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Very old T Taylor Lathe - Anyone know anything?


Apr 17, 2008
Nottingham, UK
Hi, I was wondering if anyone can tell me anything about this machine? I have had it for a while and it was languishing in my loft. I recently brought it down to have a look. On the end of the bed it Says T. Taylor, Manchester.
I found a little information on lathes.co.uk and apparently it is over 100 years old!
It is incomplete so I'm looking to find/make the missing parts and learn what I can about it.


Well, I can't tell you much about the brand and model, but it LOOKS like many of the parts there are fabricated, rather than cast...

I see a stop... so you can cut parts to consistent length... I wouldn't expect a faceplate in that situation...

I see the reduction drive is missing the direct/backgear selector pin...
I see no threading/feed leadscrew.
Toolpost looks like a homemade "4-way" type...
Thanks Dave,

As you say, many of the parts are fabricated rather than cast. I'm told that the saddle and slides are probably not original. I think a lot of the stuff is hand finished/fabricated and that is probably partly due to its age?
Where is the stop you noticed?
There was a chuck with it but it does not fit the spindle.
The drive dog is not missing but it wasn't installed when I took the pictures. (Well spotted!)
Good Luck finding any information.

There is another Tomas Taylor lathe for sale on Tonys site. I noticed it a while back and contacted Tony because I own a T Taylor planer and couldn't find anything on the manufacturer. He added my pictures to the site.

Good luck,

Yeah, I noticed that lathe for sale. I'm thinking about it but I'm really loathe to spend that much on a machine that won't have any real, practical use for me though. I'll end up with two if I buy that one! - That'll be my ninth lathe! How many does a man need? I'm told I can only use one at once.
The lathe for sale at Tonys site looks complete and original. I mentioned it just as a comparison to give you some idea what attachments might have been available.

I gave a little thought to buying it but I think it is over priced and the shipping to the States would be a killer.

As to how many lathes one needs, Hmmmmm. I am not one to give advice, too many to count. Well, at least on my fingers !

Nice interesting little machine spacemonkey, for its day it looks strongly built, I would refer to it as a plain, back-geared turning lathe, In its case, any screwcutting would be carried out using chasers or a die, set in a holder in the tailstock, I would be inclined, to think it would be constructed for the amatuer engineer, or light workshop fraternity, likely made down to a price, At some stage in its early life, it would be somebodys "pride & joy", If only it could talk it would possibly be amazing what nice work was possibly carried out with it, a less sophisticated age, I would imagine by the look of the legs it was designed as a bench mounted machine In the victorian era, Britain must have had an awful lot of small firms turning out similar types of machine tools
There is not a lot of major missing components you can not make for your vintage machine, One cannot have too many machine tools to look at, you are bound to have something it can machine for you!, Enjoy it
Thanks guys,
It is interesting and I'll eventually sort it out so that it can do some useful work. I doubt I'll find a particular useful role for it but I'd like to do something with it because it is an interesting artifact. As you say, it was probably someone's pride and joy!
I wish all my machines could talk. I don't think I have anything younger than me!
I take a great interest in lost Manchester manufacturers (they’re nearly all lost now, sadly), and T. Taylor gave me something to get my teeth into.

A photo of a Taylor lathe and of Rammerc’s(?) planer on Tony’s site helpfully show the address as 74 Chester Street, Hulme.

From the various old trade directories that are online, together with some maps, and with Mrs Asquith’s probing of the old census returns, we can pretty well pinpoint Taylor’s premises at particular times.

We know he was at No. 74 in 1861and 1876. In 1861 and 1863 he was listed as a cutler. He was born in Sheffield, the epicentre of English cutlery making.

In the 1871 census he was listed as a mechanic, and as a master mechanic in 1881.

The 1876 trade directory has him as a tool maker, still at No. 74.

In 1879, 1883 and 1886 he was also listed as a tool maker, but now living across the street at No. 65 Chester Street. At the moment, the trail has gone cold after 1886. Unfortunately, Thomas Taylor was a very common name in Manchester.

We can conclude that a machine with No. 74 in the address was built before 1879, but how much before, we don’t yet know.

We know that Nos. 65 and 74 were where he lived, and we know that 74, at least, was his business address. Did he actually make the machines there? We know that No. 74 was subsequently occupied by a hairdresser and a fried fish dealer, which gives an idea of the type of property. In fact the whole area consisted of mean little terraced houses and shops, with a few small industrial buildings.

