Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Fox of Derby

From Graces Guide
2. Fox lathe at Wortley Top Forge, showing the layshaft and its reversing bevel gear drive
1830 model Fox lathe at the Musee des Arts et Metiers
c.1830 model Fox screwing (threading) machine at the Musee des Arts et Metiers
1833 model planing machine at the Musee des Arts et Metiers
1842 planer at Naes Iron Works museum. Photos kindly provided by Stan Reed
1842 planer at Naes Iron Works museum
Lathe in store in Birmingham
Dismantled planing machine in store in the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery Collections Centre. See Fox of Derby: Planing Machine at Birmingham. Photo shows the column/cross slide assembly as it would appear on the assembled machine

City Road Works, Derby.

Machine tool and textile machinery makers, in business from 1787 to 1866. Started by James Fox, Senior and continued by his sons James Fox and Joseph Fox and then by Joseph's sons.

James Fox, Sr. deserves to be better-known as one of the foremost pioneering designers and makers of machine tools in the early 19th century. His advanced machines were widely respected in the UK and Europe, but they attracted little attention from the technical press at home.


1787 Advertisement: 'James Fox, returns his sincere thanks to all those gentlemen whom he has had the honour to serve; and begs leave to acquaint them and the public that he is settled at Tatenhill Mill, near Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, where he makes all Kinds of Engine, Oval, and Common Lathes of all Sorts and Prices. Screw Stocks, Taps and Plates. Presses and Press Screws of any Sort or Size. Clock and Watch Engines. Fluting Engines for Cotton Rollers etc. Smoke and Dangle Jacks of all Kinds. Rolls for Metals of all Sizes. Glaziers Vices made to any Size and repaired. Turning and Edge Tools of all Kinds. Oval Dies made to any size, and turned to any Pattern. Machinery of any Kind, or Models, made from specifications at the shortest Notice. He also performs every Branch of Turning, on Wood, Ivory, and the different kinds of Metal, in Engine, Oval or Common Lathes.' [1]

1792 Advert for a regulator for water mills, particularly cotton mills: 'T. Swanswick with the assistance of J. Fox of Derby, Oval and Engine-lathe maker, executes these Machines and adapts them to Mills at a reasonable expense'. [2]

1795 Advert for two or three journeyman smiths to work on patent machinery [3]

1806: Simon Goodrich (of the Navy Board) wrote to Samuel Bentham (Admiralty) about machinery being exported to Russia. Some of the machinery was supplied by Fox of Derby, namely:
'10 HP condensing steam engine £480, boiler £96; large boring, turning and screw cutting lathe £296; a machine for cutting and dividing wheels from 6 in. to 9 or 10 ft. diameter, for £208; a slide lathe for cutting screws, for £86, and an extra boiler for the steam engine for £68 All, I have no doubt, very good machines, particularly the large lathe, and very cheap. I conceive that he has made altogether an excellent choice and a bargain.' The Paper says that an engine and boiler and heavy ironworking machinery were also ordered from Murray, Wood and Co. for the same destination.[4]. Special permission was required from the Treasury and the Privy Council for a man from Fox and a man from Fenton Murray and Wood to gom out to Russia to erect the machinery[5]

1813 Advert 'Wanted immediately, Two Forgers; good hands will meet with constant employ, and wages according to merit, by applying to James Fox, Engineer.' [6]

1813 The encyclopedia 'Pantalogia' included drawings of a lathe made by Fox [7]. It was a simple hand turning lathe, the only novel aspect being the bed, whose main ways were two bars whose upper section was triangular, while the lower section was rectangular.

1814 Fox is said to have made one of the first planing machines, according to a former employee, Samuel Hall, who gave a description of it to Samuel Smiles.

1814 An advert for the sale of a textile mill at Robin Hood Yard, Nottingham, included a 4 HP steam engine made by Fox of Derby[8]

1827 An advert for the sale of a corn mill at Borrowash included an 8 HP steam engine made by Fox of Derby.[9]

1828 Listed under Engineers as 'Fox, James, (and steam engine maker and steam apparatus of all kind), Chester road' [10]

1829 Listed as 'Fox, James and son, engineers, manufacturers of lathes and steam engine apparatus of all kinds, Chester road' and as 'Fox, Joseph. Engineer, Cherry Street' [11]

1829 Price list shows James Fox offering planing machines with bed lengths from 5 to 40 ft (capable of planing lengths from 3 ft to 20 ft 4"), and 'self traversing slide lathes' with bed lengths from 9 to 24 ft, able to turn up to 18 ft 6" diameter [12]

c.1830 Supplied several machine tools to the Bialogon Machine Works in Poland. They may have been ordered as early as 1827. More information below.

