Tools for sale 

The New Works, Cheston Road, Birmingham

A reflection on Edward Preston by Mark Rees

Ten years ago I stood looking at the last PRESTON factory in Cheston Road, Birmingham – the road was still there. At the back, the railway embankment was also still there but I was five years too late – what remained of the works stood only a foot or two above ground and most was just a pile of rubble awaiting the developer – and the last train had long since rattled away. The distance from the road to the embankment seemed a lot shorter than it appeared in the engraving in the catalogue; PRESTON was never a large firm, but maybe it thought it was.

The progression of the PRESTON firm is now well known – from wooden planemaking in 1825, through the addition of rules and levels to the product range in the 1860s and starting in the 1880s, the development of a wide range of cast iron routers, shaves and planes. Finally, in the 20th century more engineers’ and general tools were added.

But nothing much ever seems to have been dropped from the range; indeed more and more often, minor varieties were added. In the final years – the firm collapsed in 1932 – there was an effort to modernise, producing what are, for the collector some of the rarest of the PRESTON items, for example, the nickel plated trammels.

Appeared 1995 – Toolshop Auctions Catalogue

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