The virus currently inflicting so much damage on the economy has claimed its first victim from the London gun trade.
William & Son closed its doors in early July, this time, it seems, for good. The enforced closure period allowing for the furlough of staff was weathered and the shop re-openned but poor footfall in what is now a very quiet West End has led to the decision to call in the receivers.
William & Son was started by William Asprey and the gun making team was headed by Paul West and sales director Ian Andrews. Chris Hunter took care of clothing and as a team the four of them created a special little brand to offer superb quality shooting kit and sporting guns to customers at prices far more attainable than many of their nearby competitors.
William & Sons offerd side-by side guns built in the London trade and over & under guns based on a Boxall & Edmiston platform. Their leather goods and shooting kit was stylish, practical and popular.
William & Son sidelocks were based on the Holland & Holland self-opening action, just as modern Holland & Holland 'Royal' guns are. However, they were traditionally actioned by Mark Sullivan from forgings, not from CNC machine made parts. This makes the actioning time double what it currently is at Holland & Holland but the gun is truly hand-made. Engraved by Geoffrey Casbard and stocked by Stephan Dupille, the guns were superb and marketed at around £10,000 less than a Holland & Holland 'Royal'.
I'm sure William Asprey will re-emerge with something notable and I wish Paul, Ian and Chris well in finding new jobs in the Trade. I hope we will not see other well-loved firms buckle under the economic pressure of high rents and low footfall. I understand William & Son paid around £200,000 per month in rent and the absence of the usual annual influx of Arabs to the West End had a hugely detrimental effect after the lifting of lock-down.
Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on (modified )