1833 Advertisement for the sale of a condensing steam engine, 'nearly 3-horse power, made by Mr. Fox of Derby; it may be seen by applying at the hospital.' (General Hospital, near Nottingham).[13]

1835 A sale of the effects of the late Charles Hurt of Wirksworth included 'A Mahogany LATHE, by Fox, Derby, with a full assortment of Tools for Turning Ivory, Brass, and Wood'[14]

1836 Supplied a 12 ft long lathe and a planer for machining work up to 7 - 8 ft long to Carl Theodor Vonpier.[15]

1838 The Cromford & High Peak Railway Co ordered a lathe from Fox on 18 September. They wrote to Messrs Fox on 14 Jan compaining about the delay in supplying the lathe.[16]

1851 Employing 20 men [17]

1852 Listed as 'Fox, James and Joseph, Ironfounders and fitters, city road', Derby [18]

1857 '...the Partnership heretofore existing between us the undersigned, Joseph Fox the elder and James Fox the elder, as Engineers and Tool takers, carrying on business at No. 55, Chester-road, in Derby, . . . on the 21st day of June, 1857, dissolved by mutual consent; and the said business was discontinued so far as we the undersigned, Joseph Fox the elder and James Fox the elder, are interested or concerned; the business of Engineers and Tool Makers, will henceforth be carried on upon the same premises; by us the undersigned, Joseph Fox the younger and James Fox the younger, sons of the said Joseph Fox the elder, under the firm or style of Fox, Brothers....' [19]

1858 Transfer of the Union Foundry from William Peach and Son to Fox Brothers, City Road [20] 'Messrs. Fox, Brothers. of the City Road, Derby, respectfully apprise their Friends and the Trade generally, that in addition to the Trades of Engineers and Tool- Makers hitherto carried on by them, they have commenced Business at the Works so well-known as the "UNION FOUNDRY," and trust by energy and attention to Business to receive in their new undertaking that support which they will use every effort to deserve.'[21]

1859 Legal case against S. Barton and Sons of Sissal Lane, Derby, who had supplied two drilling machines, which were rejected as defective by Fox Bros. Samuel Barton Senior was called as a witness. He had been employed by the Fox for 42 years, until December 1858, and he agreed that 'they were not what he expected, and he could only account for it by his son being unwell.' [22]

1861 Employing 155 men [23]

1862 London Exhibition

1865 Death of Joseph Fox, Junior

MESSRS. NEWBOLD and OLIVER beg to announce that they are favoured by instructions from Messrs. Fox, BROTHERS (the eminent Engineers and Tool Makers, of Chester-road, Derby, in consequence of the death of one of the firm), to SELL by AUCTION, on the Premises, on THURSDAY, the 14th day of June, 1866, a portion of their MANUFACTURED STOCK, including the following valuable and highly-finished ENGINEERS' TOOLS AND MACHINES, viz.:- A large and powerful self-acting double planing machine, to plane 24 feet long both ways, and 5 feet 3 inches wide by 4 feet high, with bed 46 feet long, four tool-holders, self-acting, in vertical, angular, and horizontal motions, moving table, and improved powerful gearing; total weight of the machine, 44 tons.
Two strong and powerful surfacing, or axle-box lathes, each fitted with double-power geared headstocks, 4 feet face-plates, 4 wrought-iron drivers, self-acting compound slide-rest, chucks to admit an article 5 feet diameter, overhead driving-gear, &c.; weight, 3½ tons each.
A strong and powerful self-acting lathe, for turning and boring simultaneously railway wheels up to 4 feet diameter, with self-acting compound slide-rest and boring apparatus, 12 feet bed, and overhead driving-gear, &c; weight, 6 tons 12 cwt.
A strong and powerful self-acting slotting and shaping machine, with variable stroke to 13 ins., longitudinal and transverse slides, revolving worm-table to admit 6 feet 3 inches diameter, overhead driving-gear, &c.; weight, 8 tons.
A strong and powerful self-acting traversing lathe, of 13¼ centres, 20 feet bed, compound slide-rest, centre head for conical turning, and overhead gear.
Two small size self-acting planing machines, with improved gearing, and vertical, horizontal, and angular motions, to plane 5 feet 6 inches long by 1 foot 10 inches by 1 foot 9 inches.
A strong double-speed hand jobbing lathe, 10 in. centres, 13 feet bed, two-face plates, compound slide, and hand-rests, overhead driving-apparatus.
A first-class amateur turning lathe, with a great variety of tools, including drills, chasers, turning in tools,. &c. &c., and fitted with drawers, and everything complete; belonging the lathe is a grind-stone and frame, with traddle motion complete.
Also, a lot of wrought-iron screws, of different lengths and diameters, &c. &c.
The whole of the above Tools are perfectly new, and are fitted up, both as regards material and workmanship, in the very best manner of this well-known and justly celebrated firm. All the necessary parts are case hardened.
Fuller particulars will be given in catalogues, to be had on application to the Works, Chester-road; or to the Auctioneers, Wardwick, Derby.' [24]

1866 November. Notice regarding claims against Fox Brothers [25]

1867 May. Notice regarding the sale of the Union Foundry occupied by Fox Brothers [26]

1869 December. Trustees of Fox Brothers advertise the freehold plant and fixed machinery for sale at the City Engineering Works, Derby [27]

1870 October. Under bankruptcy act a deed made by James Fox, Iron Founder, Engineer, Tool Maker and General Machinist and Sarah Fox, administrators of Joseph Fox, late of Derby, Iron Founder etc. and trading as Fox Brothers [28]

1870 Sale of plant, stock, patterns, etc., reported by The Engineer, with a large list of items and their sale prices[29]. The author touched on the quality of the firm's products, produced over half a century, and regretted the low prices obtained in the sale.