I have managed to find an old photo which almost pinpoints No. 65, the Global HQ of this maker of long-lived machine tools:-


Impressive, eh?

Let me present the evidence.

We know from the old trade directories that Nos. 65 & 67 were on the south side of Chester Street, straddled by Duke Street and Kingston Street. No. 67 was occupied by a coal dealer. Reference to the highly detailed 1844 Ordnance Survey map (an excellent Alan Godfrey Maps reprint), shows a building about 60 ft by 40 ft, next to a Coal Yard.

The photo in the link above was taken in 1933, and I’m fairly certain that it is taken from Chester Street, with Kingston St on the right, and what appears to be a coal dealer in the foreground, with its little carts for customers’ use. The building to the left of it, I believe to be No. 65. It is typical of the ‘corner shops’ of that time and place, familiar to viewers of TV’s 'Coronation Street'. We know from the directories that No. 65 did become a shop, and at one time 65 & 67 were owned by a dairyman.

It’s hard to believe that the machines were made there, but based on my findings of other old Manchester engineers, I certainly would not rule it out. If he bought the castings in, and wasn’t too ambitious with his order book, what’s to say he didn’t make them there?

Incidentally, just 500 yds south west of here was an unimposing factory where Henry Royce made electrical equipment, cranes, and the first Rolls-Royce cars:-


500 yds north of Taylor’s was Galloway’s engine works, and 600 yds north east was the Crossley Brother’s first engine works.
I came across another example of a T Taylor lathe, now in use for wood turning:-

My old lathe a T.Taylor from the turn of LAST century! : Wood Turning - Lathes - UKworkshop.co.uk

An interesting feature is the finish on the bed ways, as machined with a broad-nosed planing tool.

Moving on: Looking at the ‘sold’ adverts on Tony’s website, I came acorss this:-

SOLD: TAYLOR lathe – 2.25” x 10” (55 mm x 250 mm) miniature backgeared plain-turning lathe. The only known example as manufactured by T.Taylor of Chester Street, Hulme, Manchester. ……. this lathe was, until recently, in the possession of the Gardner family of diesel-engine fame and stored unused for many years.

Those familiar with Gardner engines will be aware of their quality. Lawrence Gardner started off in a small way, and early products included coffee roasters, hot air engines, and dentists’ chairs! Bear with me, it gets a bit more relevant.

I went to a superb book, L Gardner & Sons Limited - Legendary Engineering Excellence by Graham Edge (available again, highly recommended) and learned that Lawrence Gardner started on his own in 1868. 'His first premises were rather basic and cramped, being located in adjoining cellars under four houses in Duke Street, off Stretford Road, Manchester. Machinery such as a boiler and lathe had to be lowered into the cellars through a trapdoor in the pavement. ….. Lawrence, Anne, and their children lived in one of the houses above the workshops and the others were sublet.'

Note the reference to Duke Street, Thomas Taylor’s premises also being adjacent to Duke Street. In fact the old directories show that Lawrence Gardner was listed under 'Engineers & Machinists' and also 'Sewing Machine Makers' at 7 Duke Street (Upper). This was 300 yards south of Taylor’s, and as far as I can make out from the old maps, the premises were very similar in layout to Taylor's at 65 Chester Street. Gardner's Upper Duke Street property was at the end of two adjacent rows of terraced houses which faced onto Dale Street and Bonsall Street. To my mind this similarity strongly reinforces the likelihood that Taylor's machines were made in those unlikely-looking premises.

It would be nice to think that the little lathe, that someone bought off Tony’s website, had been saved by the Gardner family as a memento, and used by Lawrence Gardner himself.
My last word (probably) on the topic: we know from the census that Thomas Taylor was still working as a tool maker in 1891. It appears that he died early in 1892, aged 74. Subsequently two of his sons were employed as brass foundry moulders, and one as a solicitor. Therefore it seems probable that the machine making business ended in 1891 or 1892.
Sorry to revisit an old thread but was very interested to read about the above Lathe and machinist as I have just discovered that the old Lathe I have known all my life and recently inherited is also a T Taylor Lathe, with the No 74 address.
Not quite complete but interesting none the less.
Back gears present but with broken teeth. Centre missing from tailstock.

I nearly parted with it on ebay last week but a potential seller alerted me to check its date of manufacture and found reference to it on lathes.co.uk.

So, plan is to restore this as far as I am able.
Any recommendations on how best to proceed?


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