Victorian Era Toolmaker: The Hines Firm

The Hines Family (1802-1962)

This well-respected firm was run by a family of engineers for nearly 150 years, producing ornamental turning products that were accurate and built to high standard.

The Hines business was established in 1820 at the Griffin Works in St. Margaret’s, Norwich by Charles Hines, although the Hines catalog says the original company was setup in 1802 by Jonathon Cawdron at Duke Street, Norwich. Charles Hines was thought to have been the nephew of Cawdron but it appears that he was adopted by him. Cawdron invented various lathe accessories, which were still being made at the end of the nineteenth century at Griffin Works. (It was claimed that Griffin Works was not only the oldest but the largest manufacturer of quality lathes and related equipment for amateurs in England, which is dubious when compared with the output and workforce of Holtzapffel & Co.)

Better known as Edward Hines, he carried on his fathers business producing quality ornamental turning lathes. The company remained small with no more than a dozen employees. Edward Hines invented apparatus of various kinds and wrote a number of articles and booklets on lathes and accessories, some of which include:

  • The Construction of Tools and Apparatus Used in Turning by Amateurs, "The Forge and Lathe," May 21, 1878.
  • A Perfect Indoor Recreation for the Overworked Brain, "Oriental Bazaar," Norwich. 1882.
  • Amateurs Turning Lathes and Accessories for the Workshop. 1980.
  • The Face Plate: A Universal Chuck, Norwich., circa 1890.
  • Cutting Edges and Cutter Bars for Practical Workers, circa 1890.
  • Portfolio of Designs for Turning, circa 1890s.

Hines catalogue of lathes and tools, 1885.

An "Amateurs' Lathes & Tools" catalogue by Edward Hines, dated 1885, is reproduced in Part 4 of John Edwards' Holtzapffel Volume VI publication. A large variety of turning lathes and tools are listed, many with pictures, along with advertisements for other engineering, optical and scientific apparatus. Some of the many items include:

  • self-acting, screw cutting, gap bed lathe
  • precision tool grinder
  • perfection shaping machine
  • vertical slide for milling
  • hand-shaping or planing and slotting machine
  • tool grinding and polishing apparatus (various)
  • officer's lathe / student's lathe
  • medallion machine
  • geometric apparatus
  • Capt. Dawson's patent geometric slide rest
  • combination slide rest
  • metal turning slide rest
  • ornamental turning slide rest
  • universal self-centering chuck / independent four-jaw chuck
  • angle chuck / bench chuck / worm chuck / screw-cutting chuck
  • surface ornamenting instruments and revolving cutters
  • wheel cutting attachment
  • cutting bars, taps, hand tools, reeding tools
  • ...and more!

Sidney was the son of Edward Hines and the last person in the family to have lathe and tool customers. He lectured on ornamental turning to the Model Engineering Society, which he was president for a time, illustrating his talk with lantern slides which depicted ornamental turning lathes and apparatus. These slides, along with a Hines ornamental turning lathe, tools, equipment and various documents were later donated to the Bridewell Museum.

World War I changed many things including the demand for amateur lathes, so the company switched to production of commercial machines and parts. Sidney was very active in the business throughout his entire life, but with his death came the end of the Hines ornamental turning enterprise.

The two sons of Sidney Harry Hines ultimately became directors of Edward Hines (Engineers) Ltd. and switched the firm's production to conveyors and other specialty machines.
The two sons of Sidney Harry Hines ultimately became directors of Edward Hines (Engineers) Ltd. and switched the firm's production to conveyors and other specialty machines.

More details, including numerous drawings and photos, can be found in the Society of Ornamental Turners Bulletins #89.

If you want a tool to be the centre of all manner of tinkering and mending, or for exercise that is gentle and cheap, or for calling the mind off from anxiety or hard thinking, or for healthful and artistic creations, I know of no instrument to be compared to the Lathe. It is easily kept in order, and the results are so quick, so varied, and so beautiful, that you never get tired of it.

Reverend John Todd (1870)


Hines lathe index plate with engraved signature.