Smaller British-made Metal-turning Lathes for
Amateur and Light Professional Use
From the late years of the 1800s until the 1970s there were well over 200 British manufacturers of small metal-turning lathes of up to 5-inch centre height and, in addition, a number of companies either copying or re-branding machines to sell as their own. Some models were not offered to the public but intended for in-factory use - examples being Rolls Royce and Roper & Wreaks - while others were inexpensive, simple lathes of almost crude construction without backgear or screwcutting and intended for use by impecunious amateurs. A number were very expensive machines of the "Plain-turning Bench Precision" type intended for use by toolmakers and in production shops, these being manufactured to a very high standard and with prices to match. A handful were ornamental turning models - an expensive lathe usually aimed at wealthy gentleman and whose value has always been maintained thanks to ingenious and complex design, superb cosmetic finish, remarkable versatility - and a beautiful appearance. While illustrations of ornamental turning lathes can be hard to find, makers of the type included Birch, Bower, Britton, Buck, Evans, Fieldhouse, Gill, Goyen, Hines, Kennen, Lukin, Milnes, Muckle, Munro, Overton, Paterson, Sibley, Smith, and Wilson.
In addition to known or recognised manufacturers, many smaller makers failed to put any branding on their machine; some examples of these being amongst the mystery items seen here.
Amongst the better known and more commonly-found makes from pre-WW2 years (i.e. before 1939) were: Adept, Britannia, Challenger, Churchill, Drummond, ETA, EXE, Excell, Granville, Grayson, Holmes, Willimott Ideal, Mellor, Pools, Portass, Randa, Relm, Wade-CAV, Winfield and Zyto. Post war the number of makers expanded somewhat - though as financial conditions improved during the early 1950s and the need for inexpensive machines dried up, few of the newcomers (together with many of the established makers) failed to survived beyond the middle of that decade.
The following list of over 190 examples is thought to account for all makers who produced more than a handful of examples - together with what is thought to be almost all the "badge-engineered" types; should I have failed to include any - or you know others so far unlisted - please do let me know.