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R B Rodda, Lyon & Lyon, Manton & Co Calcutta

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R B Rodda, Lyon & Lyon, Manton & Co Calcutta

Postby AlanDavid » Thu Jan 26, 2017 8:20 am

All the above famous names had a long established presents in India.

Is anyone aware of any records for these firms still being in existence, specifically, sales ledgers or registers. Many thanks.


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Re: R B Rodda, Lyon & Lyon, Manton & Co Calcutta

Postby Sourojit » Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:30 pm

Hello Alan!

All the 3 shops you mentioned closed down a few years before or after 1947.
If you want to know anything about these places you may visit the National Library in Kolkata or ask around at the old Gunshops in B.B.D. Bag Kolkata like N.C. Daw , East India Arms co. and Ashootosh Daw & Co. .
I do not think much records exists.

Why do you want to get their ledgers instead of the catalogues?

- Sourojit

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Re: R B Rodda, Lyon & Lyon, Manton & Co Calcutta

Postby AlanDavid » Sun Feb 12, 2017 7:54 am

I am interested in the period 1940/45. During this period the authorities in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada made efforts to obtain small arms from the general public and gun dealers. In the case of handguns these were sometimes sent to the UK where they were passed onto the Special Operations Executive. Rifles and shotguns were often given or loaned to the Home Guard or other civilian part time home defense type organizations. Some of the small arms were handed in or sold voluntarily sometimes they were compulsorily acquired.

In the UK many dealers records show rifles, shotguns and handguns being purchased by the Ministry of Supply, these guns ending up with the S.O.E.
So I would be interested to read any Indian dealer records that exist from that time, as I have had very little luck in finding out what happened to small arms in private ownership in India during WW2. I have gathered quite a bit of info on the other Commonwealth countries mentioned above.


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Re: R B Rodda, Lyon & Lyon, Manton & Co Calcutta

Postby goodboy_mentor » Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:31 am

Sourojit wrote:All the 3 shops you mentioned closed down a few years before or after 1947.
In early 1980s happened to be traveling to Calcutta, faintly recalling a shop with name of Manton & Co was open. It had an antique(looked like one from 1800s) iron cannon mounted on a large pair of wheels. Otherwise the shop appeared almost empty. The location of the shop was probably(unable to recall the exact location) on the south western side of B.B.D. Bag(Dalhousie) area.

If the author of this thread wants to study the sales ledgers or registers, he may try contacting the owners or the descendents of these gun shop owners. They might have kept these documents for nostalgic reasons as memorabilia. Yes owners of old gun shops in B.B.D. Bag Kolkata like N.C. Daw , East India Arms co. and Ashootosh Daw & Co. also might be able to shed some light about the owners of these gun shops or their own shops.

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Re: R B Rodda, Lyon & Lyon, Manton & Co Calcutta

Postby Sourojit » Sun Feb 12, 2017 3:31 pm

@good boy_mentor: I have very recently been to BBD Bag and explored the whole area on foot but I did not come upon any of the above mentioned shops.
@AlanDavid: I have never heard of private small arms being acquired by the armed forces during WWII in Kolkata.You may call up the owners of the old gun shops in Kolkata or pay them a visit.You will find their contacts in various posts in this forum.Just out of curiosity,are you writing a book or maybe a research paper about the above mentioned topic? It's interesting.

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Re: R B Rodda, Lyon & Lyon, Manton & Co Calcutta

Postby Shivaji.Dasgupta » Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:36 pm

Hi all,
This thread forced me to recall that Some where I have read that Jim Corbett used to buy one of his Rifles from Manton &Co. But really what happen to these legendary century old gun shops. I found someone others research on Manton and others which i am attaching here. all of them were Changed the ownership around 1947. After that due to Indian Gun laws and changed political environment forced them to scale down their business. Still they survived till 50s but after that they have changed their nature of business and with the time the Old name also eresed from the memory of the people as they are not related with their original trade.

Manton @Co. Calcutta.

The firm of Manton & Co was reportedly established in 1825 in Calcutta, the capital of India at the time. The firm later claimed to have been established as J Manton & Co in 1828, and this claim may be more accurate because it is likely that Frederick Manton was sent out to India in 1825 but the firm was established only in 1828. He may not have gone on his own, Charles Manton may have accompanied him; Joseph later recorded Charles as owing him £2500. Whatever the facts, the firm was established in India partly because by 1825 Joseph Manton's business was in serious financial difficulties (see Joseph Manton of London), and partly because the market in India was seen to be very large.
It is generally assumed that Frederick was sent to India by Joseph, but it is more than likely that John Manton was involved in the decision because he was able to give the necessary financial help, if not to his brother, then certainly to Frederick and Charles, who were his nephews. The firm of Manton & Co appears to have been a joint venture between John Manton and Joseph, or John Manton and his nephews, or even John Manton acting on his own as sole proprietor.

