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British Industrial History

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Alfred Herbert

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Early Alfred Herbert treadle lathe at the Museum of Bath at Work.
1893. Capstan Lathes.
May 1901.
January 1902.
February 1902.
1903. Electric hexagon turret lathe.
February 1903.
January 1903.
January 1903.
1904. High-speed headstock.
February 1905.
September 1905.
1906. Nardin Machine.
1906. Nardin bevel gear shaper.
1906. Flather gear-cutting machine.
1909. Universal Cutter and Tool Grinder.
1909. Universal grinding machine.
1909. Universal grinding machine, back.
July 1910. Ball-Bearing Radial Drill.
July 1910.
December 1910. Norton Plain Grinders.
1910. Locomotive stay bolt lathe.
January 1912.
October 1912.
October 1912. Multi-Spindle.
October 1912. Turret Lathe.
October 1912. Three Spindle.
November 1912.
November 1912. Fox Multiple Drills.


January 1920.
February 1921. Dickson Patent File Holder.
1921. Ball-bearing Drills.
Dec 1921.
November 1923.
August 1926.
November 1926.
November 1926.
1928. Heavy duty vertical engine.
February 1929.
December 1929.
December 1929.
December 1929.
1930. Combination turret lathe.
1931. No.5A Capstan Lathe.
1931. Horizontal Miller
1931. Turning, Boring and Milling with Tungsten Carbide Tools.
1931. Details of New 33 inch Combination Turret Lathe.
1933. Kneeless Plain Milling Machine.
1933. Small Capstan Lathe and Vertical Milling Machine.
1933.New Heavy Duty Auto-Lathe.
1934. Heavy duty combination turret lathe.
1934. Combination turret lathe.
Dec 1939.
Sept 1940.
1942. Heavy duty combination turret lathe.
1942. Three operation lathe.
1942. Simplimil milling machine.
1943 April.
November 1943
June 1944.
June 1944
November 1944.
1944. Lubricar for machine tool servicing.
1945. Copper Stay Lathe.
1946. Vertical Milling Machine.
1946. Capstan Lathe with Preoptive Headstock.
1946. Optical Profile Grinding Machine.
November 1947.
January 1948.
March 1948.
May 1948.
July 1948.
August 1948.
1948. 'Preoptive' Gearbox.
1948. Mill.
May 1950.
November 1950.
January 1952.
March 1952.
April 1952.
May 1952.
July 1952.
July 1952.
August 1952.
November 1952.
November 1954.
September 1962.
Exhibit at Coventry Museum.
Herbert vertical drilling machine.

of Coventry, Warwickshire. Telephone: 8781. Telegraphic Address: "Lathe, Coventry". (1937)

Alfred Herbert Limited were machine tool makers in Coventry founded by Alfred Herbert.

1887 Herbert became the manager of Coles and Matthews.

1888 The firm was offered to Herbert for the price of £2,375. He immediately entered into partnership with a former school friend and fellow apprentice, William Sammons Hubbard, under the name of Herbert and Hubbard, making boilers and general engineering equipment. The fathers of each of the two men provided their sons with a capital of £2,000 each. Initially, production concentrated on ploughing tackle and steam rollers but moved very swiftly to making machine tools and tubing directed at the cycle trade.

1889 Pill picking and sorting machine. [1]

By 1894 Herbert had bought out Hubbard, who left the business, which was turned into a limited liability company Alfred Herbert. Alfred became the managing Director while his older brother William Henry Herbert was Chairman of the company.

1894 Became private company.

1894 Catalogue of Horizontal and Vertical Milling Machines, Universal Cutter Grinder, Sensitive Drills, Capstan Lathes for general and repetition work, Universal Grinding Machine, Special Machinery for Cycle manufacturers.

1897 Oscar Harmer (d.1939) joined the company. He was a charismatic character, an Irish-American who originally came to England to work for the Capewell Horse-Nail Co in Millwall, London. Later he joined Babcock and Wilcox to lay out and equip a new works in Renfrew. Harmer had gained some experience in designing and manufacturing machine tools, and he was to play a very important part in the development of the company.[2]

1897 Agents for tools of Davis and Egan Co of USA[3]

1900 Taper Screwing attachment. Article and description in 'The Engineer'. [4]

1910 Advertised Norton plain grinders

1912 Directory. As machine tool makers of Butts and Ironfounders of Canal Road, Edgwick. [5]

1914 Listed as machine tool makers. Specialities: hexagon turret lathes, capstan lathes, automatic turning machines, automatic screw machines, milling machines, ball bearing drilling machines etc. Employees 2,000. [6]

1919 Labour saving machine tools. [7]

See Alfred Herbert: 1920

1920 February. Issued catalogue entitled 'The Turret Lathe and its Work'. [8]

1920 June. Capstan Lathe with Rotating Multiple Stops. Photo and article. [9]

1920 June. Small surface grinding machine. [10]

1920 September. Exhibited at the Machine Tool and Engineering Exhibition at Olympia with ten stands of machinery, tools and other equipment. [11]

1920 Alfred Organisations throughout the world were appointed sole distributors for the Capstan line of indicator dial gauges manufactured by the Capstan Gauge Co.[12]

