W W GREENER
Makers of Fine Guns since 1829

Trade Mark

Copyright © Graham Greener  2012

Registered Office:

W W Greener (Sporting Guns) Limited, The Mews, Hagley hall, Hagley, Stourbridge, DY9 9LG, United Kingdom

Telephone: +44-(0)1666-510351

E-mail: sales @wwgreener.com

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HISTORY

William Greener was the first member of the family to make guns. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to John Gardner a gunmaker in Newcastle Upon Tyne. in Northumberland. When qualified he went to London and worked for Joe Manton, one of the best gunmakers in the early 1800’s. William returned to Newcastle in 1829 and set up on his own as a gunmaker making percussion muzzle loading sporting shotguns and rifles, and harpoon guns for the Dundee whalers. However, it was difficult to obtain the best materials in that city so in 1844 he moved to Birmingham where our gunmaking has remained ever since.

William was also an inventor and during his lifetime he invented; the expansive bullet (1835), an electric light in 1846 (long before the modern 'Ediswan' lamp was patented in 1879), a device to open the four gates of a railway level crossing simultaneously, a self-righting lifeboat (1851) and modifications to the Miners Safety Lamp. But first and foremost he was a gun maker and the quality of his guns soon attracted the rich and famous, among these Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria. At The Great Exhibition of 1851 he won two gold medals and a diploma "for guns and barrels, perfectly forged and finished" - the highest honour obtainable. He went on to win two silver medals at the Paris Exposition of 1855 but throughout his life he made percussion muzzle loaders - he was sceptical of the new breech loaders, then in their infancy. William wrote three books, The Gun in 1834, The Science of Gunnery in 1846 and Gunnery in 1858 published in that year and he was instrumental in reforming the Gun Barrel Proof House in the Act of 1855.

After William's death in 1869 his second son, William Wellington Greener, continued the family tradition of making high quality sporting and military guns, and his inventions helped to develop the breech-loader to make it the modern sporting gun we know today. Probably W W Greener's greatest contributions to gun making were, perfecting the system of choke boring and inventing the famous cross-bolt. The former allowed him to win all The Field Trials from 1875 to 1879 and this led to most wing shots using Greener guns to win prizes and competitions all over the world. The cross-bolt which he invented in 1873 to strengthen the action of breech loaders resulted in the strongest action, weight for weight, of any gun made. By the turn of the century in 1900 he had the world's largest sporting gun factory employing over four hundred and fifty skilled craftsmen. Like his father he wrote many books the most famous of which The Gun and its Development was published in 1881. This book like The Breechloader and how to use it published in 1892 ran to nine editions.

W W Greener's two sons Harry and Charles took over the business from their father in 1910 and ten years later the firm was incorporated into a Limited Company. Production was switched to military requirements during two world wars and during the intervening period demand for the very high quality sporting guns, which had been made between 1880 and 1914, diminished. The company under the two brothers and later Leyton Greener, Harry's son, concentrated on well made, but less expensive 'Empire' models and the single barrel GP shotgun, developed from a riot control gun for the Egyptian police force.

But the building of the inner ring road in Birmingham meant the factory complex fronting St Mary's Square had to go.  So in 1965 the company was sold, the old factory with its imposing Victorian edifice was pulled down and production for the company as a family run business ceased. Webley, which acquired the gun making part of the business continued to make the single barrel GP for a few years but it was not until 1985 that the company was bought by its present owners, including Graham Greener, W W Greener's great grandson, David Dryhurst and Richard Tandy, two of the country's finest gunmakers and Ken Richardson, who owned a business making sporting accessories.

In the next couple of years important decisions were made which resulted in a return to making best quality sporting guns once again. To promote this in 1987 Graham Greener decided to build the 'New St George' 12 bore side-lock. This design was chosen as the company was now making ‘best’ guns again and the lock plates provided a large area for some very special chiselled relief engraving of St George and the Dragon - it would link the to the previous 'Show Gun', a Unique ejector 'St George' shotgun, made by Harry Greener in 1907, with the very best Presentation quality guns the company was now making. Finished in 1992 and engraved by Alan and Paul Brown this gun led to many orders being placed for similar models, and sets of guns ranging from 28 to 12 bores in the years that followed. To further extend the range the company has re-introduced limited edition guns based on the familiar 'Facile Princeps' model but instead of using the Baker or Southgate ejector-work a modified form of this ejector-work has been employed, which is more reliable.

To commemorate the bicentennial of the largest real estate deal in history, when the United States of America purchased all the land from the Mississippi river to the Rocky Mountains, from France, a W W Greener 'Unique' ejector gun was made in 2004 with chiselled relief engraving and precious metal inlays. W W Greener had previously made a similar pair of  Exhibition quality for the St Louis World Fair of 1904 - organised to mark the centennial of that purchase. This was followed by another St George 12 bore, again employing Unique ejectors.  Both guns, together with the New St George side-lock, a new Facile Princeps 20 bore and a new scroll engraved side lock were exhibited at the Safari Club International Convention and Exhibition in Reno in 2004. They were all show stoppers. One of the best London gun makers commented, "These are the best guns at the show," and a top European engraver added, "They are superb." Recently a new hammer gun with carved engraving has been made and a .375, double barrel, Facile Princeps rifles A few Limited Edition Facile Princeps shotguns and rifles presently are being made together with individual guns, pairs and sets in 12, 16, 20 and 28 bore.

But the Greener family were also authors and Graham Greener was aware that no-one had written a book about the history of the company or its guns since 1910 - when the last edition of The Gun and its Development appeared. So along with organising the sales and administration of the reformed company he set about researching and writing The Greener Story published by Quiller Press in 2000. For this work he was nominated for Best Antiques Writer at the BACA awards, short-listed, and then selected as one of two runners up for this award.  It is rewarding that a book about guns and shooting can figure for a prestigious award when so much publicity is against the sport. A new book to follow upon the success of  his first - The Greener Collections is now available, published by W W Greener (Sporting Guns) limited in September 2012. This is not a second edition of The Greener Story but an entirely new book covering information which has come to light since the first book was published and providing illustrations of some of the finest guns made by the company from 1829 to the present day. However, copies of The Greener Story are still available.


William Greener 1806-1869

W W Greener 1834-1921

Harry Greener 1865-1929

Charles Greener 1868-1950

Leyton Greener 1903-1983

Graham Greener 1942-

W W Greener Showroom in St Mary’s Square Works 1884-1965

Copyright © Graham Greener  2012


Registered Office:

W W Greener (Sporting Guns) Limited, The Mews, Hagley hall, Hagley, Stourbridge, DY9 9LG, United Kingdom

Telephone: +44-(0)1666-510351

E-mail: sales @wwgreener.com