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The First Small Colchester Lathes
Cira 1908 to 1915

Early Small Colchester Lathes Page 2  Colchester Home Page   

Early Colchester Bantam   Early Geared-head Colchester 

Colchester Master 1930s to 1950s

While early small Colchester lathes have survived in some numbers, the larger machines have not. Too big for the home workshop and worn out by war work, most have been scrapped. However, one treadle-powered 8-inch mascot - as used by the Royal Navel Air Service in WW1 - has survived in working order, complete with overhead line shafting.
With no maker's badge to confirm their identity (and often found with
a Brown Brothers of London badge), it was long thought that early small Colchester lathes were a version of the better-known little Drummond. It was only when the grandson of the buyer of an early example, who had preserved both lathe and the original receipt, came forward that that the writer was alerted to the truth. Several examples of the type have been discovered in recent years, including two in Australia - though some are sufficiently different to once again raise questions as to their origin. To confuse matters further, examples have also been found carrying "IXL" badges (a branding that seems to have been common between 1900 and 1940) though these may simply have been sold in batches for remarketing through a large machine-tool dealer
Although of very similar design and size, about 3.5" x 15" with a gap bed, backgeared and screwcutting, the early Colchester exhibits three significant differences: twin bolts - front and rear - holding down the front of the headstock; a foot at the tailstock end of the bed and the "inverted" form of the cross-slide ways - the latter arrangement being copied from the first production Drummond and later 5-inch models - but with longitudinal rather than transverse T-slots.
Interestingly, Colchester also copied the 1912 to 1921 Drummond with its overarm-braced headstock bearings - though the rest of the machine remained largely unaltered.
Founded in 1908, the Colchester company were eventually to become a major player in the manufacture of general-purpose workshop lathes - though it was not until the 1950s that a concerted export drive sealed its success internationally..


The first Colchester lathe - looking every inch like a Drummond from the same period.

A later version of the Colchester - again, this a close copy of the Drummond as made from 1912 to 1921 with an overarm to brace the headstock bearings

A third example of the machine, complete on the original treadle-drive stand, in the foyer of the Lithgow Small Arms factory west of Sydney NSW.
Screwed to the front of the bed above the screwcutting chart is the supplier's badge - Scruttons,  a once well-known supplier of engineering equipment in Australia.

Brown Brother advertisement showing a lathe identical to those on this page

The forked changewheel bracket was superior to the hooked type used on the Drummond and adopted by the latter company in later years

The front headstock bolt was replicated at the rear giving a stiffer assembly than the Drummond


The unusual cross slide and its feed-screw micrometer dial

Solidly-built carriage assembly showing the full bronze nut

A rear view showing the double bolt arrangement at the front of the swivelling headstock

A remarkably well-preserved and entirely original early Colchester. Found in the upstairs workshop of a plumbers in Bolton during 2011, it appears that the lathe had been there since new.


Fitted with a contemporary chuck (with dangerous, protruding pinion screws) and mounted on the original treadle stand this fine example lacks only a set of changewheels.

1911 Colchester Serial No. 824--largely original apart from the cross-feed screw micrometer dial


Early Small Colchester Lathes Page 2  Colchester Home Page   

Early Colchester Bantam   Early Geared-head Colchester 

Colchester Master 1930s to 1950s

The First Colchester Lathes
Cira 1908 to 1915 (Brown Brothers)

E-MAIL   Tony@lathes.co.uk
Home    Machine Tool Archive    Machine Tools For Sale & Wanted
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