Union Iron Foundry, City Road. Originally established as Falconer and Peach in 1822, the site was located upstream from the Fox factory to the south. In 1844 the partnership was dissolved with Peach retaining the Union Foundry until 1858, when the Fox brothers bought him out. Fox lace machinery became celebrated, and it was supplied largely to the neighbouring town of Nottingham. Fox lathes also had a high reputation, and machinery was exported to France, Russia and Mauritus. In 1868 Alfred Searle Haslam bought the Union Foundry from the Fox estate and set up the Haslam Foundry and Engineering Company [30]

The early 19th century machine tools produced by Fox, together with those of Richard Roberts and Henry Maudslay, represent dramatic advances in engineering production technology. The importance of Fox's machines was once recognised by the Science Museums in London and Birmingham, but sadly their machines have disappeared from display. A lathe and planing machine attributed to Fox are in store in the Birmingham museums collection centre. Fortunately, two machines can still be seen on open display, one at Wortley Top Forge, and a larger one in Poland. A contemporary model of a large Fox lathe is (or was) displayed in Paris. More information below.

Fox of Derby 1829 [31]

'I heard much from all the manufacturers of Derby, of the mechanical ingenuity of Mr. James Fox, of Chester Road, on the banks of the Derwent. I paid him a visit, and beheld his powerful iron lathes, twenty-four feet long; used by machine makers for planing iron. Here I saw iron cut in grooves or squared with great simplicity, by duly adjusting the velocity so as to generate no heat, for a velocity, which generates heat, destroys the tool. These lathes, Mr. Fox makes for machinists in all parts of the kingdom, and gets from £200 to £700 for them. The castings are made at Morley Park ; and I was sorry to learn that they are now delivered at £7. a ton instead of £30. the usual and legitimate price. In truth, the depression of the iron trade is as great or greater than that of the other staples of the kingdom.

'The number of cotton frames employed by the above, is from 3,000 to 4,000 dispersed over the town and country ; and the number of silk frames is about 1,000. The average earnings of the cotton hands are from 7s. to 10s. per week, but many frames are worked by young persons both male and female. The silk hands earn about 12s. or 15s.

Information from Continental Sources

The best descriptive information and drawings come from French and German sources.

Three drawings of a Fox lathe were produced by W. Scheinlein in 1826, although one source dates the lathe at c.1814 [32]. Limited information here, and high resolution drawings here, here, and here. It has many of the typical features of Fox lathes, including the power-driven feed for the carriage, but it lacks a powered headstock, but there is a crowned pulley for a belt on the inboard end of the spindle.

The Musée des Arts et Métiers (in Paris) hold original drawings of five of Fox's lathes produced by César-Nicolas-Louis Leblanc (1787-1835). Dates unknown, but before 1835. There are also drawings of another lathe by an unknown draughtsman. They are available online, but only at low resolution. A batch of 24 drawings for one lathe include notes which state that it belonged to M. Pihet of Paris, and it may well be the lathe he ordered in 1826. See here.11 drawings of a large lathe here.

1826 Peter Christian Wilhelm Beuth and his friend Karl Friedrich Schinkel travelled to England. Schinkel wrote in his diary on Friday, June 23rd: "Besichtigung der Werkstatt von Mister Fox schöne Drehbänke, die berühmten Hobelmaschinen, Bohrmaschinen pp. Beuth macht viele Bestellungen." ("Visit the workshop of Mister Fox beautiful lathes, the famous planers, drills pp Beuth makes many orders.")[33]

1832 A German journal described two Fox lathes, one being a large 'duplex' lathe which two faceplates, one of which could be used to machine a wheel of 18 feet diameter. Both lathes were in the workshop of the Royal Trade Institute (Königlichen Gewerb instituts).[34] [35]. Remarkably, the 'duplex' machine, or one of the same design, is preserved at the old ironworks museum in Sielpia Wielka, Poland (see below). The other featured lathe had a 3 ft diameter faceplate, short bed and no tailstock. The carriage was moved along the bed by a central leadscrew driven from the main spindle by gears or manually by a large handwheel fixed to the end of the leadscrew. For facing, the top slide's leadscrew was rotated manually or driven by a belt from an overhead shaft having three different pulley sizes.

