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* James Wilkinson continued making guns for the Board of Ordnance as well as the leading gentry of the day as the Wilkinson Sword record books reveal – but he did not possess the innovative spirit of his forebear.

Indeed it was his son Henry who took the company to even greater heights, extending the tradition of excellence into sword manufacture.

Wilkinson knew that the rival swords of the day lacked the strength required for battle, with many of his military customers dissatisfied with their weapons.

Working closely with his customers, he started to experiment with forging blades and performing tests in his bayonet workshops.

Each sword was individually numbered and recorded so that owners, and their weapons, could be traced.

As well as becoming Queen Victoria's appointed Sword and Gun Maker, Henry Wilkinson's list of customers grew rapidly to include HRH the Prince of Wales, the King of Naples, the King of Prussia, and numerous members of the House of Lords.

The machine called the Eprouvette, tested swords and bayonets, exceeding the stresses and strains expected in battle.

If the sword passed his rigorous test, it was given a proof mark and certificate, guaranteeing that he or his manager John Latham, had personally tested the weapon.

On his death, that same year, Nock passed on the business to his apprentice and son-in-law, James Wilkinson, who had worked for the last ten years as Nock’s foreman and general manager.

Henry Wilkinson benefited from a good education, excelling in the sciences, and counted among his friends the discoverer of electricity, Michael Faraday.

His interest in weaponry made him an international authority on arms.

By 1858, Henry's ill-health prevented him from being so involved in the company, and his manager, John Latham took on the business.

A sword and fencing expert himself, he took Henry Wilkinson's vision forward.

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