London gun rooms

Discussion in 'Firearms & Ammunition' started by MAdcox, Jun 1, 2019.

  1. MAdcox

    MAdcox GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    My wife and I just got home from our AH/Wintershoek hunt. I’m still getting pictures together and will start the hunt report this week.

    But I promised @sierraone a report on our three day stay over in London. My wife had a lot she wanted to see in a short time but was gracious in visiting 3 of the historic gun rooms while we were there.

    So David here you go!
     
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  2. MAdcox

    MAdcox GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    We had a room right on the Thames just south of Westminster Abbey. On our second day we walked through St. James Park, right past Buckingham Palace, then on through Green Park to the Mayfair area where Holland & Holland and Purdey and Sons are just a few blocks apart.
    The London parks and gardens were a surprise treat for me. You would be walking along a narrow sidewalk with crazy traffic, pedestrians, noise and exhaust then every few blocks there would be a huge park or a small garden you could cut through and it would be dead quiet, sweet smelling grass and trees, like being in some idyllic English countryside.
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    We had lunch at a nice little pub then found Holland & Holland’s shop. I was a little surprised to find it mostly clothing, but as you made your way to the back of the store there was a small room of shooting stuff- some cases, really cool cleaning kits, shooting sticks, knives, etc. then you enter the gun room.
    The cabinets there were full of just what you think of when you hear Holland & Holland. Bolt rifles, double rifles, shotguns... beautiful wood and unbelievable engraving. I was a room full of dream guns.
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  3. sierraone

    sierraone AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Glad you and the wife had a great time Mickey. London truly has a lot to see for a hunter/outdoors person. And as you now know, there are no gun rooms in the U.S. that compare to central London, and of course WR in Birmingham. (With the possible exception of Gordy's in Houston.) Was just looking at a Delta vacation package to London yesterday! But will probably hold on to my money.
    Looking forward to the hunt report when you have time to put it together!
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
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  4. MAdcox

    MAdcox GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    We then headed down the street to Purdey. It was exactly what I had envisioned a London gun store to be! The company was started in 1814 and moved into this location in the 1870s (I forgot the exact date they told us). It is a multi-room store with guns, hunting gear, and old historic mounts in every room. Mounts from Tanganyika and Kenya from the early 1900s above the gun racks. Then we saw a huge room with guns along the walls and a desk at the back. I wasn’t sure it was for the public but then we met David Emanuel. This wonderful gentleman invited us in and gave us a great tour and history lesson on the company, the guns, the building and Purdey in general. The room we were in had been Mr. Purdey’s office and the large table down the center had once been an opening into the workshop located below so he could walk around and watch the work being done from his office. The huge ledgers locked in the cabinets below the guns documented every gun ever made by serial number, who it was made for, and specific details about its custom work for that owner. Of course the names there are a study of royalty and who’s who in British history.
    David then said “so, you are a shooter. Would you like to see a new Purdey gun?” I said sure and he unlocked a cabinet and handed me a custom 12ga double that was No 2 of a set. I was half afraid to touch it and he kept saying, feel the action, how it breaks, how it points. As I handled this gun I noticed the tag and realized this gun I was handling like my old duck gun was worth considerably more than my home. (378,000£ for the set).
    My wife and I visited with David for over an hour. He even had her interested in the history of gun making in London. It was a great experience and one I would encourage anyone visiting London not to miss.
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  5. sierraone

    sierraone AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I know what you mean about being afraid to touch!
     
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  6. mark-hunter

    mark-hunter AH Fanatic

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    Wow!
    Congrats!

    Question: do you need announcement, or invitation to visit those famous gun rooms?
     
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  7. MAdcox

    MAdcox GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    I was going to email and announce my visit but wasn’t sure of scheduling as I was fitting this into my wife’s sight seeing, so I literally just popped in. It might have helped my visit to Holland & Holland as the gun guys were tied up and I didn’t really get to talk to anyone or see anything except what was in the racks- which were plenty impressive and more than enough. But David Emanuel (Purdey) and Andrew Ambrose (Rigby) went out of their way to make us feel welcome and show us more than we could have ever imagined of their respective companies.
     