1833 A Fox planing machine was described at length in a German journal.[36]

1834 A Fox planing machine was described at length in a French journal.[37]

1838 A German publication described a Fox lathe apparently sent to Berlin in 1831 or earlier. A bolt screwing machine by Fox was also described. In this machine the thread was cut by a split die held stationary in the machine, while the bolt head was held in a chuck. The chuck in turn was fixed to a rotating spindle with a hollow bore. The spindle, which was free to move axially, was turned at low speed by a large diameter gear wheel fixed to the spindle between the spindle bearings. The large gear was driven by a long pinion (actually assembled from a series of short pinions). Drive to pinion came through a reversing bevel gear system driven by a belt.[38]. An excellent large scale model of such a machine is on display at the Musee des Arts et Metiers.

1838 An advertisement placed by Godwin & Woeste of Elberfeld, Germany, informed readers that, in their works, all types of lathes are manufactured in accordance with the system of Fox, of the best quality, and delivered at low prices.[39]

1830s: A French report concerning an important factory at Bialogon in Poland (the Bialogon Machine Works), loosely translated, includes the following equipment:
..... a large vertical boring machine, built by the famous mechanician Fox at Derby; this machine, which can be used to bore cylinders of a height of 14 pieds, and of the largest diameter, surpasses by its dimensions all the apparatus of this kind existing on the continent of Europe.
Three large lathes executed by the same master; one of these lathes has such a large area that one can place and shape the covers of the largest cylinders, and even wheels with a diameter of 15 pieds.
A planing machine, 24 pieds long. Some of them were used to machine the flat surfaces of the cast iron monument, erected near Warsaw in the memory of the Emperor Alexander.[40]. Note regarding dimensions: 'pieds' - French feet - were slightly larger than English feet.

1830s: A group of French experts made a series of visits to gather information about British factories, mines, etc., from the 1820s onwards, and published comprehensive reports. A report in 1837 embraced machine tools. Presumably this was written not long after the visit. Fox's factory and machines came in for particular attention, and it was reported that the works had seven planing machines and numerous lathes, powered by an 8 HP steam engine. One planing machine was reported to be planing a workpiece 24 ft long. On some planing machines cutting took place in one direction only, while others cut in both directions.[41]

1842 Translation from a French article: 'M. Thiébaut the elder, who was for a long time one of our best tool builders, introduced the first Fox slide and screwcutting lathes in our country, which still retain a just reputation. One of these lathes was, a few years ago, notable for its large size, with its bed, cast in one piece, of more than 7 metres in length, and a width of less than 70 cm . The 1/5 scale model of this lathe is exhibited in the galleries of the Conservatoire. Later, around 1835, Messrs. Debergue and Spréafico brought from England a large parallel lathe, of a similar size to that described, and which daily renders them great service.'[42]. Note: An 1852 French source[43] states that M. Pihet (Pihet et Cie) of Paris intoduced a powerful Fox lathe to his works (ateliers de faubourg Saint-Antoine) in 1826, and was soon followed by M. Thiébaut the elder.

1842 A Fox lathe (of approx 13" centre height and 6 ft between centres) was described and illustrated in the French Bulletin de la Société d'Encouragement pour l'Industrie Nationale[44]. A Fox planing machine was also described, made for Laborde of Ougrée, near Liege. Drawing here and here. This machine was arranged to cut in both directions, having two cross slides, arranged back to back. Each cross slide had its own self-acting feed mechanism. It could accommodate work up to 5.3 m long and 1.8 m wide. The machine was presumably the one for which permission was granted for importation into Belgium in 1839.[45] There is also a brief mention in December 1838 regarding permission for Lamarche and Brain of Ougrée to import a planing machine, rolling mill, and another machine[46]

c.1844 A French account appears to imply that Fox supplied a large lathe to the works of François Cavé in Saint-Denis, Paris. The lathe was described as 'one of the largest in existence'. Its faceplate was 3m diameter and it could turn workpieces up to 7m long. It was described in the Bulletin of Société d'Encouragement pour l'Industrie in 1842, and again in 1844.[47]. However, a German source describes the same lathe, but examination of the associated drawings shows no consistency with details of features on Fox's lathes. What the translated text does say is: 'Finally, there is a fourth type of lathe, the so-called parallel lathes or slide lathes, whereupon the piece to be machined turns or bores itself when it is clamped and the tool is properly placed. These last kinds of lathes, which we owe to Mr. Fox, a clever Englishman, are now most frequently used; when carried out with due diligence, and if their dimensions appropriate to the pieces to be worked, they perform the most important services in the workshops in which one deals with the building of large machines.'[48]. In fact the 1844 French text says 'Ce tour, dû à M. Fox, habile mécanicien anglais....' which translates as 'This lathe, due to M. Fox, skilled English mechanician...', so perhaps they are crediting this generic type of lathe to Fox.