1922 The company entered into an exclusive agency arrangement for the countries of Japan, Manchuria, Korea and Formosa, for the sale of power presses made by John Hands and Sons of Birmingham. Alfred Herbert also entered into an arrangement with Carrick Wedderspoon and Co of Christchurch, New Zealand, whereby the firm acted as Messrs Herbert's sole selling agents for New Zealand. This arrangement covered all machines, small tools and accessories.[13]

1922 the firm opened their own office in Buenos Aires at 25, de Mayo, No 267 in the charge of Mr Colin York.[14]

1922 Opened their gear-cutting department with Mr Francis W. Shaw in charge.[15]

1922 They were appointed sole selling agent in Canada for the mining machinery, air compressors, rock drills and pneumatic tools made by Holman Brothers of Camborne, Cornwall and sole selling agent in the Argentine for the horizontal surfacing, boring, milling and drilling machines made by Messrs. H. W. Kearns and Co of Broadheath, Manchester.[16]

1923 The Manchester branch office was transferred to Wrendal House, 2 Whitworth-street West, from 30, Cross-street.[17]

1923 They appointed the Wellman, Smith, Owen Engineering Corporation of 36-38, Kingsway, London W.C.2 sole conncessionnaire for the United Kingdom for the sale of the "Atritor" fuel drying and pulverising machine for use with metallurgical furnaces.[18]

1924 Whereas for many years it acted in conjunction with another company as joint selling agents in Great Britain and Ireland for Norton grinding wheels, arrangements had in 1924 been made by which it was to in future act as solo selling agent for all Norton wheels in the territory mentioned.[19]

1927 See Aberconway for information on the company and its history.

1927 The Edgwick works developed a coal-pulverizing machine called the "Atritor" for supplying powdered coal direct into the combustion chamber of a furnace. These were supplied all over the world for firing cement kilns, steam-raising in water-tube boilers and for the firing of furnaces for many different processes.

1927 The "A.H." monogram used on the company products for several years became registered as a trademark.[20]

1937 British Industries Fair Advert for Pulverised Fuel for Furnace Firing. The Atritor Coal-Pulverising and Distributing System applied to the firing of several small furnaces for the metallurgical industries. A similar measure of control to gas or oil firing is demonstrated. (Engineering/Metals/Quarry, Roads and Mining/Transport Section - Stand No. D.409). [21]

1937 Machine tool makers. [22]

1944 Became public company.

c.1960 Acquired Holbrook Machine Tool Co

1961 Tool makers, mechanical engineers, importers and factors of machine tools, components and small tools. 4,700 employees. [23]

1966 Alfred Herbert merged in a joint-venture with Churchill Machine Tool Co and became part of Herbert-BSA Ltd

1967 Ingersoll Milling Machine Co of USA acquire 49 percent of the equity; formed Herbert-Ingersoll as a separate company[24]

1968 By this date they also owned Churchill Machine Tool Co[25]

By the early 1970's the workforce was around 12,000 nationally, but redundancies had begun.

1972 Herbert-BSA received support of over £1 million for projects on various machine tools from a government programme for the machine tool industry [26]

1980 The National Enterprise Board refused further funding. The high technology systems subsidiary was sold to GEC[27]

1980 Went into voluntary liquidation[28]

1980 Tooling Investments took over the bulk of the firm.[29]

Debts of some 17 million pounds led to the firm's collapse.

1982 Went into receivership. Later in the year the assets were bought by Tube Investments.[30]

1983 Sale by Auction in October 1983 of the entire stock. At the time of the auction the workforce numbered 400, approximately the same as when Alfred Herbert declared it a private limited company in 1894.

1983 Name changed to TI Herbert-Churchill Ltd.

1985 Name changed to TI Machine Tools Ltd.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1889/05/24 p446
  2. [1] THE RISE AND FALL OF COVENTRY’S MACHINE TOOL INDUSTRY - Profiles of four Companies whose products, in the 20th century, made the City famous throughout the world. Based on talks given to the Warwickshire Industrial Archaeology Society by Arthur Astrop: Warwickshire Industrial Archaeology Society, October 2000
  3. The Engineer 1897/09/03
  4. The Engineer of 23rd November 1900 p516
  5. Spennell's Annual Directory of Coventry and District, 1912-13 p793
  6. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  7. Mechanical World Year Book 1919. Published by Emmott and Co of Manchester. Advert p97
  8. The Engineer of 27th Feb 1920 p234
  9. The Engineer of 18th June 1920 p632
  10. The Engineer of 25th June 1920 p657
  11. The Engineer of 17th September 1920 p269
  12. The Engineer 1920/06/11, p 614.
  13. The Engineer 1922/05/05
  14. The Engineer 1922/05/19
  15. The Engineer 1922/06/02
  16. The Engineer 1922/07/14.
  17. The Engineer 1923/05/04
  18. The Engineer 1923/05/18
  19. The Engineer 1924/12/05
  20. The Engineer 1927/04/29
  21. 1937 British Industries Fair Advert p630; and p374
  22. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  23. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  24. The Times, Jun 23, 1969
  25. The Engineer of 19th January 1968 p135
  26. The Times, Mar 15, 1972
  27. The Times, Jul 03, 1980
  28. The Times, Oct 25, 1980
  29. The Engineer 1981/04/23 and 1981/04/30
  30. Wikipedia
  • Machine Tools by James Weir French in 2 vols. Published 1911 by Gresham
  • [2] Coventry Historians