  8. MAdcox

    MAdcox GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    We walked everywhere we went in London and Rigby really isn’t accessible that way. They are across the Thames in a rather industrial area. But I had met Andrew Ambrose at DSC in January and really wanted to visit their shop. So our last morning we just Ubered over there before heading to the airport.
    I admit to being a bit surprised after visiting the first two shops in their extremely nice, upscale Mayfair store fronts. Rigby is an industrial looking storefront in an industrial area. The door is not open but as soon as I rang the bell a young lady appeared and very warmly invited us in. Andrew was the next person I saw and he remembered inviting me to visit in Dallas. The next hour and a half were the highlight of my London trip. You pass a couple of offices then step into a gun room that looks like it could be set up outside a tent somewhere in Tanzania. The mounts alone are worth the visit, the guns and history are like a museum. They had the 275 Rigby awarded to James Corbett for killing the Champawat Tigress right there in the room! Andrew showed us new guns and old guns, ledgers just like the ones at Purdey- he pointed out one in particular where King George had ordered a custom rifle with the stock cut down for his small young daughter Elizabeth in the 1930’s.
    Andrew then took us into the workshop. He explained that was why Rigby had chosen to locate in a more out-of-the-way place. They are the only London gun shop that still had the workshop in the same building. The store space was just too expensive in the other locations to use for work space. We met a few of the guys working and you can really begin to understand what goes into a custom gun. From a guy starting on a raw stock blank with mallet and chisel, a young man hand oiling a stock and forearm, and another working to finish an action with hand files. It was a real treat to see just a brief glimpse into what goes in to those beautiful rifles out front. We also had the privilege to see 3 of the first ever 416 Rigby #2 double rifles being made. Anyone spending time in London has to make the trip south of the Thames and visit with Andrew and look around Rigby’s amazing gun room. Even Christina says she would have been very disappointed if she had not gone with me for this one, it was a very enjoyable and memorable experience.
    Oh and Andrew says “Hello” David.
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  9. Wheels

    Wheels AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Glad the two of you got to visit these iconic pieces of our heritage.

    Like you, I was somewhat disappointed that H&H has become more of a clothing store than a gunmaker.

    Great post and photos. Thanks.
     

  10. sierraone

    sierraone AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    @MAdcox . Great write up Mickey. Met Andrew two years ago at DSC when he had just came over to Rigby from Holland after many years there. He, Marc and the others that I have met have treated me in the most courteous and professional manner whether it was Dallas or London. Hope to go back soon.
     

  11. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Thanks for sharing the tour.
     
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  12. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    WOW wouldn’t many of us love to take that tour! Beautiful guns. Thanks for sharing!
     
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  13. WAB

    WAB AH Elite

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    I love those gun rooms! I spent a day in the H&H factory a number of years ago. It is worth a visit as well. The next time you’re through you need to spend some time at one of the ranges. H&H’s is amazing for both rifle and shotgun.
     
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  14. bushy

    bushy AH Member

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    Thank you for sharing your visit, I would love too see these places one day.
     
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  15. spike.t

    spike.t AH ENABLER SPONSOR Since 2013 AH Ambassador

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  16. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Great stuff!! Really cool you mixed that into your trip! Thanks for sharing!
     
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  17. mark-hunter

    mark-hunter AH Fanatic

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    Apart from clothing, guns display in modern world is not politically correct....
    But great firearms, nonetheless!!!!! Thanks for sharing!
     
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  18. mark-hunter

    mark-hunter AH Fanatic

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    Apart from clothing, guns display in modern world is not politically correct....
    But great firearms, nonetheless!!!!! Thanks for sharing!
     
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  19. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Very cool stuff. Thanks for sharing!
     
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  20. Albert GRANT

    Albert GRANT AH Fanatic

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    And so shall they go the way of Abercrombie&Fitch eventually
     
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