1852 A French report referred to a planing machine made by James Fox in 1821 which could plane components up to 3m 2cm long and 55cm wide. It had features seen on later machines, with the cross slide raised by a pair of leadscrews, table traversed by a rack and pinion, driven by normal and crossed belts via fast and loose pulleys and a clutch, the tool being fed either manually or automatically by a ratchet and pawl system. It seems that Fox planing machines appeared in workshops in Paris, Berlin and Belgium in 1831 or 1832.[49]

Lathe Design

Fox's lathes embodied a number of rational design principles which appear remarkably advanced for their time, and many of those principles have firmly stood the test of time.

The lathes had box beds for rigidity, the beds being cast in a single piece, even in very large sizes. Some of the castings incorporated diagonal bracing between the side walls - a very advanced concept for the 1830s.

The carriage (saddle) and tailstock were guided by one V and one flat slideway. This arrangement is kinematically ideal, and is very widely used, but it is not without drawbacks. The majority of British lathe makers in the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century favoured flat ways with dovetails, following the popularity of the Joseph Whitworth's lathes. This arrangement was cheaper to make, and allowed a greater support area under the carriage, but required careful adjustment of gib strips for consistent guidance.

The headstock spindle had opposed tapered bearings.

The headstock and tailstock spindles had round, tapered holes for removable centres (later perfected and standardised by Stephen A. Morse)

Most Fox lathes were self-acting, the carriage being traversed by one of two methods. One method used a square layshaft with a sliding wormgear to turn a pinion engaging with a rack fixed to the bed. The wormwheel could be thrown out of engagement manually, or the layshaft could be stopped manually, or stopped automatically using adjustable strikers. See photo 2. When disengaged, the carriage could be moved by a hand crank acting on the same pinion.

The other type of automatic feed used a leadscrew instead of a layshaft, for surfacing or screwcutting. The leadscrew was engaged by a split nut. A French drawing published in 1842 shows the leadscrew at the back of the lathe, and the split nut was opened and closed by a tumbling lever. See here and here, here.

A large lathe at Sielpia Wielka (see below) has a layshaft at the back and a layshaft at the front. The connection between the carriage and the leadscrew appears to be missing. The screwcutting lathe at Wortley Top Forge (see below) also has a layshaft at the back and a leadscrew at the front, but the leadscrew has a different type of split nut, located more conveniently on the front of the carriage.

Just how advanced James Fox's lathes were depends on when they were constructed, and unfortunately there is great uncertainty here! Some historians have suggested that the lathes from Milford Mill could have dated from 1817, when Strutt's advanced workshop was built. If so, the lathes would have been truly remarkable. If not, it begs the question of what machinery Strutt did install in his new iron-roofed, extensively-glazed, water-powered workshop? Subjectively, it would be judged that the machines were made somewhat later.

Unfortunately, no information has so far come to light from contemporary British sources to help with dating the lathes. The earliest drawings identified so far are in the archives of the Musée des Arts et Métiers, and the online database has a date of September 1826[50]. However, W. Steeds wrote in 1969 that the drawings were listed as having been received by the museum in 1818. The museum are currently unable to shed further light on the date. Whether it is 1818 or 1826, the date refers to the production of the drawings (signed by W. Scheinlein), and not to the construction of the lathe itself. In many respects the machine has the typical features of the 'layshaft type' lathe described above, except that the headstock is a small affair, no bigger than the tailstock, and has a single small diameter drive pulley, located on the inboard end of the spindle. Thus, all we can say is that the lathes from Milford Mill are not inconsistent with a date of 1826 (or perhaps 1818).

A good indication that Fox was making sophisticated lathes much earlier than this comes from the reference above to machines supplied by Fox to Russia in 1806, which included a 'large boring, turning and screw cutting lathe'.

Surviving Machine Tools

A small number of surviving Fox machine tools have been identified. Examination shows very high standards of workmanship. Careful attention was given to the finish on all items, and it follows that the machines would have been expensive to produce.

1. Lathe ex-Milford Mill at Wortley Top Forge

See Fox of Derby: Lathe at Wortley Top Forge. This is described as 'c.1820', and it came from an 1817 machine shop at Milford Mill, Derbyshire. It has the main features which Fox was apparently using by 1818, but with the addition of a leadscrew and a more sophisticated headstock. If it does date from c.1820, it is a remarkable indication of the advanced state of the art at that time.

2. Planing Machine ex-Milford Mill in Birmingham

This also came from Milford Mill, and was formerly on display at the Birmingham Museum of Science and Industry. It is currently (2013) dismantled in store in the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery Collections Centre. See Fox of Derby: Planing Machine at Birmingham.

3. Lathe ex-Milford Mill in Birmingham

See photo above, and Fox of Derby: Lathe in Birmingham for more information.

