Register :: Login
Manufacturers Index - Holbrook & Sons
Last Modified: Jul 10 2017 5:17PM by Jeff_Joslin
If you have information to add to this entry, please contact the Site Historian.

Holbrook & Sons of Stratford, London, was established in 1850 by Richard Edward Holbrook. By 1934 the name had become Holbrook Machine Tool Co. The company survived until at least 1958.

Information Sources

  • Grace's Guide page on Holbrook & Sons.
  • The lathes.co.uk main page on Holbrook has quite a bit of information on the Holbrook lathe lineup, including some quite obscure models.
  • 1920-09-09 American Machinist.
    A 7-in. (14-in. swing) toolroom lathe by Holbrook & Sons, Stratford, has automatic stops which, set for screw-cutting, enable the threading tool to run up a blind hole without fear of breakage. A 6-in. (12-in. swing) lathe has four stops for turning, but by using a trigger the saddle can, if necessary, be passed over the stops, the trigger being lifted automatically when the lathe is screw-cutting.
  • 1927-07-21 American Machinist Semi-Annual Shop Equipment Review.
    Lathe, Engine, 13-In. Swing Holbrook Sr Sons, Stratford, London, E., England. [Vol.66, p.4E]

    This company has introduced a cone-pulley lathe which swings work 13 in. in diam. over the bed and 36 in. between centers, 9 in. being swung over the saddle and 24 in. in the gap, which is 6½ in. wide from the faceplate.

    With sliding back gears and a two-speed countershaft, twelve spindle speeds are available, the range being from 15 to 400 r.p.m. The quick-change gear box gives thirty-two direct feeds, and threads from 2 to 28 per in., inclusive, can be cut. The lathe takes about 1½ hp. and weighs 1,750 lb. net.

  • A 1951 issue of Aircraft Production.
    The range of toolroom lathes manufactured by the Holbrook Machine Tool Co., Ltd., 44, Martin Street, Stratford, has recently been extended by the introduction of the C.B. No. 8 precision bench-lathe. The machine, which has been developed from the company's standard B bench-lathe, has an electronic speed-control embodied in the main drive. The spindle runs in ball-bearings and is directly driven by vee-belts from a motor in the base of the cabinet. The spindle-pulley is mounted on separate ball- bearings and drives the spindle through a multi-toothed clutch. This arrangement relieves the spindle of any belt-tension and gives a direct open belt-drive for speeds up to 3,000 r.p.m. and an indirect, geared drive with a ratio of 6:1 for lower speeds up to 500 r.p.m. The spindle-speeds in both ranges are infinitely variable and are indicated on a tachometer on two scales, 0-3,000 and 0-500 r.p.m. which correspond to the open and indirect drives. The motor is controlled by push-buttons which operate independently of the ...
  • A 1952 issue of The Automobile Engineer.
    Holbrook Machine Tool Co., Ltd. (Stand No. 36—Grand Hall Annex)

    For many years the toolroom lathes designed and manufactured by Holbrook Machine Tool Company Limited, 44-48, Martin Street, Stratford, London, E.15, have earned high praise for their precision, ease of operation and general suitability for high-class work. The latest lathe developed by this company will be shown at the exhibition and will undoubtedly further enhance their reputation. It is the model "A" 27-30 toolroom lathe, swinging 30 in. over the bed and taking 72 in. between centres...

  • The 2006 book, Alfred Herbert Ltd and the British Machine Tool Industry, 1887-1983, by Roger Lloyd-Jones and M. J. Lewis.

    ...To augment its capacity and product range, the company [Alfred Herbert Ltd.] acquired between 1957 and 1961 three complementary small machine tool companies, Holbrook, Berridge and Whiteley, and one electrical company, Mudie. ...

    ...In July 1957, attention turned to the Holbrook Machine Tool Co., which had factories at Stratford, London, and Harlow, Essex. Holbrook, a firm with an 'excellent' reputation as a batch producer of precision lathes, had an average turnover of £400,000, pre-tax profits of £130,000 and total assets, excluding plant, of £600,000. Each operating plant included 250 machine tools, the Stratford and Harlow factories each producing 12 lathes per month. As Blair acknowledged, with additional investment Holbrook could increase output, its lathes would sell 'without interfering with other lines', and it would provide additional capacity when trade recovered. Announcing the financial settlement in December 1958, at a purchase price of £700,000, Clark assessed Holbrook as a cost effective producer, which 'would broaden the interests of Alfred Herbert ... in the Machine Tool Industry ... to the mutual advantage of both companies'. Rationalisation envisaged the utilisation of the joint production and sales 'facilities' of the two companies to enabled a coordinated manufacturing programme for lathes to avoid duplication.

    ...and by 1963 Mudie was highly dependent upon contracted work from Herbert's for electrical control panels. More serious problems were confronted at Holbrook, Clark acknowledging that 'Administration of the company is peculiar', and there had been difficulties in persuading the long serving family managers to retire. To install direction supervision of the business, Blair became chair, with Ellson a co-direction, but although the company's Harlow operations were concentrated in modern premises, providing a potential to speed up output, its Stratford plant was obsolete. The company also relied on 11 outside suppliers for castings, providing problems for quiality control. As Clark conceded, 'Many changes would have to be made'. Rapid change, however, proved problematic, the technical staff at Holbrook resisting interference from Herbert staff, the forcing Blair to appoint a Holbrook man, G. L. Kaye, as general manager of the company. Urging the need for a 'close liaison' with Holbrook, Clark sanctioned the transfer of Edwick lathe manufacture to the company's Stratford works. Further, the factory at Harlow was converted to manufacture a new tool room precision lathe, expected to sell to the value of £500,000 in 1961, while at the same time the Herbert Factored Department assumed responsibility for export sales from Harlow. However, as early as 1959, problems appeared in the design capabilities of Holbrook, production constrained by shortages of skilled workers. Nevertheless, the demand for precision lathes persuaded management to invest in improved plant in 1961, a programme supervised directly by Muirhead. In 1962, Blair reported that Holbrook's speciality precision lathes had a real potential, but Muirhead remained sanguine, emphasising that output had fallen short of targets, labour was in limited supply, and delays occurred in re-configuring designs to Herbert standards. Moreover, intense competition from the lower priced and superior designed lathes of Dean, Smith and Grace posed serious marketing problems. From a financial perspective, Holbrook profits in 1962 were just £41,000 and rose to only £45,000 in 1963.