’s the smell of parched topsoil getting its first drink of rain as the monsoons precipitate their arrival; the taste of a hand-rolled cigarette after lunch, lit by the same match that sets an early-season management fire, which in turn brings a chaotic hurricane of birds to devour the winged insects fleeing from the climbing flames. Or it’s a midday nap under the shade of an acacia tree with pant legs tucked into your socks to prevent soldier ants from biting ankles tender from tracking buffalo, only to be woken by a lion’s call a few hundred yards away, then not being able to fall back asleep because it might’ve been closer.
When I first arrived at Westley Richards, one of the areas that really impressed me was the quality and depth of photography the company had produced over the years. This in large part began with Simon Clode, the former Chairman & Managing Director of the company, who as a young man developed a keen interested in the medium while studying art at the British Institute in Florence. It was during this time of experimentation with cameras, darkrooms and composition that Simon established his uncompromising eye for fine detail and appreciation of aesthetics.
One of the most popular leather sporting accessories that we make at Westley Richards is our Ammunition Wallet. Though a simple addition to one’s packing list, to hunting enthusiasts this item can be as vital as the ammunition it holds. Handmade to hold up to 10 rounds at a time, the most popular is designed to fit safely to your belt and within easy reach for that crucial moment.
Being synonymous with rifles, Westley Richards has always offered the most comprehensive range amongst the heritage gunmakers. Designed to match both the hunter’s preference – open, closed or in pocket – and cartridge size, our ammunition wallets deliver a striking combination of luxury, durability and gentlemanly style, that can be found in all our leather goods. Continue Reading →
As a company known for the finest in English craftsmanship, it is no surprise that at every point of the manufacturing process we strive to use the best raw materials available, wherever they exist in the world.
Whether that be the wood selection for our stocks, specialist yarns for our safari apparel or atypical hides for our fine leather travel goods, Westley Richards go to great lengths to continually source the highest grade in each class.
For our craftsmen and women these materials are a complete joy to work with and importantly deliver an end result that will be admired for generations.
Tärnsjö Gaveri prepare the hides using a liming process
Our journey to source the right leather partner for our sporting and travel ranges began some years ago; with the guiding philosophy that any Westley Richards product is made to be truly used, last and age well, suitably reflecting its owners adventures and stories like any great companion.
As promised, after a fantastic response to our recent ‘The Greatest Adventurer’ competition, I wanted to share some other inspiring entries. Stories that differ in their style and origins, but end with the all too similar love affair of the Westley Richards Courtney Boots.
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.
I would like to say a huge thank you to all who contributed to our competition, we have had a wonderful array of entries from across the globe and it truly has been difficult to select a winner. We will endeavour to feature as many as possible on The Explora in the coming weeks for you at home to enjoy yourselves.
After much deliberation from the Westley Richards team, we all agreed John Fahl’s intrepid tales on safari with his father, the worthy winner of our Sutherland travel bag. His winning entry is presented below.
John Fahl’s Winning Entry
I happen to know Westley Richard’s greatest fan and adventurer… I am not that person, but I am an adventurer and a fan of Westley Richards. I’ve only been on three safari trips to Africa. Each I’ve come prepared thanks to Westley Richards. My gear consists of:
1906 Westley Richards .318
40 rounds of mixed soft and hard-tipped ammunition
1 heirloom knife and 1 custom made knife (just in case)
1 Westley Richards 5 round .318 cover belt pouch
1 Westley Richards wallet
1 Pair of Courteney boots that I wear everywhere
Clothes, flashlight, binocs, a proper hat and a lot of luck.
A couple weeks ago we featured the first part of “Making of the Bournbrook”, giving you a behind the scenes look into our creative exploration from collection concept to design. In the second and final part, we continue our journey through the rigorous detailing of material selection, production sampling, tests out in field and ultimately the delivery of our final bags.
To meet the dedicated high standards of quality that the Westley Richards name is globally recognised for, ever since our founder coined the mantra – “to be the maker of as good a gun as can be made” – we put no time limit on these stages to achieve the pinnacle of end results.
