Booth Brothers Lathe Photo Essay
Booth Brothers were known for their woodworking tools, treadle-powered grinders and similar devices - but whether some or all of these were manufactured in-house or re-badged from other makers, is not known. However, one of their lathes - a backgeared and screwcutting type (that would also have been available as a simple, plain-turning/wood-lathe type) is known to have been made by Goodwin Engineers of Leek, in Staffordshire. However, it is certain that Booth Brothers did manufacture their own machines, one example looking as though it was of a design current during the period 1860 to 1900. This was, for Ireland, an unusual machine - only two other lathe makers native to the country are known: Kennan & Sons, of Fishamble Street, Dublin - well known for their range of high-quality machines aimed at the amateur market including a number of superb ornamental-turning lathes - and Sheane Brothers in Wicklow, who produced a very ordinary, plain-turning type.
A simple lathe, devoid of both backgear and screwcutting - and of quite ordinary construction - the genuine Booth Brothers had a centre height of around 4 inches and a between-centres capacity of 20". Mounted on a well-made treadle stand consisting of cast-iron standards under the headstock and tailstock ends of the bed - and braced by diagonal rods at the rear - it carried, supported on metal extensions to the rear, a usual-for-the-time, full-length wooden tool tray. Capable only of wood turning in its basic form, when fitted with the maker's compound slide rest it became capable light-duty metal and turning - thought a lack of backgear would have limited it's performance on larger-diameter and harder materials. Supplied when new with three sizes of T-rest, it was complete with a 4-groove treadle flywheel that gave three high and one low speed. The retail price, circa 1900, was £12 : 0s 0d. - about five weeks' wages for a skilled engineering craftsman in the UK
If any reader has a Booth Brother lathe, any other machine by them or literature about the Company (or other Irish machine tools), the writer would be very interested to hear from you..