Establishing the business in Calcutta would have taken money and a stock of guns and equipment which Joseph, being virtually penniless, would have been unable to supply. The luxury gun market in India was large, but the majority of people wanted soundly made reliable guns, and by far the majority of these were Birmingham made. It would appear that John provided most of the funding and most of the stock. Not only did Manton & Co buy Birmingham guns so, some years after John Manton died in 1835, did John Manton & Sons, and many were exported to the USA and elsewhere. All Manton & Co's guns were engraved "London" including, towards the end of the century, some that had been made in Germany and Liege, Belgium.

It is stated in the authoritative book "The Manton Supplement" by W Keith Neal and D H L Back, that a letter was written by Manton & Co in about 1900 which said that "Frederick Manton was sent to India by his uncle [John] to start the firm in Calcutta. On the death of his uncle all the books connected with the firm of Joseph Manton were sent to India. These have been entirely destroyed by white ants. The most valuable book was the stock book, from which we could trace for whom any gun bearing the name of Joseph Manton was originally made, but even this has been destroyed. We now have in our posession the several weapons mentioned in the enclosed list. These were also sent to India when Mr Joseph Manton died. The pair of flint pistols were presented to the senior partner of the firm by an old constituent."

In 1828 John Augustus Manton went out to India to take over the firm, but whether he was sent by Joseph or John Manton or both, is not known. Frederick returned to England, Charles Manton may have returned at the same time. In 1833 Joseph wanted John Augustus to return from India to help him establish a new business in London. John Manton was very much opposed to the idea but John Augustus did return, and John Manton sent his son, Edward, out to replace him. It may be that at this date or in 1835 Edward was "given" Manton & Co, this seems certainly seems possible because in November 1834 in John Manton's will he stated "Whereas I have already provided for my daughter Mrs Stokes and my son Edward Manton I give devise and bequeath ... all my real and personal estate and Effects ... to my son George Henry Manton ... ". On the other hand, if Manton & Co in Calcutta was a joint venture between John Manton and Joseph, or John Manton and Joseph and his sons, it is possible that in 1833 Joseph and John Augustus sold their share in Manton & Co to John Manton and used the proceeds to finance the Holles Street firm.

In any event, Manton & Co were established at 10 Lall Bazaar, Calcutta, which was named the Pioneer Gun and Rifle Works.

In 1837 Edward Manton moved the firm to 63 Cossitolla Street.

In 1846 the firm was sold to William Robert Wallis, and Edward Manton returned to England. William Wallis may well have worked for the firm as assistant and or manager, he certainly appears to have been resident in Calcutta before he took over the firm.

In 1859 William bought the firm of Samuel Nock of 116 Jermyn Street, London. The purpose of this purchase was simply to establish a London agent and address for the firm.

In 1864 Samuel Nock ceased trading under its own name and was incorporated into Manton & Co. At this time W R Wallis (W R Wallis (I)) lived a shot distance down the road from the shop at 93 Cossitollah Street. Living with him was his son, also named W R Wallis (William (II)) who was described as his assistant. C T Wallis who, perhaps, was William's brother, lived at 63 Cossitollah Street.

By 1872 the firm had moved to 70 Bentinck Street and W R Wallis (I) had died or retired and returned to England. The firm was run by William (II) with A H Wallis (his brother?) acting as his assistant. The previous 26 years had been hugely successful but the next 50 were to be even better. The European population of India increased tremendously and Indian nobility continued to buy guns in quantity. From the mid 1880s the costs of manufacturing guns in England may have forced the closure of many small firms, but the larger manufacturers had few problems.

In 1874 William (II) was in England on leave. A H Wallis was running the business with W Holmes as his assistant. By this time the firm had established a shooting gallery (rifle range) in South Road, Entally.

In 1876 William (II)was back in Calcutta and A H Wallis became a partner; F L Wallis (a third brother?)was his assistant.

In 1877 the firm moved to 13 Old Court House Street, Dalhousie Square, they had additional premises at 1 Mangoe Lane which were used for workshops and storage. In 1878 William went back to England.