First critical decision came in the form of material selection. Westley Richards has had a long relationship with both its leather and canvas manufacturers, however we felt this an ideal opportunity to research new partners. After much time spent sourcing, meeting and testing new options nothing compared to our existing relationships… I’m sure there is an old adage for that.
At the end of last year we launched the first members of our new Bournbrook travel bag collection. Conceived, designed and importantly hand-fabricated by our expert leather department here at the Westley Richards’ Pritchett Street headquarters.
Unlike our fellow gunmakers we uniquely manufacture all our fine and exotic leather goods, both sporting and travel, in-house and side by side with our gun making. For myself and others alike, it is a great pleasure to witness English craftsmanship at its zenith within these four walls; and of particular importance, that Westley Richards continues the Midlands’ proud heritage as the centre of England’s leathermaking since time immemorial.
The Bournbrook’s journey begun early in 2019. With aims to expand our leather offering through a new luxury lifestyle collection, the team’s initial focus centred on ‘town and country’ as a territory. Many patrons of the company split their time between their residences, the city and the field, and therefore a collection that travels with them at every moment revealed itself as an ideal place to begin.
It is with great excitement that we launch our new town and country travel bag collection, under the moniker, Bournbrook. As you all will be aware the name holds a very special place in the history of Westley Richards and its best gunmaking.
Following the success of our Anson & Deeley Boxlock action, still referenced in modern sporting shotgun and rifles today, Westley Richards upgraded to a purpose built premises in Bournbrook, Birmingham in 1894. Described as an elegant factory, both ‘useful’ and ‘ornamental’ – it was intended to accommodate more rationally the different departments of gunmaking in one place. Designed by local C.E Bateman, a celebrated architect associated with the prevailing Arts and Crafts movement of the era and the Birmingham Guild of Handicraft.
The company remained in Bournbrook for over 110 years until 2008 where a planned move to the city’s historic Gun Quarter gave the opportunity to further house the gun and burgeoning leather factories under a single roof alongside a new flagship retail space.
Leather making is a big part of the future for Westley Richards and unlike our key competitors we make all our leather goods in house side by side with the gun making. The West Midlands has been a centre of leather-making since time immemorial so it is fitting that Westley Richards should have moved into the business. It began with the manufacture of high-quality slips and cases to protect clients’ guns but is now expanding into other areas, offering a wide range of traditionally-tanned and exotic leather goods to adventurous travellers and field sports enthusiasts alike.
The Bournbrook Collection is greatly inspired by both the checkering our master gunsmiths carefully handcraft onto our gun stocking, and key details seen in our traditional gun cases. An ode to the master engraver Paul Lantuch is on display with an exclusive lining design. Each design is available in our signature range of tanned leather, buffalo hide and strong canvas combinations.
A refined 48hr travel bag for those charming weekend breaks away. Whether heading to your favoured shooting lodge or simply a quiet place for some R & R, this smartly designed weekender has all the functionality you require, including secure compartments inside and out and a collapsible shoe section. Comes with a suitcase slip, fountain pen holders, bellows pockets and a deluxe leather adjustable strap.
A soft briefcase created with the commuter in mind, travelling between their fine country home to meetings in town. Thoughtfully designed with secure compartments for laptops, devices and documents. Comes with a suitcase slip, fountain pen holders, bellows pockets and a deluxe leather adjustable strap.
The Bournbrook Wash Bag is your perfect travelling partner. Sports a large open interior with a robust matching handle and a secure external pocket for extra storage.
Prices begin at £265
As Westley Richards moves into 2020 and beyond, the company has exciting plans to establish itself as the foremost manufacturer of the finest English-made leather goods, with the finesse and flair for which they are widely recognized. Walking through its factory today is a great privilege: with centuries of knowledge and experience in their hands, Westley Richards’ master gunmakers and leather artisans are bringing to life their clients’ next most prized possession.