The Workshop

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.

Purdey’s Apprenticeship program supports our brand’s heritage and craftsmanship journey.
Our apprentices commit to gunmaking for a period of 5 years, after which they might qualify as a Craftsman. After 10 years, and upon recognition of having achieved exceptional standards, they might become Senior Craftsmen.

At Purdey we partner with colleges to recruit apprentices, enabling applicants to demonstrate their commitment and passion for the craft.
To further foster our craftsmen, we work with The Worshipful Company of Gunmakers, promoting and regulating gunmaking and advancing the state of knowledge within the trade. Our apprentices will present their craft to a panel of judges to be awarded with a recognised certificate in this field.

Please fill in the form at the bottom of the page for further information or to find out about our apprenticeship openings.

The Workshop
The Workshop

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.

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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.

Making a hand crafted gun

Purdey New Workshop

Purdey guns have always been handcrafted in London.
Throughout the nineteenth century, they were manufactured centrally: first in the small shop on what is today known as Wardour Street. Then on Oxford Street, at number 314 (they were sold from 315, next door). And finally from North Row, just one road away, when our shop moved to its Audley House home.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, Purdey gunmaking moved west. From 1900 to 1950, our factory could be found on Irongate Wharf, close to Praed Street in Paddington. After a spell on the Great West Road, in a site acquired by the great Harry Lawrence, in 1979 our craftsmen moved to west London Felgate House.

Over the past two years, the site has been completely rebuilt. Until June 11th when our new workshop – Felgate House- was opened.
Complete with its own indoor shooting range, Felgate House allows us to pattern test shotguns and regulate rifles on site. But most importantly, it gives our actioners, stockers, locksmiths and engravers the space and light they need to weave magic.

The Workshop
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