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Westwood Works 1903-2003

The Rifle Club

The Westwood Works Rifle Club was one of the oldest sections of the Baker Perkins Sports & Social Club having been established in 1909. In September 1914, with the outbreak of WW1, a letter was published in the local press from WP&P inviting young men to make free use of their miniature rifle range. No fewer than 88 local young men were instructed there, in addition to a great many employees at the Westwood Works. A large proportion of that number had enlisted before the end of the month.

It is understood that in around 1921, the "staff rifle club" had become almost inactive but things started to pick up when it was handed over to the Sports Club in December 1926. In these days, the club used to shoot in the old canteen - all the tables having to be taken down, moved, and then put back again after every shoot. Despite these difficulties, the club went from strength to strength competing in the Northants league and the Engineers league.

Prominent at this time were Rupert ("Rupe") Jones and Frank Willows, two of the best shots in the county - both winning the County Championship on many occasions. Frank Willows started the ladies section at this time and it became one of the best in the country.

The members of the Rifle Club at the opening of the new range in 1935. The lower picture shows Allan R. Baker firing the first shot.

An outdoor Rifle Range was provided on site at the Works, opened in May 1935 by Mr. Allan R. Baker and extended in September 1940, despite the outbreak of war. The "Black Shed" was built at the end of the Rifle range in 1947 to store the Club's equipment. We believe that this range was used for large-bore (.303) rifle shooting.

This photograph looks to have been taken on the outdoor (large-bore) rifle range, probably just before WW2. The gentleman on the extreme left is Fred Costin - winner of the 1945 medals shown above - whose army experiences in WW1 are described here and rifle shooting prowess in the Home Guard in WW2 is covered here)

Is anyone able to identify the weapon held by the lady in the centre of the front row? (.22 or .303??).

The small-bore rifle and pistol range behind the clubhouse in Alma Road was, we understand, built in 1936 on the site of the first bowling green. Such ranges had to conform to strict Army regulations and were subject to regular inspection.

Original Safety Certificate awarded at the opening of the .22 bore indoor range on 1st May 1936.
Certificate of affiliation to the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs (2/05/1936)

This range was extensively re-furbished in 1974.

Date?: WW Rifle Club with trophies 1940-45: Westwood Works Rifle Club 1940s?: The Ladies Rifle Club 1945: Medals won by F.Costin 1955: Rifle Shooting Section 1963: The Winners 1965: The Rifle Club
1965: Ivor Bennett and trophies 1966: David Newbould - Rifle Club Champion 1969: Charles Durrance passes on helpful hints 1973: Rifle Range refurbished 1975: Winners of the Inter-Departmental Rifle Competition 1977: Rifle Club - Old and new members compare notes 1977: Rifle Section Prizegiving
1979: Outdoor Rifle Shoot 1979: Outdoor Rifle Shoot 1979: Annual Competition at Barnack 1979: Chris Harris - Annual Competition winner Date?: John Firth's trophies Early 50's?: Trophy Winners

The photographs above indicate that the Section had its fair share of competitions and relevant trophies. Its 1979 Rule Book recorded these :



There was also an Overall Championship covering Rifle and Pistol.

When the section was wound up the various trophies were distributed to the remaining members. Two have come to hand

Engraved - Westwood Works Small Bore Rifle Club Interdepartmental League. Presented by J.S. Baker Esq.
Engraved - Westwood Works Rifle Club Golden Jubilee Competition 1960.

When the APV Baker Sports & Social Club closed in 1991, the APV Baker Rifle & Pistol Club moved to the City Youth Centre, Lincoln Road, Peterborough.

In the massacre which occurred at the Primary School in the Scottish town of Dunblane on 13 March 1996, sixteen children and one adult were killed by Thomas Watt Hamilton, before he committed suicide. In the highly charged atmosphere that followed this tragedy, restrictions were brought in on the use of guns that fundamentally changed the way in which the Pistol & Rifle Section - and similar Clubs throughout the country - operated. The then-current Conservative government introduced a ban on all cartridge ammunition handguns with the exception of .22 calibre single-shot weapons in England, Scotland and Wales. Following the 1997 General Election, the Labour government of Tony Blair introduced the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997, banning the remaining .22 cartridge handguns in England, Scotland and Wales, and leaving only muzzle-loading and historic handguns legal, as well as certain sporting handguns (e.g. "Long-Arms") that fall outside the Home Office Definition of a "Handgun" due to their dimensions. In July 1997, the use of all high calibre hand guns was prohibited and a ban was placed on the use by clubs of small calibre pistols from October 1997.

In 1997 the City Youth Centre Range closed and APV Rifle & Pistol Club ceased operations. Some members joined Perkins Sports Club and used their 25 yard indoor range. Then, in 2008, Perkins Sports Club closed and the remaining members joined the Soke Target Sports Club at the Cambridgeshire County outdoor range near Norman Cross.

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