Originally from an agricultural background from Derbyshire, the Eley brothers soon became well known for their dealings in London as silversmiths.
The earliest records of the Eley brothers manufacturing cartridges is in 1828, with them founding The Eley Cartridge Company and opening a factory on Old Bond Street. The two brothers, William and Charles, also appeared on advertisements promoting their cartridges. Claiming that their cartridges were “the greatest improvement ever produced in gunnery”.
The brothers were continuously thinking of new ideas to add to their range. Unfortunately, at the age of 47, William Eley was killed while experimenting with a new percussion cap. Upon the tragedy, William’s three sons took over running the company, Will Thomas, Charles and Henry .
William Thomas became the driving force that transformed the company to one of the largest ammunition producing factories in the world. In 1854, he took out the patent for combustible paper cartridges.
In 1870, there was a huge demand for ammunition from the military. To keep up with supply the company required new machinery. To fund this the Eley brothers decided to become a limited company in 1974. This is when their widely recognised logo was first used.
In 1898 and then again in 1900, Eley won awards for their cartridges at the Paris exhibitions. This included the Grand Prix award, which led the brothers to create a new cartridge especially named after the award.
After the first world war ended, driven game shooting was at an all time low. This was due to the lack of availability of birds. Therefore, clay trap shooting became ever more popular. In 1924, Eley launched the first dedicated trap shooting cartridge to match the new rise in demand.
The clay cartridge was just the beginning for Eley, in 1933 they were the first to create a plastic case shotgun cartridge. Then in 1959, Eley created the Kleena fibre based wad. It was uniquely developed to clean the shotgun barrels when fired.
In 1989, The Eley Cartridge Company changed its name to Eley Hawk. The name which we all know today.