W Steeds' 'A History of Machine Tools 1700 - 1910' includes photographs and information on the former Birmingham Science Museum's Fox lathe (now in store in the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery Collections Centre). This is larger than the Wortley lathe, having a much longer bed, but the design is very similar, except for the lack of a leadscrew. The lathe was 'officially' dated at 1817, although Steeds was 'inclined to put it five to ten years later'. The lathe also features in L T C Rolt's 'Tools for the Job', and it is interesting to note that, like the Wortley lathe and the Birmingham’s planer and London Science Museum's slotter, it came from Milford Mill. Rolt says: '… they were used in the construction and maintenance of textile machinery. They were driven by waterwheel and as the date 1817 appears on the cast-iron beams and line-shafting brackets of the building that was evidently built to house them, it is reasonable to ascribe them to this year. The machines have been attributed to William Strutt, but while Strutt was a most ingenious engineer and was undoubtedly responsible for the Milford building, the advanced and masterly design of the tools clearly reveals the hand of Fox'.

4. c.1830 Model of Large Lathe

The Musée des Arts et Métiers has a model of a Fox lathe built c.1830, which had a swing of 27" and a 22 ft bed. See Fox of Derby: Lathes in Paris. This is illustrated in Steeds' book. The full size lathe was owned by M. Thiébaut Sr., mentioned in the 1842 article referred to above. The model was built by the school of arts et métiers in Angers, and is 1.65m long and weighs 57kg. The lathe is very similar to the full size example preserved at the old ironworks museum in Sielpia Wielka, Poland (see below).

5. 1833 Planing Machine

The Musée des Arts et Métiers has an accurate working model of a planing machine built in 1833. It did not have an elevating cross slide, and was intended for machining fairly narrow components. The model was built by the Ecole royale de Chalons, based on the actual machine at the works of Pihet et Cie[51]. See photo above and Fox of Derby: 1833 Planing Machine.

6. c.1830 Screwing Machine

A scale model of a (screwing) threading machine (machine à tarauder les boulons et écrous or machine à fileter au peigne) is on display at the Musée des Arts et Métiers. It is copied from the machine imported from Fox by Thiébaut, who went on to make many copies of this machine.[52]. See Fox of Derby: Screwing Machine.

7. 1842 Planing Machine at Næs

A planer and several other machine tools were ordered from James & Joseph Fox by Næs Iron Works of Norway, arriving in 1842. The planer was still in use when the ironworks closed in 1959, and is believed to have been used after this. It eventually went to the Norwegian Technical Museum, who loaned it to Næs when the works was established as a museum (the Næs Iron Works Museum, 4900 Tvedestrand, Norway)[53]. See photos.

8. Lathe(s) in Poland

Remarkably, one, and probably two, large Fox lathes have survived in Poland, and can be seen at the old ironworks museum in Sielpia Wielka (Muzeum Zagłębia Staropolskiego w Sielpi Wielkiej - The Museum of the Staropolski Basin in Sielpi Wielka.[54].

Photos of the long bed lathe here and here [55]. It appears to be about twice the size of the lathe in Birmingham, and has many of the same features, but with the addition of a screwcutting/slow feed facility. The saddle, or carriage, is in the form of a large boring table, to which cylinders and the like could be bolted for boring. A toolpost on a compound slide could also be bolted to this table when using the lathe for turning and screwcutting. The saddle, like that on the Birmingham lathe, has 'wings' which extend well forward of the toolpost position. This feature, together with the slideways which extend right to the end of the bed, i.e. to the outboard end of the headstock, ensures that the toolpost is well-supported when working close to the headstock. An ingenious aspect on this lathe is that a plate can be inserted to span the gap between the saddle's 'wings' when used as a boring table. A scale model of the same type of lathe, which had a swing of 27" and a 22 ft bed, is on display at the Musée des Arts et Métiers. See Fox of Derby: Lathes in Paris

There are several other very old machine tools in the museum, including a large lathe of unusual design. This is a combined centre lathe and wheel (or facing) lathe, seen here. The large diameter headstock spindle carries a large faceplate at one end, and a smaller faceplate at the other end. The large faceplate is served by a cross slide and compound slide, for machining flywheels and the like, while at the other end there is a long bed with carriage and tailstock. The large faceplate appears to be about 8 ft diameter, and there was probably a pit alongside, allowing larger diameter work to be swung. In fact the length of the bed for the cross slide suggests that the lathe could have swung components of at least twice the faceplate's c.8 ft diameter. The lathe was driven by a belt through reduction gearing, the final drive being through the rim of the large faceplate. The lathe is an unsophisticated machine, and the workmanship appears to be cruder than in surviving Fox machines. Nevertheless, this machine is entirely consistent with the large Fox lathe described in a German publication of 1832, which could turn components up to 18 feet diameter [56]. An unusual feature shown on the drawings, but not on the surviving lathe, was a boring spindle which passed through the main lathe spindle. It could bore the hib of a wheel mounted on the large faceplate. The boring spindle was fed automatically at a using planetary gearing located adjacent to the small faceplate. The projecting end of the boring bar was provided with a curious arrangement to steady it against vibration, in the form of a strut with a wheel on the supporting end.

