Pctures from the Birmingham Proof House and Gun Trade

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Vikram
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Pctures from the Birmingham Proof House and Gun Trade

Post by Vikram » Thu Feb 11, 2021 2:02 am

From this amazing link:

All the copyrights belong to the Birmingham Mail.

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/n ... se-9803143

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Birmingham Gun Barrel Proof House in Banbury Street, Digbeth.

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Test beds in the laboratory for test barrels from proof and commercial ammunition.

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Wayne Massey, lab technician, in a gun testing booth.

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The Cartridge Pattern Museum.

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Georgian Boardroom.

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Roger Hancox, proof master, checking a gun in the Georgian boardroom.

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1940's photo of the gun barrels as they are loaded.

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Jill Birch of Handsworth with new Vulcan air rifle in July 197911 of 37

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Sales Manager John Hill with the Webley Hawk rifle in April 1971

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Shotgun Barrel straightening at the Handsworth Factory in March 1974

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John Pugh Showing the Mayor and Mayoress of West Bromwich, Councillor and Mrs. W.H.J Manifold, a shotgun barrel in October 1972

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Barrel proofing tests in 1969.

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The factory of WW Greener in St Marys Row, gun smiths of Birmingham in 1900.

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Some of the thousands of SMLE rifles at the Small Heath armoury of Parker Hall, with Mr Kenneth Lissemore, armourer, in 1958.

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The gun quarter of Birmingham.

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Mr Sidney Reynolds who has stood for 50 years at a factory bench in 1956

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Rifle men aiming in 1952

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Miss Edna Parker watches Dennis Thompson, an armourer for Alfred J. Parker Ltd, work on a 7.62 target rifle which has special target sights designed by the company, in 1978.

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Albert Brown examining the first of the 1,000 guns, while his brother, Sidney Brown, works on the barrels of another.

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Birmingham Proof House.

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The Birmingham Gun Quarter

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The Birmingham Gun Quarter in February 1980.

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Birmingham Proof House.

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Mr Morgan with his 38 Smith and Wesson revolver and his wife with her 22 Walther automatic, in 1966.

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Birmingham Gun Quarter.

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Howard Essex at Birmingham's Gun Quarter.

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Ken Halbert, gun smith in gun making section and Mr Clode, MD, at Westley Richard and Co.

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Mr Stan Thomas, 41, scrap metal dealer, with relics of the north west frontier.

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Ian Stewart looks down the barrel of a revolver at the Birmingham Gun Barrel Proof House.

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Birmingham Gun Quarter.

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Howard Essex at Birmingham's Gun Quarter.


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The world-famous Greeners gunmakers on St Marys Row in the early 1900s.

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The Gun Barrel Proof House on Banbury Street.

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The Guardians of the Birmingham Proof House in 1913 with William L Powell J.P. sat in the middle.

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Re: Pctures from the Birmingham Proof House and Gun Trade

Post by timmy » Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:42 am

Wow! Vikram, thanks for sharing these great pics! Here are some of my thoughts regarding a few of them:

Shotgun barrel straightening: I've seen pics like this in some old American book, where a barrelmaker is straightening rifle barrels in the same way with a similar tool. This was the old way of doing it -- I don't think that, with modern manufacturing, this is done anymore. For a shotgun, I doubt that it would matter much, but for a rifle, when the barrel gets heated, it wants to go back to its original form, and thus isn't as accurate as a barrel that hasn't been straightened.

Barrel proofing tests: A lovely Martini Cadet with target sights and a bull barrel. How wonderful it would be to have that rifle now!!! (or, any time, really.)

thousands of SMLE rifles: I saw it and had a fantasy that I was invited to one of those TV game shows, and they gave me 10 minutes to grab anything in that room and cart it away to keep!

an armourer for Alfred J. Parker Ltd: I would like to have one of those Parker target sights for my RFI 2A, but even more, I'd like to have one of those Australian Central sights for it, which are supposed to be the best, bar none.

38 Smith and Wesson revolver: It's interesting that all of the revolver pictures seem to be of Smith & Wessons; no Webleys and no Colts.

Howard Essex at Birmingham's Gun Quarter: Those guys are probably just about all gone, and forever. i once read about someone who toured the LC Smith shotgun factory in the 40s, after WW2, and they said that everyone working there were old men -- no young people.

Overall comment: It's wonderful to look at those pictures, but a bit sad, as it records the UK's industrial decline, too. Old methods and processes, and old guns. The same thing has now happened in the USA, where manufacturing started to decline in the 60s. Now a lot of the nice guns come from Japan, like Japanese Brownings and Howas. China and Russia make guns, but the examples I've seen are not like those from Japan in fit and finish, nor like the old stuff from the USA and the UK. For that matter, I've got old Mosin Nagants that show fine Russian workmanship in a military rifle (!) that's unlike what I see today. Even Turkey is making nice guns now.

Germany, Finland, Austria, and the Czech Republic continue to make fine guns, however. How is it that "older" manufacturing cultures like those countries still make and sell nice guns, But the UK and the USA has fallen down in quality and innovation?

Regarding this, consider that the UK doesn't even own a large car company anymore; they're owned by the Germans and Tata. The USA has 2 1/2 car companies, one of which is half owned by the Italians, and all of which would fold in a heartbeat if the "Chicken Laws" allowed the import of light trucks. GM and Ford have pretty much stopped making cars now. But both the Japanese and the Germans have three or more companies, and they are smaller countries! Furthermore, China makes more vehicles than the USA and Japan combined! The world has changed and so many don't notice, like the frog in the boiling pot.

