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An insight into Charles Lancaster & Co - Ben Laidlaw



  Charles Lancaster started out in the gun trade as a barrel maker and was a charter member of the Manton class craftsmen who learned their trade and espoused the demand aesthetic principles propounded by Joseph Manton.
Among these men were tradesmen named, James Purdey and Thomas Boss who also later went on to achieve great success in the gun making trade and their craft like Charles Lancaster was forged in the Manton workshop.
Charles Lancaster was Joseph Manton's barrel maker and in 1811 he went on to set up his own shop in Drury Lane, supplying barrels to Manton and the rest of the London Gun Trade and later went on to making complete guns in 1826 at 151 New Bond Street. Barrels supplied to the trade during this period were marked with CL, now days if you can find an English gun with initials CL on the barrels then they are made by Lancaster even if they have another makers name on the top rib.


  By 1843 Charles Lancaster had been awarded his first Royal warrant from the Prince Consort and there were many more that followed.
Lancaster died in 1847 and the business was carried on by his son, Charles William and in 1855, a second son Alfred, joined the company, but left in 1859 to set his own business as a gun maker trading as A. Lancaster, Gun & Rifle Manufacturer.
It was around this time that the Lancaster's became competitors within the trade and for the next 20 years the two firms were very successful as London Gunmakers.

Alfred was located at 27 South Audley Street, close to the current address of James Purdey, then later in 1886 moved to 50 Green Street, close to Park Lane. This was an attractive address at the time as it is today so Alfred was obviously successful as was Charles.
The two brothers were competitive Live Pigeon shots and together the brothers took out joint patents for a number of inventions, many of these relate to barrel making and rifling. Charles William Lancaster in 1850 patented the Lancaster oval-bore rifling system that had god success around that time and Alfred also had patents of his own.

 
Lancaster Catalogue

"Lancaster Catalogue "


C.W. Lancaster died in 1878, and Charles Lancaster Gunmakers was acquired by Henry A.A. Thorn.
Thorn was to become the saving grace of the Lancaster name when he later acquired he name of Alfred Lancaster after his death in 1890.
A Lancaster had a brief spell of work completed by W.J. Jeffery after his death in 1890 and later in 1892 Thorn combined the companies into Charles Lancaster & Co.
Incidentally, the very successful book titled "the art of shooting" by Charles Lancaster was actually written by Thorne although it always says "by Charles Lancaster" the book covered 14 editions.
 
The Lancaster Over & Under

"The Lancaster Over & Under"

The Famous 12/20

"The Famous 12/20"


In 1925 Lancaster introduced the 12/20 shotgun. The 12/20 is a 12 bore gun built on a 20 bore action, this reduces weight and improves handling and it is recommended to shoot with lighter loads for obvious reasons,these guns are desirable today and quite hard to come by.
Lancaster also experimented with multi-barrel guns and many army officers used Lancaster's four-barrel pistols until the evolution of the revolver.
Like many London gunmakers Charles Lancaster made guns for the Army & Navy stores and these guns were often marked with Cs.L. somewhere on the action flats to show the true maker of the gun.
In 1932 Lancaster amalgamated with Grant & Lang and the name all but disappeared until 1989, when it was purchased by a consortium that included the lock maker Joseph Brazier, and guns were made once again under the Charles Lancaster name.
Charles Lancaster without doubt made some of the finest guns, and we still see them being used in the field today.


 

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