Harris Holland, the first Holland in the story and the founder of the company. His journey into the world of gun making did not follow the conventional path of those other big names such as Thomas Boss and James Purdey. Born into a family of organ makers, this is where Harris Holland first developed an understanding of real craftsmanship. At around the age of 25, Harris left the family business and started a new venture in the tobacco trade. He was a very keen shot and this is believed to be the principle reason for starting the gunmaking business H Holland in 1835.
98 Bond Street
As the company expanded, Harris Holland found it integral to attract an upmarket clientele and so he moved the business to 98 New Bond Street. Holland & Holland would stay at this address for over one-hundred years and it would forever become associated with the company.
1845 - 1930
With the gun making business well and truly established, the company took on an important apprentice by the name of Henry Holland. Henry, the nephew of Harris Holland would become an important figure in the company’s history. Henry Holland had incredible talents combining business acumen with inventive genius. As an inventor he must rank as one of the most prolific gun inventors of all time.
Holland & Holland register their first Patent No. 1904 for Bolt Action Rifle and slide and drop Action. In total, Holland & Holland has registered fifty-one patents, more so than any other British gunmaker.
Holland & Holland
In 1876 Henry Holland was made a partner in the business and the company name changed to Holland & Holland. This was the first advertisement to be published in The Field dated 8 January 1876 showing the name Holland & Holland
Despite being made a partner, Henry Holland was not allowed to sign any cheques regarding the business. Only upon Harris Holland’s death in 1896 he could take full control of the company.
The Willsden Shooting & Testing Ground, was acquired by Harris Holland in the 1850s to shoot and test rifles. In 1880 its name was changed to the Kensal Rise Shooting Grounds. At the turn of the century the demand for building land increased, as the metropolis expanded, and with only three months notice Holland & Holland was asked to vacate the Kensal Rise Grounds in 1913. New Grounds were found at North Forty Farm (pictured), near Wembley Park Station. The freehold of this ground was purchased in 1923 but again due to pressure for building land the grounds were sold in 1931.
A Clean Sweep
The Field Magazine launch a rifle trial in London in which Holland & Holland entered every class. Ten tests were undertaken with varying calibres and rifles. Messrs Holland wins every class, an achievement the company were more than happy to promote. The Field commented…..’Mr H Holland, who personally designed the whole of the magnificent series of rifles which were tested by us, also richly deserves the credit that attaches to their performance. We understand that all were rifled under his superintendence and afterwards regulated and shot at his Kensal Green ground by Mr Froome’.
Royal Trade Mark
The ’Royal’ trade mark is awarded and applied to the “Royal” Ejector. The design would change throughout the years but the “Royal” trademark would still appear on all guns of this model.
Harrow Road Factory
Holland & Holland’s first factory was built at 527 Harrow Road. This image taken in 1894 shows the workers posing outside the front of the building.
Shortly after the first factory, it became very apparent that there was a need to move to a bigger premises. Henry Holland decided to build a new factory only half a mile from the original factory along the Harrow Road and it is still the site of our factory today. The building was deliberately built to be tall and slim with large windows for maximum light. In 1898 Holland & Holland also became a limited company, Holland & Holland Ltd.
The Detachable Lock
Henry Holland & Thomas Woodward (Factory Manager) introduced a simple innovation that will forever be associated with Holland & Holland – the detachable lock.
The famous .375 Holland & Holland Magnum was introduced. No other cartridge stands above the .375 H&H in the minds of amateur and professional hunters, ensuring that the .375 will continue to justify the highest reputation for generations to come. However, the.375 Magnum did not appear overnight, it had a lengthy development history beginning around 1899 when Holland & Holland introduced the .375 Cordite Express.
Col. J Holland
1879 - 1957
On the death of his father, Henry Holland, Colonel Jack Holland was appointed Chairman of Holland & Holland.
Although his chosen career was the army and not gunmaking, Colonel Jack Holland successfully led Holland & Holland through the most difficult decades in the history of the company – The depression of the 1930s, World War Two and the uncertain post-war period. Throughout his life he was dedicated to his family, he was fair and was very affectionate about the company, so much so that his ashes were scattered at the Shooting Grounds in Northwood.
New Shooting Grounds
The new Badminton Shooting Grounds at Ducks Hill, Northwood Middlesex, opened in January 1932. The Holland & Holland Shooting Grounds are still there today. In 1982 a new pavilion was built with the original pavilion being used as dining facilities for the increased demand in corporate events. Situated in over 100 acres of rolling countryside and only 17 miles from the centre of London it is the ideal place to host an event, in the knowledge that guests are in very capable hands with some of the world’s top instructors.
1939 - 1945
The War Years
During this time the government issued a number of contracts to Holland & Holland but the one most associated with the company was to convert and produce over 23,000 No.4 (T) Sniper Rifles. The variety and quantity of work produced during the war years was quite staggering with much of the work being carried out by women. Many of whom stayed on at the factory until the 1960s.
