Foreword

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the many interesting facilities and services that our famous Birmingham Gun Barrel Proof House is able to offer.

The growth of gun making in London led in 1637 to the incorporation by Royal Charter of the London Company of Gunmakers. This Charter marked the introduction of “proof” into England. Similarly in Birmingham, with a population at this time of only 4000, there was a flourishing trade of guns. Indeed, by 1767 Birmingham could boast of having 35 gun and pistol makers, 8 gun barrel makers and filers, 5 gun barrel polishers and finishers, 11 gunlock makers, forgers and finishers, and 3 gun swivel and stock makers, supplying all of the kingdom.

The reputable gunmakers of Birmingham had set themselves a high standard for material and workmanship and were eager to submit their products to an independent. compulsory proof test as available to the London Trade.

Private Proof Houses were in use in Birmingham, sited on the premises of reputable gunmakers and available for use by others, but as proof was not compulsory they were not used by the less reputable members of the trade. As a result, the Birmingham Proof House was established in 1813, by Act of Parliament, it was requested and obtained by the Birmingham Trade at its own expense.

Almost 200 years later the purpose of the Birmingham Gun Barrel Proof House remains essentially unchanged and is able to offer many additional services to that of proof. Inside this historical & unique institute are assembled a store of documents and artefacts of real interest and today I have the opportunity of sharing some of this with you.

The Birmingham Gun Barrel Proof House, Banbury Street, Birmingham B5 5RH, England, Tel. 0121 643 3860, Fax 0121 643 7872

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