In 1880 the Wallis brothers moved to live at 20 British Indian Street, and the rifle range moved to Tiljullah, South Road, Entally. This was where the two younger Wallis brothers lived. In that year K Ferguson was taken on as an assistant.

In 1883 the partners were recorded as A H Wallis and F L Wallis, the assistants were A Farquhar and J C Rodrigues. The firm's private rifle range was recorded as 18 Tiljullah Road, Entally, and a branch had been opened in Simla. In the hot summer months Simla was the seat of Viceroy and headquarters of the government and the army. How long the firm maintained a shop in Simla is unknown, it may have stayed open until about 1919.

The Calcutta International Exhibition was held from 4 December 1883 to 10 March 1884 to promote the arts, crafts and industries of India. At this time the firm described themselves as gun, rifle and revolver manufacturers and importers of sporting equipment. They were agents for the Calcutta Gun Club.

In 1886 the firm's London agents were recorded for the first time, they were H Birdseye & Co of Gracechurch Street. In this year the firm became agents for W W Greener and representatives of Alexander Henry.

In 1889 the firm became agents for the Schultze Gunpowder Co, the Rhenish Westphalian Gunpowder Co, and C T Brock & Co (pyrotechnists) (firework manufacturers), they also became representatives for Westley Richards & Co Ltd. Their London agents were recorded as Alex Birdseye & Co of 5 St Benets Place, Gracechurch Street.

In 1890 the firm's rifle range moved to 18 Teeljallah Road.

In 1892 A H Wallis was recorded with the title of "Honourable" which derived from his election to the Bengal Legislative Council.

In 1894 the Wallis brothers were living at 1 Mangoe Lane.

In 1896 the firm took on an additional assistant, E D'Costa, in 1898 he left and was replaced by E Entwhistle.

In 1899 the rifle range moved to 88 Teeljullah Road and the assistants were recorded as A Farquhar, Frank H Harrison and J C Rodrigues. Frank Harrison had been apprenticed to P Webley & Sons.

In 1900 A H Wallis and Frank Harrison appear to have gone to England on leave. In 1901 A Farquhar was made a partner, and an additional assistant was taken on by the firm, M Echlin, but in 1902 he was replaced by G E Gold. In 1904 W Medland was employed as an assistant. In 1907 A H Wallis was on leave in London and the firm was run by F L Wallis. Frank Harrison was made a partner, Douglas E Whitehouse was recruited as an assistant. Herbert & Co of Bedford Street, Covent Garden were the firm's London agents.

In 1910 the assistants were recorded as J C Rodrigues, H A Philips, J Henderson, E C Taylor and A James Brown.

In 1911 A H Wallis was recorded back in Calcutta. A James Brown was recorded as a partner, and J D Campbell had joined the firm as an assistant. The following year saw the partners recorded as A H Wallis, F L Wallis, A James Brown and F H Harrison. A R Gibbs was recorded as an extra assistant.

In 1913 the firm's offices were recorded as being on the 1st floor of 1 Mangoe Lane, and the rifle range was recorded at 1 Tiljullah Road. A H Wallis was back in England, the assistants were H A Phillips, J D Campbell, J C Rodrigues and E C Taylor. In this year an extra assistant, W J A Martins had been taken on, but he was replaced the next year by C T Smith. Another important event which took place in 1913 was the opening of a branch in Kashmir Gate, Delhi; one report states that that that the branch was opened in 1935, and Manton's catalogue of 1926/7 suggests that the branch was opened in 1926, but neither report is correct.

In 1915 both the Wallis brothers appear to have been on leave and A W Danter was recorded as an assistant. In 1916 F R Danter and R M Lyons were employed by the firm as assistants. The other assistants were listed as H A Phillips, J D Campbell, Gibbs, and J C Rodrigues.

In 1917 the firm became agents for the Calcutta Royal Golf Club. In this year the firm recorded Frank Harrison and A James Brown as "Indian Partners" which may mean that they participated in the profits of the main shop in Calcutta and the branches in Simla and New Delhi, but not in the profits earned on buying goods to be sent to India.

In 1918 Alec Marsh was appointed manager of the Calcutta shop, but Frank Harrison and James Brown were still in India.

In 1919 it appears the Wallis brothers business to Frank Harrison and James Brown.

In 1920 J D Campbell was the manager of the Delhi shop, he was assisted by W A Jones.

