Victorian Era Turners: The Beckford Lineage

The Beckford Lineage

The Beckford family spanned several generations at the lathe with Victorian Era F. J. B. Beckford being the first traceable owner of ornamental turning equipment in the lineage.

Portrait of William Thomas Beckford, 1782. (Courtesy National Portrait Gallery)
William was one of the most famous of all English eccentrics, builder of Fonthill Abbey near Salisbury and author of the novel Vathek, published in 1786.
Son of William, Francis John Bramston Beckford was the first traceable owner of Evans lathe No. 1162. He lived at Parkstone, Dorset (England), presumably where a photo from 1909 shows him happily engaged on the lathe.
Son of Francis John who was known to have added much equipment to the lathe, some of which has been lost. For example, work created on the lathe appears to have been made using a spiral spherical slide rest which is no longer with the outfit.
F. J. was the niece of Francis William whose farmer sons were apparently responsible for the neglect of the lathe until it was rescued by her other son, Major Adrian Houghton Beckford (1934-). He arranged for it to be sold to a Society of Ornamental Turners member in 1997 who restored it to working condition.

For additional details and photos of pieces created by the Beckfords, see the Society of Ornamental Turners Bulletin #98.

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)