Having risen very wild the first time and just out of reach the second, the covey of greys burst out of the hedge bottom almost at my feet. I mounted the little Army and Navy 20-bore smartly and missed with both barrels as the partridges slipped over the hedge.
I had dreamed of this moment since early summer, when I collected the beautifully restored gun from gunsmith Mark Crudgington, except that in the dream version there had been a right-and-left. Nevertheless, a little bit of history had been reenacted, for walking-up wild greys would have been common practice back when the gun was made.
I am researching the detail with the University of Glasgow, where the Army and Navy Co-operative Society records are archived, but the little gun was made in about 1895 and Mark is pretty sure it was made by W & C Scott.
Exactly when it came into my family is unclear, but by the 1920s it belonged to my great-grandfather, Charles William Shaw. A careful look at its canvas and leather case reveals his initials, now faded, and embossed over the original ‘M.R.P.’.
Now, Charlie Shaw had a bit of a reputation as a man who preferred play to work. He owned a large farm somewhere near Chatham, in Kent, but to quote my mum, “He was workshy. He would give jobs to the men in the morning and then go off to some posh shoot or other.”
Judging by my granny (his daughter) Hilda’s postcard collection, he enjoyed the ‘grand tour’, too. Whatever, by the time my mum and dad married in 1946, his money had run out and he was living in Granny and Grandfather Swan’s humble terraced house, reliant on her generosity for his weekly pocket money. In the meantime, he had sold the gun to his son-in-law, my paternal grandad, so that he could clear his debts at the pub.
A pot-hunter’s gun
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