Story From Lionel Swift

Vale, “George Creighton” - My Favourite Gun
By Lionel Swift

The first shotgun I fired was a neat 12g, 30” barrelled English shotgun which I borrowed from my uncle. It was a beautifully balanced light weight gun with a straight English stock. It was stamped “George Creighton Carlisle”. The butt plate was of horn – I thought it was Bakelite until I discovered years later, after worms had eaten holes in it – that Bakelite, or phenolic resin, hadn’t been invented until about 1927 by a German chemist. Of course that was well after the birth of this piece.

My ignorance knew no bounds then, and I presumed that this was the three-title name of the maker. Decades later, after uncle had given me the gun to keep, I learned during a visit to Carlisle, that “George” was probably an ironmonger-cum-gun-dealer in Carlisle, Scotland, who had good quality, low price guns made in Birmingham for his business. There had never apparently been a gun maker of that name in that town.

Originally I didn’t know it had 2½” chambers, as it was marked only “1 1/8 oz” - a marking I now know is synonymous with 2½”. As I knew that many 2¾” cartridges were 11/8” oz” loads, I put mostly 2¾” shells through it. But they were usually 1¼”oz loads and I used thousands of them!

Luckily for me, and for two of my sons who repeated the procedure for years through my ignorance, this regular “amateur proofing” didn’t damage the gun nor the shooters. Predictably it seemed to get rather loose and I had it re-jointed. At that time I learned what I should have known previously – it was a 2½” gun.

It’s very delicate straight grip did crack though, and I mended it with love and some flat ½” X ¼” black mild steel which I shaped to suit, in-letting it slightly into the grip, and before fitting, blueing it slightly by heating it cherry red and dipping it in oil.

After that the dear old thing was fed only a diet of 2½” and never again “re-proofed in the field”, until recently, when it caused its own demise. This retirement came suddenly at the Vintager’s April shoot at Frankston after it gave a hint of trouble with a hang-fire on the 2nd barrel at the Melbourne shoot in February.

At Frankston the ingrate of a thing double-discharged, giving my shoulder Hell, and my squad members as well as myself a brown-trousered moment!

I’ve decided that should be its last outing, although this “final proofing” revealed no loosening of the action, nor further cracking of the stock repair, but it seemed like a warning from God. (And as we all know, she’s black, and not to be ignored!)

I could take it apart once again to inspect its sears and internal hammers, or better still have Kevin Sharp perform a transplant of some kind, after the re-jointing (mentioned above) he did for it in the early1980’s when working with his father, Dick, in their workshop in Howey Pl, off Lt. Collins St Melbourne.

But I think I’ll just keep it in the gun cupboard, as another revival could be as undignified for old guns as it can be for old people.