Saturday, September 30, 2017

Vanished tool makers: L.A.L. Ltd. (Lehmann-Archer & Lane, Ltd.), Ilford, Essex, England

Above, a tap and a die made by this firm.  The company dates back to the 1890's.  According to one story I read online, when the British Association (BA) thread form was developed, Mr. Lehmann was approached by the committee to produce the very first BA taps and dies from 0 to 16 BA.  To do so, he had to develop special machines to produce these special thread cutting tools.  The firm operated initially out of Derwent Mills (now a World Heritage Site) and then out of  their Hampshire Works on Forest Road, Ilford, Essex, in east London.



Apparently, their tap and die works was located in the new town of Newton-Aycliffe in the north-east of England.  (According to  its Wikipedia entry, "Aycliffe was a key element in World War II ammunitions manufacturing. The marshy land was ideal cover against the Luftwaffe as it was almost continually shrouded in fog and mist. Huge grass-covered munitions factories were built and serviced by the nearby railway lines. The factories were largely staffed by women (in their thousands); these ladies were dubbed the "Aycliffe Angels", who braved incredible dangers inside the factories."

1951 aerial view of L.A.L. Factory on Aycliffe Industrial Estate, Newton Aycliffe
Source:  Britain from Above

They eventually produced taps under the "Blue Wizard" trademark.  In Canada, this was first registered in 1960.  The company was bought by Osborn-Musket Tools Ltd. (now Clarkson-Osborn) which still uses the Wizard trademark:


Anonymous said...

I found a set of 6BA LAL taps in my company`s workshop. I don`y know how old they are but they cut beautifully I used a NEW set of Presto one for comparison and they are rubbish; having to back off every half turn as they bound up giving that "springy" feel you get when cutting a thread just before a tap breaks.

Christine Fenwick said...

My dad Ronald Frederick McSweeney worked there in 1950. He is pictured on their April 1950 calender page

Mister G said...

Thanks! Send a picture and I'll post it!

Barry said...

My mother worked at the Forest Road plant in the 60’s acid etching the sizes on blue wizard taps, I still use her gifts 60 years later as a machinist in Canada

Unknown said...

Thanks for this info. Was sorting through my late dad's tools and found dies made by LAL, Presto and Easterbrooks. Nice to be able to locate history of these manufacturers.

Anonymous said...

I've just found out today that my Father started work at the Aycliffe factory as a flute miller after he left the Army in 1960. He says taps only were made there and not dies...but it could be his memory failing.

davecullen6 said...

Fascinating, thanks, I have just come across some LAL taps in garage, belonged to a late uncle who worked at Rolls Royce as a draughtsman way back, curiously they are mostly BSP thread, but he did a lot of DIY.
Thanks for the info

Anonymous said...

Hi hoping you might be able to help. I've been clearing out my farther in laws garage/workshop and have come across a set of taps and dies but the label shows
Lehmann Archer and co ltd. Notcsure if this is the same firm different era or a different firm. Struggling to find info on it.

Mister G said...

I usually rely on Grace's Guides for questions like this, but find nothing?