Gun Information: W. Cox & Sons, Southhampton; Benjamin Norman, Framlingham

User: St. Lawrence

Date: 18 Oct 2007 at 21:35

I have searched the Data Base without success for information on these two makers. I recently purchased a 16 bore BLNE made by W. Cox & Sons and have found it to be of exceptional quality not only in finish but in wood. Gun by proof marks was made between 1925-1954.

The second gun is a 12 bore hammer with Jones underlever by B. Norman of Framlingham. This is No. 2 of a pair and is simply exquisite in engraving and wood. Any information would be greatly appreciated along with pictures of the premises and/or trade labels.

User: Tiger

Date: 19 Oct 2007 at 11:18

Hi St Lawrence,

I think you are putting in too much information and confusing the search engine. Select UK and just enter "Cox" or "Norman" in the last names box, then press search or enter. Both are in the database, but are you sure it is Cox & Sons rather than Cox & Son? Any pictures? We can put them up for you if you like? Close-ups of the marks on the barrel flats would be an idea.

User: St. Lawrence

Date: 19 Oct 2007 at 13:20

The serial number of the Cox gun is 5725 and is a 16 bore, 28" BLNE. The rib inscription is "W. Cox & Son, High Street Southampton". The gun has a moderate amount of engraving and is in superb condition. The wood is very light in color with excellent grain in the buttstock. I would be interested in knowing the date of manufacture, if Cox made the guns themselves or simply put their name on them and any other information pertaining to the gun. With direction I'd gladly post photo's. On disassembling the gun for cleaning, every part in the receiver is serially numbered and the stock inletting is flawless. Certainly much better workmanship than one might expect for a BLNE.

User: Tiger

Date: 19 Oct 2007 at 16:55

Hi St Lawrence,

The Cox gun dates to 1940, it may well be a Webley and if not, it was made by another Birmingham trade maker. About half dozen or so with numbers in the 5000 range appear to have been made for Cox in that year, and a couple of others by another maker. The firm probably didn't sell more than one or two new guns in the following war years.

East Anglian gun makers are of personal interest, so I've done a bit more research and reproduce it below in case you've looked at the Norman history today.

Benjamin Norman was the son of William Norman Jnr (a butcher) and Ann. He was born in 1833 in Eye in Suffolk.

In about 1847 he was apprenticed to a gun maker, but whether it was a local gunmaker or not is not known. In the 1851 census he was living at home with his mother (then a widow), brothers and sister; this implies that he was apprenticed to a local gun maker but it may well be that he was apprenticed to James Purdey, he reportedly worked for Purdey (amongst others?), possibly as an outworker.

In the 1861 census he was recorded living at 43 Markham Street, Chelsea. He was married to Eliza at the time and they had a son, William (b.1860 in Chelsea).

In about 1870 he returned to Suffolk establishing his business in Church Street. He described himself in the 1881 census as a master gun maker, and at this time his son, William (aged 21) was described as a gun maker.

By 1891 Benjamin and Eliza had moved to Market Hill leaving William and his wife Mary, and their son William G Norman, to live above the shop in Church Street.

By the time of the 1901 census, William and Mary had had at least one other son, Benjamin H (b.1892) and a daughter, Hilda (b. 1894).

In about 1901 it appears the firm established a branch in Woodbridge, Suffolk, which may have been when the name changed to B Norman & Son, and later perhaps to Norman & Sons. When this shop closed is not known, but it was probably prior to 1930.

By the 1970s the firm had moved from Framlingham to Haughley, and it specialised in restoring guns. They appear to have closed in about 1975.

User: St. Lawrence

Date: 19 Oct 2007 at 17:19

Tiger: I cannot thank you enough for the information on the Cox and Norman. I like to develop a history of all the 'old' guns I have in my collection.

User: Tiger

Date: 19 Oct 2007 at 18:50

If you can email a side view fairly close-up picture of the Norman gun we'd be happy to put it up in his history. The "other" Cox guns may have been sidelocks of even better quality.

User: St. Lawrence

Date: 19 Oct 2007 at 19:12

Tiger: The Norman action and stock are having a leather covered recoil pad installed and will not be back for another month or so - I'll post then. What I do have are photo's of the lock work and stock inletting. The stock based on inletting technique is a replacement done many years later than the guns date of manufacture. It is a superb piece of wood.