The Purdey family were experimenting with over-and-under designs as far back as 1871, when we created a 16-bore over-and-under percussion rifle for Aga Ali Shah. Although the first Purdey breech-loading action was built in 1923, these were overly reinforced by modern standards, possibly with an eye to the live pigeon market.
It wasn’t until 1948, and the purchase of James Woodward & Sons, that the modern Purdey over-and-under came into being. Patented in 1913, the Woodward design was famous for being lightweight and exceptionally robust, and the perfect basis for Purdey to refine.
Two Purdey workers, Ernest and Harry Lawrence, worked to modify the Woodward ejector mechanism, redesigning the firing-pins and implementing other improvements which created both the look and design which is at the heart of every Purdey over-and-under built to this day.