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The Conduit Street Robbery of 1932 and Gun Number 17930

One of Malcolm Lyell's more famous customers whilst managing the Westley Richards Conduit Street shop was Marshall Tito of Yugoslavia. Through his Ambassador in London he had ordered an 'Ovundo', over an under, detachable lock shotgun, which was stolen prior to delivery during a raid on the shop in 1932. The Sun Insurance company paid out to Westley Richards the sum of £120 in insurance money.

journal, gun books, gun records, westley richards serial numbers

In 1950 a detective from Scotland Yard visited the Conduit shop asking about 2 Westley Richards serial numbered guns. These were noted in the ledger as "Stolen in Raid on Conduit St. Nov 28 1932" and shown to the policeman. The next day the police brought the 2 guns in question back to the shop and returned them. Lyell subsequently obtained a cheque from the Bournbrook factory for £120 and sent it to the Sun Insurance Company. They in turn rang up and said a Director would be coming to see him the next day. He duly arrived and thanked Lyell profusely, complimenting his honesty. Fortunately he didn't ask what the value of the guns was, nearly 20years after they were stolen!

One of these guns has now surfaced twice during my time at Westley Richards. The first time many years ago, dealer Gary Downey called and asked me to look up the serial number. I did, sent him the journal entry above and said I would notify the police in USA to collect it. I let it ride awhile that they were stolen gods and we had still had title. I am sure it caused a moment of concern. Now once again this week, Lewis Drake has called and asked me to look up the number and received the same dismal news that he needed to send it back as it was stolen. He said I could have it for what he paid!

Ovundo, westley richards, 20g Ovundo, shotgunA Similar Gun to that stolen in the Conduit Street Raid. A 20g Westley Richards Ovundo

Picture00487Lewis Drake currently has this gun which is supposed to be a gem.


  • paul j.antonino on August 31, 2014 at 12:25 am

    simon ,,in that pic the ledger has a gun sent to ( bob smith boston ) that has been closed since the early 80,s it was a gun and fishing outfitter ,, it was the store i bought one of my first nice .22,s ,a savage anshutz ,,37 years ago ,,i spent many saturdays hanging around there ,, as far as the stolen guns go ,i think they belong to the insurance company if anyone as they basically bought them from you ,,then again im not a lawyer ,,,,paul

    • Simon Clode on August 31, 2014 at 10:45 am

      We have many entries for 'Bob Smith' in our ledgers. Mostly they are for Ovundo guns, I think he was possibly the largest buyer of this model we had. I haven't added them up but I do know he appears very regularly on the pages!

      We paid the Insurance Company back the £120 so they then became ours. It seems we didn't update the ledgers to say returned and then who sold to.


  • Mark Audino on August 31, 2014 at 1:11 am

    That's a real beauty. Of course, the gun is, but the story is also!

    • Simon Clode on August 31, 2014 at 10:47 am

      Thank you Mark. I had a look at Lewis's website yesterday and saw the gun in question, it too is a very nice gun and I wish I had spotted it earlier!!


  • Gregg on October 15, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Interesting story. Thank you sharing it.

    Two questions: Why were the police raiding your shop on Conduit St? Did one of the officers steal the guns?


    • Simon Clode on October 15, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      I think perhaps my writing has misled. The police visited the premises to see if we had any knowledge of the guns which they had recovered. The guns had been stolen years before in a raid or robbery.


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