Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Vanished Tool Makers: Coventry Gauge & Tool Company, England

Below, from A.J. Lissaman.  Metrology for the Technician.  (London:  The English Universities Press Ltd., 1967).

In 1913,  Walter Tatlow occupied premises in Earlsdon House, Coventy to make and design tools and gauges for the engineering industry.  He was assisted by his brother-in-law Harry H. Harley, but relations between the two men soured and Harley bought him out.  In 1916, the company name was changed to the Coventry Gauge and Small Tool Company, Ltd.

Earlsdon House
In 1936, a new factory was built in Coventry.  With the coming of war clouds in 1939 a factory was established by Harley, (now Sir Harry H. Harley, C.B.E.) in Brechin, Scotland in order to disperse production.  For a glimpse of what it was like to work there during World War II, read "Memories of the Maxtrix," which includes the following

"We apprentices had to make gap gauges and use micrometers to bring the gap to thousands of an inch with micrometers. They then went to the skilled men to check and complete. 
"We had hundreds by each worker, but, as learners made many, many duds, a lot of them were spirited out at lunchtime in overall pockets and thrown up the brae where Hillview now is. I bet a metal detector up there now would have a field day. 
"I remember only too well the visits of Mr Harley. Terror reigned among the teenagers, and also among the more senior members. 
"He was quite tyrannical in his ways, a very hard man who stood no nonsense and no mistakes. Walking along between the rows of machines he might stop, whip off his jacket and hand it to one of his retinue, roll up his sleeves and take over saying: "This is how it should be done, and this is how you will do it".


The firm produced a variety of products, including specialized lathes.  At some point, the firm adopted the trademark "Matrix" as the company name.   

The Coventry and Brechin locations appear to have gone down different roads.  In 1969, the Brechin operation was acquired by Tube Investments, one of the largest bicycle manufacturers in Britain.  (Tube Investments joined Smiths Industries in 2000 to become the TI Group.)  In 1996, Matrix was sold off to the Hay Hall Group.   Beginning in 2009, the Brechin factory saw job losses, and was bought by some local businessmen who renamed it Coventry Gauge Estates. Matrix International remains as one of its tenants.

In 2004, the Matrix Machine Tool (Coventry) Company returned to its original location, where it commenced production of CNC thread grinding machines.

So, the firm lives on under another name, but no longer as a producer of high quality metrology tools.

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