The 1920s in the English gun trade were very difficult because there were few young men left alive to buy guns, raw materials were again in short supply, and labour costs and other problems culminated in the general strike of 1926. In 1929 the Wall Street Crash was followed by the Great Depression. In India the 1920s were good times, and it was only in the 1930s that businesses became concerned about the future. In the event, the depression very largely passed them by.

In 1921 M Donaldson was appointed manager of the Calcutta shop and S G Bearcock was appointed accountant.

In 1921 the firm developed their "Contractile" bullet. This bullet was intended to compete with Holland & Holland's "Paradox" bullet, Lyon & Lyon's "Lethal Ball", and R B Rodda's "Rotax" bullet. These bullets were designed mainly for use against dangerous soft-skinned game. The rifled choke of the Paradox threw slightly imperfect patterns when shot cartridges were used because of damage to shot which came into contact with the rifling. This caused "flyers". The Contractile bullets (as well as the Rotax and Lethal Ball) were made for use in smooth-bored shotguns with or without a small degree of choke, but no rifling of any kind. The contractile bullet had a muzzle velocity of about 1200 fps and a muzzle energy of 1420 ft lbs. It was spherical and made of lead but it had a hollow centre filled with a heavy liquid compound (probably containing mercury!). This lead sphere was waxed and then covered by a thin pierced lead outer shell. On firing, the wax melted and lubricated the barrel, and the shell deformed to a round-nosed slightly cylindrical shape. On impact, the movement of the compound in the sphere assisted in expansion of the bullet.

By about 1921 and in addition to the firms mentioned, Manton & Co were agents or representatives for James Purdey & Son, Holland & Holland, John Rigby, and E J Churchill. J D Campbell was the manager of the Delhi shop, he was assisted by W A Jones. The firm's London agents were Herber & Co.

In 1923 J D Campbell and M Donaldson were made partners in the firm; A Perks took over the management of the Delhi branch. only two assistants were recorded, A Livingstone and T Canham.

There is a report that from about 1923 to 1930 Joseph Beale worked for the firm, but he does not appear to have been recorded. He was previously with Cogswell & Harrison as a stocker, and after leaving India joined Hammond Brothers of Winchester.

In 1924 J D Campbell left the firm, retired or died. V Savage and J Livingstone joined T Canham as assistants.

In 1926 G M Howe joined the firm as an assistant, he had previously been employed by R B Rodda & Co.

In 1928 the partners in the firm were still James Brown and M Donaldson; the assistants were T Canham, V Savage and one new assistant, T Bouckley.

In 1931 the sole proprietor of the firm was James Brown. The assistants were still T Canham, V Savage and T Bouckley. By this time the firm's rifle range was at Mandalpara Road, Behala.

In 1933 the firm's shop was still at 13 Old Courthouse Street but the office was at 15-1 Old Courthouse Street. The workshops and storerooms were still at 1 Mangoe Lane. J V Beale was employed as an extra assistant. By 1934 the office had moved to 13-2 Old Courthouse Street.

In 1935 the assistants were listed as T Canham, T Bouckley, J Fisher, T Dobson and D Fox.

In 1937 James Brown appears to have died because the firm's partners were listed as Mrs G K Brown and M Donaldson, and D A Brown (son of James and G K Brown?) had joined as an assistant. Also listed as an assistant was D J Todd; he had worked as an assistant with R B Rodda and Co from 1912 to 1923 and in 1929 he was recorded working for Lyon & Lyon. When Lyon & Lyon was sold in 1934 to the owner of R B Rodda & Co, D J Todd moved to Rodda. He worked for Manton & Co from 1937 to 1943.

In 1946 everyone knew that India would shortly become an independent country, but they did not know what changes that would bring. In 1947 the firm was sold to Ramnath Bajora. The new owner described himself as a "Gun, Rifle, Revolver and Sword Manufacturer". Over the next few years he continued trading but the loss of European customers and new restrictions on imports and gun ownership affected trade badly. In about 1957 the firm described themselves as "Gun, Rifle, Revolver and Sword Manufacturers, Distributors of German made unlicensed Diana air guns".

There are reports that the business closed at some time after 1966, and that Ron Dufty bought the name, but there are other reports that a firm by the name of Manton & Co was trading up to about 2001.

Manton & Co held appointments to His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, His Excellency The Viceroy, etc.

Other Info
The firm sold cartridges under the names "Double Brass" (post 1910), "Deep Brass", "Standard", "Tiger Brand" (post 1927), "Red Smokeless" (post 1927), the "For India" (made both in Great Britain and in Bavaria in about 1910!) and the "Contractile".
Much detailed information on the Manton family and their guns is contained in the books "The Mantons" and "The Manton Supplement" by W Keith Neal and D H L Back.

