Special Exhibits - Historic lathe collection
Historic lathe collection

To complement the collections by the exhibitors and the historic collection of artefacts there is a display of historical lathes.

One of the very earliest forms of lathe must be the Pole Lathe going back possibly several millenia and there will be demonstrations of this during the course of the Exhibition.

The pole lathe suffers a disadvantage in that it is spinning the work-piece alternately backwards and forwards and can only cut 50% of the time.

To overcome this shortfall Leonardo da Vinci invented the Treadle Lathe to give continuous rotation and a replica of this will be demonstrated using a reconstruction made by Stuart King.

As turning developed into its more ornate form the machines became complicated. The amazing artefacts of the Holtzapffel Collection were turned on the advanced (for their day) Ornamental Turning lathes of the nineteenth century and a fully equipped machine of this genre will be on show.

This was the era of the amateur scientist and Holtzapffel & Co proudly boasted to their potential customers that their beautifully finished lathes of mahogany, polished brass and steel would “befit any gentleman's library”.

With increasing capability of the machines better and more powerful machine could be produced which in turn could drive more powerful lathes and other derived machine tools and so on. Thus was borne the enabling technology of the Industrial Revolution to rapidly machine metal rather than wood.

Modern lathes

Today the computer is added to the machine tool to give Computer Numerical Control and a small example of this is shown on the Charity stand where it has been harnessed as a driving medium for the most severely physically handicapped with only the barest ability to key in information.

These lathes are donated by the Turners' Company to specialist schools. It is also interesting to see a 100 year old lathe donated by the Turners' Company to a boys' home and still proudly displaying the fact on a brass plate.