There was a thorough apprenticeship system based on the old guild practice. Only just the right number of boys were taken on to replace those nearing retirement. The boy was instructed in one aspect of gun making by a skilled craftsman and, after serving his time of seven years, he was recognised as a skilled worker. In 1880 Purdey's best quality guns, handmade throughout, cost £65 - £70, with delivery of eighteen months or more from the time of ordering.

In North Wharf Road the factory had a large square light well in the centre, with the action makers above and barrel makers below. Wire netting was stretched over the well to prevent the barrel makers being stunned by tools dropped from the benches above. This did not prevent the fumes and smoke from the furnaces below pouring upwards, to loud protests.

After the Second World War problems of inflation caused great concern. Guns took at least two years from ordering to delivery. In that time inflation would destroy any possible profit. The market too had changed. Few at home could afford the prices, so new customers had to be found abroad. At one period the firm branched out into tool and mould making for other firms, but ceased this in 1960. The Praed Street mould-making factory was closed, the firm moved to North Wharf Road, opposite Dudley House, and concentrated on gun making once again. In 1979 the firm moved to Hammersmith.

The action shop at lrongate Wharf Road (now Harbet Road) in 19331

In 2001 the factory site changed once again, becoming part of the second Metropole Hotel extension. People are now dancing to the echoes of ghostly shot guns and workshop banter.


  1. Photograph from ‘Purdey's: the Guns and the family’, by Richard Beaumont, David & Charles, 1984, by permission.


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Updated January 29, 2011