Frederick Manton returned to England but almost immediately emigrated to Australia. He returned to England briefly in 1838. Back in Australia in 1840, he went into partnership with Thomas Walker in the firm of Manton & Walker in Melbourne. At this time he appears to have been fairly wealthy. By 1843 he had emigrated to South America, eventually returning to Sydney. He died in Sydney in 1863. His great-grandson lives in Canberra.

A Mr Manton, probably Henry, arrived in Australia in 1830. He was granted land at Cavan, near Yass, New South Wales, but eventually moved to Sydney. When his bank went into liquidation he became insolvent. It is believed he worked as a stocker until he died.

John Augustus Manton emigrated to Australia in 1838 after Joseph Manton & Son was sold to the Eggs. He went to Frederick's farm near Yass. He too became insolvent when his bank went into liquidation. His great-great-grandson lives in Sydney.

Charles Manton left England for Australia in January 1839 on the same boat as Frederick.

Frank Harrison was best friends with Reg Leeson of R B Rodda & Co. He retired in about 1926 lived at Burgess Hill near Brighton. When Reg Leeson was nearing retirement he lived in Brighton and he and Frank Harrison had a shoot on the Downs behind Brighton.


R B Rodda

The firm of R B Rodda claimed establishment in 1830. This would appear to have been when Richard Burrows Rodda became a partner in the firm of Brown & Cooper. However, the firm's roots appear to have been established in 1805, if not even earlier.

It seems that in 1846 Cooper left, retired or died, and firm changed its name to Brown & Rodda.

In 1847 Brown left, retired or died, and Richard Burrows Rodda became sole proprietor of the business. The firm's name was changed to R B Rodda & Co, and their address was recorded as 36 Piccadilly.

In about 1850 R B Rodda & Co opened their shop and office in Calcutta at 5 1/2 Tank Square (re-named Dalhousie Square in 1872).

In 1857, either just before or probably just after the Indian mutiny, R B Rodda and most of his extended family emigrated to the USA, but he died in that year (aged only 49). The firm, described then as gunmakers and cutlers, was sold to William Henry Taylor, brother of Rodda’s son-in-law.

In 1872 William Taylor left for England on leave and in his absence J Norton ran the business, his assistant was F Stalman.

In 1874 Taylor returned to England for the last time, and J Norton was made a partner; A Donaldson was employed as his assistant.

By 1877 J Norton was sole proprietor of the business which he described as "Gun, Rifle and Revolver Manufacturers, and Importers of Requisites for Sports and Athletic Games”.

In 1879 J Norton sold the business to the Brookes brothers, T W Brookes and C J Brookes, who owned Hamilton & Co.

In 1879 the firm's address was given as 7 & 8 Dalhousie Square. At that time C J Brookes was on leave in England, and F Stalman had been made a partner. The firm's London agents were Brookes Bros & Co of 91 Queen Victoria Street.

In 1881 F Stalman appears to have died or left the firm, and in London C J Brookes recruited Thomas Mirfin to be their manager in Calcutta. At the same time, C J Brookes recruited Frederick William Prike (b.1860 in Ipswich, Suffolk) as an assistant.

In 1885 F W Prike took over as manager and two new assistants joined the firm; J Lyon, who appears to be the James Lyon who, in 1896, established the firm of Lyon & Lyon in Calcutta, and W Inglis. James Lyon had formerly worked for James Purdey & Sons.

In 1896 F W Prike returned on leave to England where the Brookes brothers appear to have approved him taking the title "Managing Proprietor"; this probably means that he bought the business subject to a final or series of final payments. Whilst on leave he recruited Reginald Garrard Leeson (elder son of William Richard Leeson, gunmaker of Ashford, Kent) as an assistant. By this time the assistants, R Watson, J Lyon, G C O'Brien and W Inglis appear to have left the firm, but A W Hodges remained.

In 1903 F W Prike's son, Frederick Barton Prike (born in Calcutta, 3rd June 1885), returned to Calcutta. F B Prike had joined the firm in 1901 in Birmingham, and worked on the factory floor at 50 Stafford Street.

In 1904 F W Prike returned to England, he never returned to India, and became semi-retired at the age of 45. The Calcutta business was managed by Reginald Leeson with F B Prike and A W Hodges acting as assistants. In 1905 F W Prike was recorded as the firm's English agent, his address was given as Ipswich. In 1906 Reginald Leeson appears to have returned to England on leave and F B Prike ran the business.