Note: The 'duplex' lathe is probably the Fox lathe referred to in a French report (see above) as being installed at Bialogon Machine Works and capable of turning 15 pieds (>15 feet).

Some or all of the machines at Sielpia Wielka came from Bialogon Machine Works near Kielce[57], this being the factory referred above (1840s French report) as possessing some large machines by Fox. In fact the Bialogon Machine Works developed into what is now the pump-making business Kielecka Fabryka Pomp "BIAŁOGON" , and their website[58] states that industrial activity started at the site with the construction of a smelting mill in 1814-1817. Smelting ended and attention turned to machinery production in 1827. English engineers and mechanics were brought in, and modern machines were ordered in Manchester and Derby. Clearly the Fox machines came from Derby, but it would be interesting to know what was ordered from Manchester. Hence the Fox lathe(s) now at Sielpia Wielka can be dated at post-1827. In the context of the machines for Bialogon, there is mention of a Petition of James Fox, 30 January 1827, perhaps for an export or import licence? [59].

The choice of Manchester and Derby for machines (machine tools only, or other types of machinery?) is interesting in the context of 1827. At that time, the construction of sophisticated general purpose machine tools for outside sale was in its infancy, even in Manchester. Ten years later, Manchester had become home to some of the leading makers of machine tools. Back in 1827 the leading machine tool maker in Manchester was Sharp, Roberts and Co. We know that early in 1827 Sharp, Roberts had shipped a slide lathe, planing machine, and a drilling machine for the Polish Government[60]. A large wall-mounted Sharp radial arm drilling machine is among the machines taken from Bialogon and now displayed at Sielpia Wielka Museum.

