Although advertised in 1924 by J. Edwards & Co. of 51 Hardman Street, Manchester, as "All-British", the origins of the "Edwards" is uncertain for, in common with many tool merchants of the time who wished to disguise the origins of their stock, they used genuine makers' names in a straightforward way - but had the decency to enclose "adopted" names in quotation marks.
Of 3.25-inch centre height and 12 inches between centres, the lathe had its bed and cross slide ways formed from round bars, a simple, cheap and surprisingly effective way of making a small lathe - and one used by many makers over the years from the simple Emco SL and Drummond "Little Goliath" to more sophisticated and accurate machines like the Swiss Scintilla and multi-purpose Leinweiber. While the Edwards lacked a proper compound rest, the cross slide was arranged to swivel on its mounting boss (this being mounted between the bed rails and formed part of the carriage), the headstock was properly equipped and carried heavy but unguarded backgears for slow speeds at increased torque. Fitted with a 3-step pulley intended to take a round leather rope, the spindle ran in simple split plain bearings with a pair of back-to-back locking rings at the outboard end to adjust end float.
Just long enough to accommodate a proper compound reduction train to provide a slow carriage feed, the single-slot changewheel banjo carried its gears on studs of unusually large diameter. The carriage was driven along the bed by a leadscrew supported at both ends - even on the non-screwcutting version - but, unaccountably, this was positioned at the front of the bed bars instead of between them, the designer thus managing to introduce some unwanted leverage and flexibility into what would otherwise have been a tolerably rigid assembly. Fitted as standard at the headstock end was a clutch that allowed the changewheel drive to be instantly disconnected - a knurled ring being provided (in place of the more usual lever) to slide the dogs into engagement; at the tailstock end of the leadscrew a generously large diameter handwheel was provided that allowed the operator to maintain a steady feed by hand.
Of relatively light construction the No. 1 Morse taper tailstock had its barrel locked by that simple but hopelessly crude and ineffective means of a screw bearing down directly against it. Although the maker's publicity illustration shows the tailstock able to be set over on a base plate for the turning of slight tapers, all the surviving examples so far found lack this (seldom-used) facility.
Offered at a competitive £5 : 10s : 0d including carriage, by the time the screwcutting attachment (with machine-cut gears) had been added at £2 : 10 : 0d and a "treadle drive" assembly - almost certainly a "foot motor" to mount under the owners own bench - at a further £2 : 18 : 6d, the price no longer looked so attractive.
Can more than a handful of "Edwards" lathes have survived ? If you have one, the writer would be interested to hear from you..