Holland & Holland and Westley Richards (Agency) amalgamate. Malcom Lyell becomes Managing Director of Holland & Holland and the company moves to new premises, 13 Bruton Street.
Holland & Holland awarded The Royal Warrant from HRH The Duke of Edinburgh for Rifle Making.
Products of Excellence
During the 1960s Malcolm Lyell was responsible for creating the idea behind “The Products of Excellence”. These guns would either have spectacular engraving or be created in special sets.
The first such gun was produced for the Game Fair at Chatsworth in 1966 and was deeply engraved in gold and silver by Luis Vranken of Liege on the theme of Diana the Goddess of Hunting.
The first set was the Set of Five in different bore calibres – 12, 16, 20, 28 and .410 and produced in 1968.
Bruton Street, London
In 1982, the freeholder of the 13 Bruton Street site, the B.P Pension Fund, wished to redevelop the property and upon expiry of the lease Holland & Holland moved across the road to 33 Bruton Street, the same location as it remains today.
Holland & Holland made two significant acquisitions in 1985. Firstly, the famous taxidermist company, Roland Ward and secondly W & C Scott. The rationale behind the purchase of W & C Scott was to produce a new boxlock, the Cavalier, using the very latest CNC technology and the factory in Birmingham was ideal for this. Holland & Holland was the first London gunmaker to invest in the new CNC technology which was to become such an important part of gunmaking today.
African Hunter Series
As part of the Products of Excellence in 1987, Holland & Holland produced the first rifle of The African Hunter Series dedicated to the Victorian hunter, Sir Samuel Baker. The rifle was a .500/465 Nitro Express Holland & Holland ‘Royal’ double barrelled ejector rifle.
Other rifles in the series include:-
1988 – The Captain Frederick Courtney Selous
1990 – The W.D. M Bell
1993 – The John Taylor rifle
1994 – The James Sutherland
Having made their last .600 rifle in the 1980s, a customer, not wanting to be disappointed, asked Holland & Holland to produce a new and bigger cartridge. The .700 Nitro Express was developed in 1988 and the first .700 Nitro Express Royal Double Rifle was completed in November 1989.
For the enthusiast who enjoys both clay and game shooting, the ‘Sporting’ model over and under shotgun was introduced in 1993. Ease of maintenance, absolute reliability and the instinctive handling were the key objectives. As a result, Holland & Holland produced the detachable trigger lock.
Awarded the Royal Warrant from HRH The Prince of Wales for bespoke guns, shooting accessories and country clothing.
Round Bodied Shotgun & Rifle
In 2002 the Round Action Sidelock Shotgun and Double Rifle were introduced. A new side-by-side sidelock design that incorporated the same materials and craftsmanship used in the making of all guns and rifles but the styling of the sidelock was strikingly different to the ‘Royal’.
The elegantly rounded appearance belies a robust construction that is able to meet the rugged demands of game and big game shooting. This is achieved by combining modern technology and timeless craftsmanship with the experience and wisdom accumulated over the years.
After a break of 75 years Holland & Holland reintroduced The Paradox.
The Paradox was the invention of Lieutenant-Colonel George Vincent Fosbery VC. It was during the Umbeyla Campaign on the Northwest Frontier Fosbery discovered that a few inches of sharp rifling in a shotgun choke was sufficient to stabilise a slug but not enough to blow a shotgun pattern. He patented his idea in 1885 and realising the potential Harris and Henry Holland brought the rights and named it The Paradox.
Roosevelt Commemorative Rifle
To add to The African Hunter Series of Rifles in 2009, Holland & Holland chose to mark the 100th anniversary of the presentation of the 1909 rifle to Theodore Roosevelt by building a rifle of the same 500/450 calibre with similar specification.
Naturally, in 1909 Holland & Holland were proud to be chosen to equip President Roosevelt with a big-game rifle for his grand safari. Eighty years later we were pleased to have the same rifle back in our hands again to examine and prepare it for the film “In the Blood” in which one of the young members of the Roosevelt family is introduced to hunting and puts the rifle through its paces again.
.375 Centenary Rifles
To mark the one-hundred year anniversary of the famous cartridge, Holland & Holland built a series of twenty-five .375 Centenary rifles.
The twenty-five inscribed and numbered rifles were made to a classic configuration with three levels of features and traditional embellishment.
The Royal Gunmaker
Since the original edition was published in 2003, Donald Dallas continued to research on Holland & Holland and in 2014 we celebrated the publication of the newly revised edition of The ‘Royal’ Gunmaker. Lavishly illustrated, the book reveals the incredible history of the remarkable achievements of a company whose history is so very different from that of many other gunmakers.
The Holland & Holland Range Rover is launched, building upon the strengths of two iconic British brands to provide the perfect vehicle for Holland & Holland’s sporting clients.
The new car is able to combine the unrivalled off-road capability of the Range Rover with an extensive range of bespoke features. Based on the Range Rover Autobiography Black, the summit of the Land Rover model portfolio, the new model has been designed by Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations (SVO),