But the real indicator for me regarding the UK, beside guns, is the motorcycle industry, where industrially, things went on like this until that whole industry collapsed under its own weight, its lack of innovation, and the onslaught by the Japanese motorcycle companies. The UK had all of those motorcycle companies, great ones like Triumph, BSA, Norton, Ariel, Matchless -- and now the market is dominated by Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki. The British motorcycle never really evolved beyond the Triumph Speed Twin of the 30s.

The gun industry was/is the same. The Germans and the Austrians evolved, despite the War, and the Japanese were reborn with new designs, many of which were fueled by designs from Browning, Weatherby, Smith & Wesson, etc. Even FN in Belgium has modernized and is a force in the gun industry. But the UK is just about dead 9except for rich men's exclusive guns) and the USA soldiers on with designs from the 50s and 60s, except for some Rugers.

So, it's a joy to see these old pics, but a bit sad, as well.
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Re: Pctures from the Birmingham Proof House and Gun Trade

Post by veeveeaar » Thu Feb 11, 2021 10:27 pm

Wow that was a feast for the eyes and it speaks volumes of the gun making business and its growth.

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Re: Pctures from the Birmingham Proof House and Gun Trade

Post by herb » Fri Feb 12, 2021 12:54 am

Thanks Vikram for the pics, really takes one back in time.

Wondering about the pic with the Vulcan air rifle, was there ever a requirement/process for proof testing air rifles in UK?

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Re: Pctures from the Birmingham Proof House and Gun Trade

Post by Vikram » Fri Feb 12, 2021 4:24 pm

Glad you gents liked the photos.

Tim,

I agree with your assessment of manufacturing sector in the UK. It is a sad decline especially for the gun trade. They have priced themselves out of the market save for premium guns. Even a simple boxlock gun newly made costs £15,000! Gunsmiths are not cheap either. In so many cases, the cost of having something repaired does not make financial sense.
herb wrote:
Fri Feb 12, 2021 12:54 am
Wondering about the pic with the Vulcan air rifle, was there ever a requirement/process for proof testing air rifles in UK?
Not to my knowledge.
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Re: Pctures from the Birmingham Proof House and Gun Trade

Post by timmy » Sat Feb 13, 2021 1:52 am

Vikram wrote:
Fri Feb 12, 2021 4:24 pm

I agree with your assessment of manufacturing sector in the UK. It is a sad decline especially for the gun trade. They have priced themselves out of the market save for premium guns. Even a simple boxlock gun newly made costs £15,000! Gunsmiths are not cheap either. In so many cases, the cost of having something repaired does not make financial sense.
Yes, that's the state of things. Back after WW1 and WW2, guys used to have military rifles "sporterized" because they couldn't afford the expensive guns coming from the manufacturers. A nice, clean conversion of a M98 Mauser or '03 Springfield served very nicely in the field. Now, those guns are priced at sky-high levels, and a brand new Savage, one of the most accurate factory rifles one can buy, sells for around $300, sometimes even packaged with a cheap scope!

(I know someone who bought one of those same Savage bolt rifles on sale in .223/5.56, and he says it shoots just fine!)

A good gunsmith charges an arm and a leg now, and considering the cost of his machine tools and rent for a shop, it's no wonder! Things are about to the point where, if you can't do it yourself, you have to be satisfied with what you have or get something new.

Still, it is great to look at those old pictures and think about times, and guns, of yesteryear.
“The principle of self defense, even involving weapons and bloodshed, has never been condemned, even by Gandhi.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” - Maya Angelou

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Re: Pctures from the Birmingham Proof House and Gun Trade

Post by chandramohan » Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:07 am

EXCELLENT 👌👌👌

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Re: Pctures from the Birmingham Proof House and Gun Trade

Post by mundaire » Sat Feb 13, 2021 10:26 am

What a great collection of photographs! Thanks for sharing :)
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Re: Pctures from the Birmingham Proof House and Gun Trade

Post by AlanD » Sun Mar 14, 2021 7:45 am

Fantastic set of photos, thanks for posting.

Regards

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Re: Pctures from the Birmingham Proof House and Gun Trade

Post by andy_65_in » Sun Mar 14, 2021 10:35 am

can these chaps predict the vintage of their proofed firearm..lets say my BSA make shotgun

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Re: Pctures from the Birmingham Proof House and Gun Trade

Post by Vikram » Sun Mar 14, 2021 5:17 pm

andy_65_in wrote:
Sun Mar 14, 2021 10:35 am
can these chaps predict the vintage of their proofed firearm..lets say my BSA make shotgun
Proof marks give you a rough idea of the period when a firearm made, if it was proved, as proof marks change. You will need the serial number and the manufacturer's name for the exact year of manufacturing.
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Re: Pctures from the Birmingham Proof House and Gun Trade

Post by andy_65_in » Sun Mar 14, 2021 6:37 pm

Vikram wrote:
Sun Mar 14, 2021 5:17 pm
andy_65_in wrote:
Sun Mar 14, 2021 10:35 am
can these chaps predict the vintage of their proofed firearm..lets say my BSA make shotgun
Proof marks give you a rough idea of the period when a firearm made, if it was proved, as proof marks change. You will need the serial number and the manufacturer's name for the exact year of manufacturing.
BSA make...serial number is known...

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Re: Pctures from the Birmingham Proof House and Gun Trade

Post by Vikram » Sun Mar 14, 2021 8:03 pm

Yeah. Post the serial number and photos of the proof marks. We can try to find the year of manufacture.
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Re: Pctures from the Birmingham Proof House and Gun Trade

Post by Hammerhead » Tue Mar 16, 2021 4:42 pm

Vikram wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 2:02 am
From this amazing link:

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Mr Stan Thomas, 41, scrap metal dealer, with relics of the north west frontier.


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Scrap metal....... Nah, that's a million dollars inventory my friend. Those swords and helmets !
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