In mid-June the British gun trade lost one of its most knowledgeable and enduring craftsmen with the death of Ian Crudgington. A noted gunmaker, expert and author on the development and construction of early British breechloading guns, Crudgington was a native of Bath, England. He was 89 years old.
Crudgington learned the art of gunmaking while still in school, when a local maker allowed him to help in his workshop. He would go to the shop as much as time allowed, helping with all sorts of tasks, including being the “power” for a large screw-cutting treadle lathe used to bore out rook rifles to .410.
After war service and a short time as a trainee farm manager for the 10th Duke of Beaufort at Badminton House, Crudgington opened his own gunshop in Bath in 1948—encouraged by the Duke’s pledge to patronize and recommend Crudgington’s services to his coterie of sporting friends. The business prospered and employed an average of five gunsmiths on separate larger premises in Bath. It also started some 50 apprentices over 60 years. In 1960 Crudgington purchased the famous Bristol maker George Gibbs Ltd. Crudgington closed up and retired in 2008 at the age of 83. His son Mark now owns and operates the firm in Wiltshire.
In 1979 Crudgington was the co-author, with David Baker, of The British Shotgun Volume 1—1850-1870, the first of three volumes that have become standards for students of British firearms. Baker largely wrote the second and third volumes, with the third being completed and the entire set reprinted in new editions in 2011.
“In all things, and especially as co-author in The British Shotgun trilogy, Ian was always supportive but never intrusive, it was his knowledge and wonderful collection that gave me the confidence to embark on the project,” Baker recently wrote. “As an example of his support, it was through him that we were invited by HRH to go to Sandringham to see the Royal Collection as part of the research. Can it get any better?”
Crudgington was twice the master of the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers and was a past chairman of the Gunmakers Association and the Long Sufferers Association. He was a strong advocate for integrating the high standards of English gunmaking with modern production methods.
Crudgington also was a good shot with both rifle and shotgun, using mostly a single-trigger gun he built himself in 1963. His favorite rifle was a .256 Gibbs Magnum built in 1911.
Crudgington’s other interests included entomology, building, gardening, gamekeeping and fishing. He married twice, and his first wife and eldest son predeceased him. His second wife, Carol, died the day after his funeral. He is survived by three sons and a daughter from his second marriage.