In 1910 E S Burroughs left the firm, two new assistants joined, E E Sharpe and H H Clarke. Reginald Leeson moved to live temporarily at 2 Wellesley Place before moving to 5 Park Row, Park Road. F B Prike and his wife moved to live at 2 Vansittart Row, in time to see Halley's Comet through their bedroom window.

In 1914, Frederick William Prike's daughter, Edith Bullard Prike (born 1887 in Calcutta), who had remained in India, married Reginald Leeson. Edith and Reginald had a daughter, Esme who was born in 1915, their only child.

In 1919 Reginald Leeson was still listed as the manager of the firm, and F B Prike, D J Todd and H A Smith were listed as his assistants. In that year B Keenan and A Cashmore also joined the firm as assistants. At about this time, R H Howe (a friend of Frank Harrison, who was manager of Mantons in Calcutta and very possibly a relative of the Harrison’s of Cogswell & Harrison) also worked for the firm. Frank was a very good friend of Reginald Leeson and would appeared to have served his apprenticeship, like Reginald with P Webley & Son.

In 1919 F W Prike sold the business to his son, F B Prike and daughter, Edith Leeson. Edith was, of course, merely a sleeping partner but her husband, Reginald Leeson, became a partner as did A W Hodges.

In 1926 it would appear that Reginald Leeson retired, at this time Reginald and Edith left India to return to England. Reginald may have managed the Rodda factory in Birmingham on a part-time basis for a few years; Edith remained as a sleeping partner in the firm. Reginald was residing at 5 St. Marys Road, Harborne, Birmingham in December 1928.

In 1929 the partners were listed as F B Prike, A W Hodges and Edith B. Leeson.

In 1936 F B Prike and Edith finally finished paying F W Prike for the business. Edith then agreed to sell her share in the partnership to her brother, and he was recorded as sole proprietor of the business.

UK records show that Reginald Garrard Leeson died in the Eastbourne, England on 17th March 1936. His address at this time was a house name "Calcutta" in Decoy Drive, Eastbourne, East Sussex.

In 1946 everyone knew that India would shortly be independent, but they did not know what changes that would bring. F B Prike was 61 years old, so he took the opportunity to retire. He sold the company to Indian industrialists and retired to Durban, South Africa. The new owners continued trading but the loss of European customers and new restrictions on imports and gun ownership affected trade badly. The Birmingham factory was retained until 1952/3, but gun sales were swiftly overtaken by the marine and other engineering diversifications of the business.

Lyon and Lyon

Lyon & Lyon
Grand Hotel Arcade, 16 Chowringee Road, Calcutta India

Gunmaker & cycle agent, importers of gymkhana and sporting requisites. 1896-1940

James Lyon was born in 1859 in Lundie, Angus, Scotland. He was the son of George Lyon, a meal miller (b.1829 in Caputh, Perthshire), who in turn was the son of James Lyon, also a miller, and Mary Bisset Lyon. George was recorded in the 1861 census, but his wife (Rachel nee Dow) was not recorded; she appears to have died by that time although George was not described as a widower. George and Rachel's daughters were Georgina (b.1853 in Caputh, Perthshire) and Mary (b.1857 in Perth), and James was their only son.
George died on 13 December 1862, and the orphaned children went to live with great aunt, Louisa Bisset, who lived in Spitalfield, near Caputh. In the 1871 census James and Mary were recorded living in Caputh with Louisa Bisset, but Georgina was not recorded.

James reportedly moved to Inverness where he was a lodger living with George Batchen and his wife, Elizabeth McKenzie Batchen, and their family at 6 Innes Street (see below). He was either apprenticed to a gunmaker or simply worked for a gunmaker and if the latter, probably as a shopman. The gunmaker was probably D Gray & Co at 27 Union Street.

In about 1882 James appears to have moved to London where he worked for James Purdey. In 1885 he was recruited by F W Prike who had just taken over the management of R B Rodda & Co in Calcutta, India.

