Midlands Regional Group – Meeting No.3 Report

posted 15 September 2023, 5:02 pm

The third meeting of the HBSA Midlands Regional Group took place on Thursday 7th September 2023. This meeting was once again able to take place due to the support of the Committee and members of The Stourport on Severn Pistol and Rifle Club too whom we are very grateful.

A total of 10 invited guests and members attended, with apologies from 2 others.

The proceedings commenced in good time with a general discussion regarding what topics future meeting should address. A visit to the Birmingham Proof House will be investigated over the Winter.

Mr Paul Elford very kindly presented what is best described as a Show and Tell session. His Title for this session was “The Hammer and Rebound”.

Paul informed us that his main area of interest is what he described as “Gentlemen’s Fine Sporting Arms”. Over a period of many years Paul has collected not only firearms but has also acquired a number of component parts from such items.

This is a brief resumé of the discussion.

The development of Hammer Locks for Central Fire Shotguns etc. generally took place during the mid-1800’s. It was during this time that improvement’s in steel production occurred, plus the work carried out by a number of Gunsmiths/Engineers within the UK which drove this development. Various patents were registered which is a topic in its own right worthy of investigation. 

Some 15-20 locks (some in pairs) were available for inspection, most of which had makers names stamped into them, with the majority being engraved. The quality of the lock’s presented was incredible when you consider that everything was handmade. The considered opinion being that a high percentage of locks would have been manufactured in or around Birmingham in very small workshops by outworkers.

These looks would have been manufactured to order, to a particular specification. Guns would have been assembled and fitted from a collection of component parts from a chain of suppliers. The finished gun would then have been stamped with the name of the retailer ready for sale to the end user.

One point of interest was the engraving, obviously carried out by skilled individuals who had never seen a hunting dog, of the type that you would expect to see today on a game shoot. These engravers most probably would have been illiterate, living a life based around their workshop and had only seen city dogs, possibly only guard or fighting dogs. Hence the engraved dogs resemble the type they were familiar with and not your refined Labrador or Springer Spaniel.

Overall the evening provided a window into Firearm manufacture, development and even the working conditions and life style of the mid to late 1800’s.

The meeting closed at 8:45 pm with all participants having had I believe a most enjoyable evening.

A big THANK YOU to Paul who presented a very interesting show and tell session.
A topic that most of us had never considered before.

And to all who attended and supported this meeting.