James Fox (engineer)

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James Fox (* 1789 ; † 1859 ) was a machine tool manufacturer who was previously employed as a butler at Rev. Thomas Gisborne, of Foxhall Lodge, in Staffordshire and had a keen interest in the craft. His employer not only encouraged him, but also helped him start his own business.

The growth of the cotton, silk, and lace and hosiery industries in the Derby area called for skilled machine builders . So Fox asked themselves many opportunities to find work. His lace machinery ( tip machine ) was celebrated and he supplied the neighboring town of Nottingham . Fox also received orders from the large companies Arkwright and Strutt, the founders of modern cotton production.

Fox built one of the first planing machines around 1814 independently of Murry and Richard Roberts , which also used the return stroke of the chisel for machining as a key unique selling point . Enforced but eventually has become the well of James Nasmyth used rapid return .

Fox exerted a greater influence on the development of the lathe . As an innovation, he attached a rack to the lathe bed to move the support in order to relieve the lead screw via a gear unit and the tension spindle. He also separated the management of the support from that of the tailstock. In addition to manufacturing for Great Britain , he exported many machines abroad to France , Russia and Mauritius . Among other things, in 1830 he delivered a lathe with foot drive and tension spindle to the metal workshop of the Royal Industrial Institute in Berlin.

Fox's Derby business was carried on by his sons, but the company's history is unknown from the last third of the 19th century.

Some of Foxe's machines have been depicted in contemporary literature and some are exhibited as museum pieces in Birmingham and Norway .


  1. Karl Heinz Mommertz: Drilling, turning and milling. History of machine tools. Rowohlt TB Verlag, Hamburg 1981.
  2. ^ Karl Wittmann: The development of the lathe until 1939. 2nd edition. VDI-Verlag, Düsseldorf 1960.
  3. ^ W. Steeds: A history of Machine Tools 1700-1910. Oxford 1969.
  4. ^ Machine tools from Derby, England ( memento of October 26, 2000 in the Internet Archive ) at: museumsnett.no


  • Samuel Smiles: Industrial Biography. Iron Workers and Tool Makers. London 1863.