Archive Article: 2001/07/27

27 July 2001

She was a secretary and he was a draughtsman serving in the army with firearms as his all-consuming hobby. On demob he decided to buy a shop in Honley, near Huddersfield, and start his own business as a gunsmith. "Our ambition was to make a hundred pounds a year which, considering his forces pay was 27/6d (£1.37) would mean a big leap in our fortunes," says Wendy.

The financial target was achieved and the business prospered to become highly respected in the gun trade. Classical firearms, such as Purdey, Holland & Holland, and Boss, pass through their workshop for a facelift along with antique pieces, such as Wogdons and John Daftes, dating back to the 17th century.

Andrew joined the business and now specialises in miniatures. He has won a silver medal in Houston, Texas, for a pistol in a case with all its accessories and tools. One quarter-size, it fits neatly in the palm of your hand.

&#42 Local firm

The Dysons have incorporated the local firm of William Golden, gunmaker to the late King of Prussia, into their business and for four years ran a workshop in the Royal Armouries in Leeds, where Peter was presented to the Queen. One of the finest weapons they ever made is still on permanent display there – a double-barrelled flintlock shotgun, inlaid with 24 carat gold, with chased silver plates in the butt, featuring the Armouries on one side and the Tower of London on the other.

Arms tend to survive history as the Waterloo pistol, one of a pair brought in by a colonel for restoration, proves.

Standing under the head of a huge bison, mounted on her sitting room wall, Wendy says Buffalo Bills guns havent passed through the workshop, but several guns belonging to the sharpshooters in his Wild West Show have!

Another magnificent gun the Dysons have made from the original pattern, is the Duke of Richmonds musket. It was meant to replace Brown Bess, the standard British Army weapon for 200 years, but it was scuppered on cost and never went into production.

Wendy started her gun career by cleaning weapons coming in for refurbishment. When a stockfinisher they had hired from a top London gunmarker kept doing a runner she decided "it didnt look too difficult" and started specialising in this work. "I can repair any part of a gun and make a rusty old weapon look loved again but I do like the feel of wood, especially on the old firearms. I am not very keen on the modern ones."

She also relines and refits pistol and gun cases in their distinctive original styles.

The Dyons are involved in all aspects of gunmaking and restoration. They make tools for guns, such as ebony-handled screwdrivers, and reproduce old gun trade labels. They are the only commercial firm in the world to make Whitworth bullet moulds in the traditional style.

&#42 Blow to trade

Since the Dunblane massacre, which dealt the gun trade a catastrophic blow, they have closed their shop and moved the business to the basement of their home nearby. It is where Peters great, great grandparents worked below stairs in the 19th century.

They regularly attend gun shows in Europe and America and weapons are sent to them for restoration from all over the world. Peter does a bit of shooting, but Wendy says: "When guns are your day job you want something different for relaxation. I like gardening and interior decorating."

Inquiries: Tel: 01484-661062.

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