Simonds Files


Mechanic's Tools and Their Makers

  Tools for the Job by L. T. C. Rolt, 1965    

In a lifetime of dealing with the production and distribution of machine tools I have been impressed by the vital part that tools have played in the history of the Industrial Revolution.

Even at the risk of appearing partisan to the Industry in which I have had such an absorbing interest it does seem odd, if not unfair, that those who hail technological marvels as triumphs of ingenuity and skill fail to give any credit to those engineers whose work has made such spectacular inventions possible.

But for the innovators and creators of machine tools, there would be no steam turbines, motor cars, bicycles, airplanes, radio, washing machines nor, indeed, most of those industrial and domestic items on which civilized progress depends.

The names and the work of the machine tool builders have, for the most part, remained hidden within the four walls of the workshop and their ingenuity quite unappreciated by the public at large.


A tribute to these unacknowledged 'back-room boys' is long overdue and I am glad to see published a book which fulfills this need. This volume is, however, not a catalogue of fulsome compliments, though they are well enough merited, to the pioneers of machines for making machines. It presents for the first time a definitive short history of machine tools.

Although the development of the machine tool in the United Kingdom up to the middle of the nineteenth century is fairly well covered by Samuel Smiles as well as by Professor Roe, there the story previously ended.

What was needed, therefore, was a modern Smiles to carry out the necessary research and write a book covering objectively and comprehensively the interplay of metal-working production needs and complementary development of the machine tool in both the Old and New Worlds and there could not have been found a better author than Mr. L. T. C. Rolt, distinguished writer and engineer-historian, to see this task through.

It is my sincere hope, surely not without foundation, that this book's contribution to the knowledge of those machines on which our present civilization depends will be widely welcomed.

J. B. S. Gabriel
Charles Churchill and Company Limited

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