Although fitted with a screw-on plate claiming: "Reliance British Made 5" Lathe" - and carrying the name of the maker or supplier - H.D.Murray Ltd. Ponders End Enfield Middx - this lathe is of unconfirmed origin. However, it does bear a striking resemblance to early Sheldon 10-inch lathes of the mid to late 1930s, especially details of the 3-speed leadscrew gearbox, an almost identical tailstock, the same apron and the use of a very Sheldon-like, vertical countershaft unit. However, although the main elements were conventional enough - a bed with V and flat ways, a very ordinary carriage assembly and a 3-speed gearbox on the end of the leadscrew - the headstock and countershaft was quite unlike any produced by the better-known UK makers and the most oddly-positioned push-pull backgear engagement control, at the front instead of at the back of the headstock, is like any Sheldon the writer has so far seen.
One assumption might be that H.D.Murray had a batch of lathes specially made for distribution in the UK, possibly during WW2, or had the basic form of a Sheldon copied by any one of a number of specialist firms such as Freddie Coles in North London, maker of "Granville" and other "brands", or McLaughlin Machinery who manufactured copies of Lorch precision bench lathes during WW2 that were sold with Stedall badges.
As the Reliance was fitted with V rather than flat belt drive, it's likely that the eight spindle speeds would have been in the region of 44, 60, 82, 113 in backgear and 230, 313, 424 and 585 r.p.m. in open drive. The drive to the leadscrew passed first through a spring-indented, tumble-reverse mechanism and then through a simple three-speed "semi quick-change" gearbox - the arrangement giving fine, medium and coarse feeds from each setting of the changewheels. If a full screwcutting gearbox was available, as on the Sheldon is unknown,- but unlikely. The apron, assuming the construction to have copied that on the Sheldon, would have been accurately doweled to the saddle and appears, on the example shown below, to be of the plain type with no power-driven sliding or surfacing feeds - the Sheldon being offered with that option via worm-and-wheel gearing within the apron and a key slot in the leadscrew. The tailstock, able to be set over for the turning of slight tapers, had a 2 Morse taper barrel.
The "Reliance" was not the only British lathe to be based on, or inspired by, an American design for, in addition to the well known Boxford copy of the South Bend 9-inch Workshop lathe, during the late 1940s and early 1950s an interesting development of the Clausing 100 Series Mk. 3 appeared, the Fortis, sold through Metropolitan Distribution Ltd. of Truro as both the Fortis and "Fortis Imperial". In addition, the Broadway Engineering Company of London N.W.9 marketed a version branded as the "Broadway". An explanation for the appearance of these various machines may lay in the fact that, during the decade following the end of WW2 in 1945, there was an acute shortage of smaller machine tools on the UK market with very long delivery times and high prices. Although both the Reliance and Forties looked, at a glance, very like their close cousins, both incorporated numerous small modifications - although the major castings appear to have been of decidedly inferior quality and do point to small-scale production by a minor foundry..