In 1890 one of George Batchen's daughters, Janet McKenzie Batchen, known as Netta (b.1863 in Knockbain, Ross-shire), went out to Calcutta where she married James on 29 September 1891. In 1895 James left R B Rodda & Co and in 1896 established his own business at Grand Hotel Arcade, 16 Chowringee Road. The firm was named Lyon & Lyon, possibly because there was another firm named Lyon & Co in India at the time. There is no record of there being any other person named Lyon being involved in the business. However, James described himself as the managing partner. His assistant was listed as G Phillips, and the firm's London agents were Colley & Co of 4 Lombard Court. James described the business as "Gun, Rifle and Revolver Manufacturers, and Importers of Gymkhana & Sporting Requisites".

In 1897 the firm were appointed agents for Joseph Lang & Sons of 10 Pall Mall, they were also agents for the Calcutta Cycle Co.

In 1899 the firm described themselves as gun and rifle manufacturers and opened a rifle range at Ballygunge. They stated that their agents were J Lyon & Co of 4 Lombard Court, these were the offices of Colley & Co.

In 1905 the partners were listed as James Lyon and G Phillips Shelton, J Broughton was listed as an assistant.

The firm was not listed again until 1920 when the proprietor was J Broughton and his assistants were W Mayer and Miss Mayer, this could imply that James had semi-retired but still a major share of the business. The firm was listed again in 1924.

In 1927 when his son, Louis, was married, James described himself as a retired Indian merchant, but in 1929 James Lyon and G Phillips Shelton were recorded as governing directors of the business, J Broughton and D J Todd were described as directors, but in later years were described as assistants (D J Todd had worked for R B Rodda & Co from 1911 to 1926). H J Connors, J Henderson and Miss S McDonald were described as assistants.

In 1931 James recorded as a retired gun manufacturer living at 31 Culduthel Road, Inverness. He had died by 1935 which was when Netta died.

In 1934 the firm was sold to F B Prike of R B Rodda & Co. At that time the employees of the firm were Miss B Ord, D J Todd, H J Connors and D F D Hazells. The business was relocated to Rodda's premises at 3 Wellesley Place.

After stocks of unsold guns were sold no further guns bearing the Lyon & Lyon name were made. In 1937 D J Todd left the firm to go to work for Manton & Co, he remained there until 1943. In 1939 S K Bannerjee was recruited as an assistant, but the firm appears to have ceased trading in 1940 the remaining staff becoming Rodda employees.

Most of the firm's guns were made in Birmingham by trade manufacturers, but some guns were imported from America and Europe.

At some time the firm were appointed gun makers to His Excellency the Viceroy and Governor-General, and they were agents for or representatives of (as were most of India's gunmakers) Westley Richards & Co Ltd, Cogswell & Harrison, W W Greener, Webley & Scott, Holland & Holland, W J Jeffery & Co, Wilkinson Sword Co and Winchester.

The firm invented their "Lethal Ball" shotgun bullet which was made for them by Kynoch. This bullet was introduced to compete with Rodda's "Rotax" bullet, Manton & Co's "Contractile" bullet, and Holland & Holland's "Paradox". These bullets were for use against dangerous soft-skinned game. The Lethal Ball could be used in cylinder or choked barrels or barrels with Paradox type rifling. It was spherical and made of two (later four) soft iron discs interlocking at right angles. These were placed in a mould into which the lead was poured. On impact, the lead pieces became detached from the iron frame. The bullets were not accurate over anything but very short range mainly because they were undersized (about 16 bore) in order to cope with choke and rifling (similar ammunition was issued to the Home Guard in the Second World War).

Added in 17 minutes 8 seconds:
R B Rodda & Co. name was also famous due to Rodda Arms heist case happened on 26th Aug 1914 when our brave freedom fighters were able to make away with 50 units of Mauser broom Handle Pistol with Shoulder Stock and 46000 rounds of 7.63 * 25 of Mauser Ammo. Actually an order fro H.H Dalai Lama.
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Re: R B Rodda, Lyon & Lyon, Manton & Co Calcutta

Postby SMJ » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:49 pm

Excellent information Shivaji Dasgupta (y) (y)

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Re: R B Rodda, Lyon & Lyon, Manton & Co Calcutta

Postby AlanDavid » Sun Feb 19, 2017 5:15 am

Thank you all for the above information and comments.

As I am not in a position to visit India and all of the retailers I am interested in have long since closed down, I think I am unlikely to find that their records still exist either with a family member of in an archive.

Thanks again for all the comments.


Alan David

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Re: R B Rodda, Lyon & Lyon, Manton & Co Calcutta

Postby Vikram » Sun Feb 19, 2017 3:57 pm

Shivaji Dasgupta,

Thank you for sharing these history titbits with us.


