Ornamental Turning

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"They will get tired of looking for a two-seater to cross the road and it will all come back again."

— John George Holtzapffel Budd (in the closing hours of the Holtzapffel firm)

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Manufacturers of OT Equipment

Victorian Era Manufacturers of OT Equipment

Undoubtedly the makers of ornamental turning equipment during the Victorian Era did their fair share of ornamental turning. However, their greatest contribution was in developing the tools to further expand the reach and design of ornamental turning.

  • Holtzapffel Firm (1794-1928)
  • Evans Firm (1810-1895)
  • Hines Firm (1820-1962)
  • Hartley Firm (1845-1886)
  • James Munro – Munro made ornamental lathes and tools in London in the mid-1800s. He had been an employee of Holtzapffel prior to starting his own business. It is said that the quality of his lathes were equal to Holtzapffel, although the number produced is not known and few of them survive today.
  • Joseph Fenn – Fenn worked for the Holtzapffel firm before starting his own toolmaking company.
  • James Lukin (1827-1917) – Lukin was an accomplished turner who wrote numerous books on turning, published between 1868 and 1905. In addition, he was an engineer who produced lathes. The Britannia Company of Colchester, England shows a picture of the Lukin ornamental turning lathe, which appears similar in construction to other 19th century lathes.
  • William Goyen (1814-1898) – Goyen worked as a mining engineer in Devon, England. Though little details are known, it appears he started to make lathes upon retirement to Newton Abbot around 1870. Over the next 20 years, from age 56 to 76 he single handedly produced some of the finest ornamental lathes ever made, ten of which are known to exist today.
  • George Birch (1842-1900) – During the 1870s, while working as a manager at the Railway Steel and Plant Company in Newton Heath (Manchester, England), Birch met two of the best-known ornamental turners in the area, William Hart and Jesse Lowe. In 1884, he founded Birch & Company in Salford, U.K. and formed a team with Lowe who provided many of the ideas that Birch put into production. While Birch made ornamental lathes and a complete variety of related apparatus, that was only a small part of the many types of machines the company produced for industry. Birch turning equipment was known to be a robust, high quality, improved version of standard OT equipment, but at a premium price. Nine ornamental lathes are known to exist, along with two special short bed versions for medallion work only. More details can be found in the Society of Ornamental Turners Bulletins #97.

Sources for information in this section