The Workshop

Forging 'Best' London guns & rifles, for over 200 years

Map of Princes Street factory, just off Leicester Square

Map of Princes Street factory, just off Leicester Square

Purdey guns have always been crafted in London, and originally the workshop and showroom were one and the same; first in Princes Street off Leicester Square (which became ‘Wardour Street’ in 1878), and, from 1826, at 314 ½ Oxford Street – former premises of that ‘king of gunmaking’ Joseph Manton, under whom James Purdey first honed his skills.

We acquired the lease to our first dedicated workshop, 37 North Row, on 1 December 1881. In the 130 years since then, Purdey gunmaking has remained based in west London: moving to Irongate Wharf in 1900, and North Wharf Road after that. In October 1979, we moved into our current home in Hammersmith.

But a workshop is nothing without its workers, and it is these men, often handing down skills from father to son, that truly maintain the Purdey legacy.

Many families have served over generations, none more successfully than the Lawrences. Ernest Charles Lawrence started at Purdey’s as a finisher; such was his skill that the other men soon found their work being sent back, having failed to meet the new quality standard he’d attained.

It was Ernest Charles who formulated the secret mixture, ‘slacum’, with which we still polish our gunstocks today.

Apprenticeship at Purdey

Purdey’s Apprenticeship program supports our brand’s heritage and craftsmanship journey.

Our apprentices commit to gunmaking for a period of 5 years before qualifying as a Craftsman, and after 10 years in the trade they will become Senior Craftsmen.

Apprentices are encouraged to embark on a work experience placement prior to committing to an apprenticeship at our workshop.

Please contact us for further information or to find out about our apprenticeship openings.

 

More information on Purdey Apprentices 

 

Harry Lawrence, pictured with 1/6 size gun

Harry Lawrence, pictured with 1/6 size gun

Harry Lawrence

Ernest Lawrence’s son, Harry, joined Purdey as an apprentice in 1914. It was he, who, along with the stocker Gus Schackell, and finisher Mickey Miles, crafted the perfect pair of miniature side-by-side guns which now rest on the writing desk in the study of Queen Mary’s dolls’ house in Windsor Castle.

Harry Lawrence’s most famous achievement, though, was his creation of a trio of Purdeys in 1935, each exactly one-sixth the size of King George V’s 12-bore hammer gun, to celebrate the King’s Silver Jubilee. Guns number 25,000-25,002 took almost three years to complete, and their meticulously crafted, 3 ½” long barrels even fired their own special cartridges, commissioned from ICI.

Harry went on to introduce many Purdey patents; to perfect the Woodward over-and-under action; and to lead Purdey’s through the difficult years during World War II, when production shifted to help the war effort. He eventually became Managing Director. Like so many skilled craftsmen before him, Harry Lawrence enjoyed the quiet satisfaction that comes from doing a job very well, and the deep respect of all of his peers. But unlike the others, his unique contribution not just to Purdey, but to Britain itself, resulted in him being the only London gunsmith to be awarded the MBE.

The miniature gun in case, pictured next to a £1 coin

The miniature gun in case, pictured next to a £1 coin

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Appointments

Our Gunroom team at Audley House in Mayfair would be delighted to meet you and discuss your requirements

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