Added in 7 minutes 4 seconds:
AlanDavid wrote:All the above famous names had a long established presents in India.

Is anyone aware of any records for these firms still being in existence, specifically, sales ledgers or registers. Many thanks.

You could give a try to Internetgunclub. The owner is a descendent of one of these businesses you mentioned and probably one of the most knowledgeable persons on UK gunmaking history. You could try the Feedback form to contact him.



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Re: R B Rodda, Lyon & Lyon, Manton & Co Calcutta

Postby Rodda » Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:17 pm

My grandfather and great grandfather owned R B Rodda up to 1947. My grandfather bought Lyon & Lyon in 1934, they ceased trading in that year.

In 1998 I wrote to Mr Charan Pal Singh, president of the All India Arms Dealers Association, and to Anup Kumar Daw of Ashoo Tosh Daw & Co asking if they could help me to find the current owners of R B Rodda & Co. Both replied to me, Mr Daw saying that R B Rodda was acquired by Mr H L Somany and his family in 1947, they subsequently acquired Soma Textiles & Industries Ltd who formed a separate division for R B Rodda & Co who, in 1998 still held a licence but were no longer trading. The offices were at 2 Red Cross Place, Calcutta 700001. The textile mill was run by Sri Surendra Kumar Somani who shuttled between Calcutta and the mill at Rakhial Road, Ahmedabad 380 023. His telephone number was 248 7406.

I wrote to Mr Somany twice but received no reply. I found a company named Soma International (exporters of leather goods) at 2 Red Cross Place and telephoned them but they told me they had no connection with Soma Textiles and Industries and did not know them.

I would think the Lyon & Lyon records would be with the Rodda records and although I think the Somany family would want to keep them I would be very pleased to be able to scan them and make the records available to owners of Rodda guns around the world through my www.internetgunclub.com website.

I have catalogues for 1929 and 1930 and am looking for more.

I have no knowledge of any authority in any country attempting to get guns of any type or calibre for any branch of the armed forces from individuals or gun dealers.

I wonder if any member of the Somany family is a member of Indians for Guns, or if any other member knows any of the family. I think we may have one shot and only one shot to gain access to the records, let’s make it a good one!

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Re: R B Rodda, Lyon & Lyon, Manton & Co Calcutta

Postby mundaire » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:25 pm

Hi John,

A real pleasure to see you here! :) I did a quick look up based on the information provided by you and came up with the following information.

The website for Soma Textiles and Industries is http://www.somatextiles.com

Their addresses are listed as:

Registered Office
Soma Textiles & Industries Ltd.
2, Red Cross Place,
Kolkata – 700 001,
Phone: +91-33-22487406/07
Fax: +91-33-22487045

Corporate Office
6, Vaswani Mansion,
Dinshaw Wachha Road,
Backbay Reclamation,
Mumbai – 400 020. (INDIA).
Phone: +91-22-22836519 / 20, 2826 076 / 77
Fax: +91-22-22851173

Head Office & Works
Soma Textiles & Industries Ltd.
Rakhial Road,
Ahmedabad – 380 023.
Phone: +91-79-22743285-88
Fax: +91-79-22745653

Their management team names are at http://www.somatextiles.com/home.php/about/management

The Managing Director is listed as Mr. Arvind Somany, I couldn't locate him on LinkedIn, but it seems I do have a common connection with him on Facebook. Will call the gent and try and get you Mr. Arvind Somany's direct number. Hope that may prove useful.


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Re: R B Rodda, Lyon & Lyon, Manton & Co Calcutta

Postby Rodda » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:35 pm

Hi Mundaire, Thank you very much for the info, do you think I am the right person to contact him? Am I likely to find someone currently unemployed or retired who could scan the ledgers? John
Last edited by Rodda on Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: R B Rodda, Lyon & Lyon, Manton & Co Calcutta

Postby Shivaji.Dasgupta » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:43 am

WOW. a great initiative to revive the part of history. I am sure that your initiative will be fruitful. All the best. Reg

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Re: R B Rodda, Lyon & Lyon, Manton & Co Calcutta

Postby panzernain » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:11 pm

There is a video on youtube that covers the launch of a new rifle by Rugby & Co. The new rifle is a tribute to the original rifle used by Jim Corbett. The rifle rests with Rigby at London. In the video they are showing the ledgers of Rigby stating the Corbett's famed rifle being supplied to Manton & Co. before it was bought by Governor of United provinces and gifted to Jim Corbett. The video on Rigby rifle is still available on YouTube.

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