Note: There is a small planing machine in a corner of the machine hall in the Sielpia Wielka Museum, alongside a larger planing machine. A 1982 photo of the small machine can be seen here, where it is described as a Fox planer from the first half of the 19th century. However, it does not appear to have anything in common with known Fox planers.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Derby Mercury - Thursday 18 January 1787
  2. Derby Mercury, 12 January 1792
  3. 5 Mar 1795, Derby Mercury, Derbyshire, England
  4. Paper presented to the Newcomen Society by E A Forward in 1937, entitled 'Simon Goodrich and his Work as an Engineer - Compiled from his Journals and Memoranda'
  5. 'Matthew Murray 1765-1826 and the firm of Fenton Murray and Co 1795-1844' by Paul Murray Thompson, published by Paul Murray Thompson, 2015; p.155
  6. Derby Mercury, 12 August 1813
  7. [1] Pantalogia, Vol XI, by Good, Gregory and Bosworth, 1813, p. and Plate 172
  8. Nottingham Gazette, and Political, Literary, Agricultural & Commercial Register for the Midland Counties, 20 May 1814
  9. Nottingham Journal, 12 May 1827
  10. 1828-9 Pigot and Co.'s Directory of Ches, Cumb etc.
  11. 1829 Directory of Derbyshire
  12. Price list reproduced in 'Building the Steam Navy' by David Evans, Conway Maritime Press, 2004.
  13. Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties, 20 September 1833
  14. Derby Mercury, 2 September 1835
  15. [2] 'Die belgische Beeinflussung der Frühindustrialisierung im Aachener Raum, ca. 1820-1860' (The Belgian influence on early industrialization in the Aachen area, c. 1820-1860), Ph.D. thesis submitted by Hartmut Schainberg, University of Trier, p.309
  16. 'The Cromford & High Peak Railway and associated events'. Compiled by P J McCarthy, RAILWAY & CANAL HISTORICAL SOCIETY - RAILWAY CHRONOLOGY SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP
  17. 1851 Census for James Fox
  18. 1852 Freebody's Directory of Derby etc.
  19. Gazette Issue 22021 published on the 14 July 1857. Page 14 of 32
  20. Derby Mercury - Wednesday 27 January 1858
  21. Derby Mercury - Wednesday 27 January 1858
  22. Derby Mercury - Wednesday 20 July 1859
  23. 1861 Census for Joseph Fox
  24. Derby Mercury - Wednesday 23 May 1866
  25. Derby Mercury - Wednesday 21 November 1866
  26. Derby Mercury - Wednesday 22 May 1867
  27. Derby Mercury - Wednesday 08 December 1869
  28. Derby Mercury - Wednesday 19 October 1870
  29. [3] The Engineer 17 June 1870
  30. [4] Heritage Gateway
  31. The Mirror of Literature, Amusement and Instruction, Vol. XIII. 1829. Page 248: Belper
  32. 'A History of Technology and Invention - Progress through the Ages - The Expansion of Mechanization: 1725-1860' Edited by Maurice Daumas, translated by Eileen B. Hennessy, Crown Publishers Inc. First published in France in 1968 as 'Histoire Générale des Techniques', Chapter by André Garanger
  33. [5] Christian Peter Wilhelm Beuth - Industriespionage by Dr. Klaus Strohmeyer
  34. [6] Verhandlungen des Vereins zur Beförderung des Gewerbefleißes in Preussen, 1832. p.40 ff & Plates I-VI & 210 ff. and Plates
  35. [7] Verhandlungen des Vereins zur Beförderung des Gewerbefleißes in Preussen, 11. 1832
  36. [8] Sitzungsberichte des Vereins zur Beförderung des Gewerbfleisses, Volume 12, published by Verein zur Beförderung des Gewerbfleisses in Preußen. Unfortunately the drawings were not unfolded for scanning in this online version, but snippets indicate that it the same type of planer illustrated in French drawings published in 1834.
  37. [9] Bulletin de la Société d'encouragement pour l'industrie nationale, Volume 33, 1834, pp.153-9
  38. [10] Encyklopädisches Handbuch des Maschinen- und Fabrikenwesens, Carl Friedrich Alexander Hartmann, 1838.
  39. [11] Allgemeine Zeitung, 21 Octoner 1838
  40. [12] Parliamentary Accounts & Papers, Volume 52, 2 Feb – 24 Aug 1843, : Communication from the Marquis of Clanricarde to Viscount Palmerston: St Petersburg 30 April 1839, concerning the mines and factories of the Kingdom of Poland
  41. [13] 'Voyage métallurgique en Angleterre' by Armand Dufrénoy, Léonce Elie de Beaumont, Auguste Perdonnet, Léon Coste, 2nd Edition, 1837
  42. [14] 'Publication Industrielle des Machines, Outils et Appareils les plus Perfectionnés et les plus Récents.' by M. Armengaud Sr., 1842
  43. 'Exposition universelle de 1851. : Travaux de la Commission Française sur l'industrie des Nations': Charles Dupin
  44. [15] Bulletin de la Société d'Encouragement pour l'Industrie Nationale, 1842. 41e année. N. 451-462 pl.862 - ima.235
  45. [16] Bulletin Officiel des Lois et Arrêtés Royaux de la Belgie: Recueil des lois, décrets, ordonnances et règlements, Volume 19, 1839, concerning Royal permission for M. Lamarche, Director General of S.A. d'Ougrée, to import a machine from England for planing iron, of a 'construction unknown in Belgium'. A similar petition had been made at the same time by James and John Cockerill of Seraing to import a machine for planing iron and copper, and another machine for fluting cylinders, but it is not known whether these were from Fox.
  46. [17] Pasinomie: Collection Complète des Lois, Décrets, Ordonnances, Arrêtés etc., 1838
  47. [18] Société d'Encouragement pour l'Industrie Nationale 1844 p.349ff.
  48. [19] Textdigitalisate des Polytechnischen Journals - 1845, Band 95, Nr. XLVIII. (S. 170–174) - Beschreibung einer Paralleldrehbank mit Vorgelege zum Bearbeiten von sehr großen Stüken, welche in den Werkstätten des Hrn. Cavé zu Paris angewandt wird. From the Bulletin de la Société d'Encouragement, August 1844, S. 349
  49. 'Exposition universelle de 1851. : Travaux de la Commission Française sur l'industrie des Nations': Charles Dupin
  50. [20] CNUM search results page for TOUR PARALLÈLE DE FOX. This brings up a number of thumbnail drawings. Click on orange text to bring up another page with another thumbnail. Click on 'images' under 'Documents multimédia' near bottom of page. On next page, click on orange file reference number to bring up larger image
  51. [21] Dictionnaire universel du Commerce, de la Banque et des Manufactures, 1838
  52. [22] Dictionnaire universel du Commerce, de la Banque et des Manufactures, 1838
  53. [23] Naes Museum website, and information supplied by Mr Stan Reed, Curator/Consultant at Næs Iron Works Museum
  54. [24] Sielpia Wielka - Muzeum Zagłębia Staropolskiego
  55. [25] Galeria zdjęć Sielpia Wielka - Największe koło wodne w Europie
  56. [26] Verhandlungen des Vereins zur Beförderung des Gewerbefleißes in Preussen, 1832. Note: This document describes two lathes by Fox. The 'duplex' lathe referred to above is described in pages 210-214 and Plates XX to XXVI
  57. [27] Sielpia Wielka - Muzeum Staropolskiego Zagłębia Przemysłowego
  58. [28] Kielecka Fabryka Pomp "BIAŁOGON" S. A. website, history pages
  59. [29] 'British Technologies and Polish Economic Development 1815-1863' by Simon Niziol, Thesis submitted for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, London School of Economics and Political Science, Dec 1995. References PRO, BT1 /231, Petition of James Fox, Jan. 30,1827; Opisgeograficzno-historyczny (Kielce, 1979), pp. 45-47
  60. 'New Light on Richard Roberts, textile engineer (1789-1864)' by W. H. CHALONER, Transactions of the Newcomen Society Vol. 41 , Iss. 1, 1968. Context: In September 1827 the Sharp, Roberts machines were found to have been held by Customs in Liverpool for 7 months.