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Edgell, maker of railway curves

Stewart Kingsley wants to know about the maker of these curves.

Stewart wrote:

I have recently purchased a nice set of wooden railway curves, which as you will know are drawing stencils for drawing arcs particularly useful for large radii, such as in railway or highway design. The curves are all stamped with the maker's name (A Edgell & Co London) and an Ordnance broad arrow, suggesting First World War era.

I am interested to learn more about the maker, so far I have found that it was probably Albert Edgell - Mathematical Instrument Makers based in Bow and that the company probably operated in 52 Eglinton Road E3 about 1895 and then moved to 115 Tredegar Street (but could be Road or Square?). I also found a note on the Internet saying that A Edgell had their contract with the Govt liquidated after WW1, from which I deduce that they were supplying instruments to the government during the war.

After that the trail goes cold, I have found on the Internet a few descriptions of various pieces made by Edgell that occasionally come onto the market, such as box wood scale rules (some dated 1915), slide rules, etc. Some are wooden, but curiously some metal, although I don't know what else they produced.

So the purpose of this contact is to enquire whether any of your members might have any further information at all about this company. I am fascinated to know more about their history, what else they produced (or maybe they were just suppliers and didn't actually make anything?) and what became of them. Their precision instruments seem to be very well made, albeit quite niche.

I wonder if they simply folded up after WW1? Although one thing that does occur to me is that subsequently this area of the East End of London was particularly badly bombed during WW2, including a direct hit by a V2 in Bow.

Any thoughts or information would be gratefully received. I am not a dealer, simply an elderly retired surveyor with a passing interest in bygone drawing and surveying instruments and their history.


Jane Rees responded:

In reply to Stewart Kingsley: I suspect he got the dates for Edgell that he quoted from The Rule Book. When researching the makers for the book, I came up against exactly the same problem. In 1915 they just disappeared from the directories.

However, I would point out that the Broad Arrow does not necessarily imply World War I vintage. The broad arrow was adopted by the Office of Ordnance to denote government property in the 1580s and has been used ever since. The Office of Ordnance became the Board of Ordnance, then in the mid-19th century, the War Department and finally the Ministry of Defence. I believe the broad arrow is still in use today for the same purpose. Several of the countries of the British Empire also use it usually with additional initials to indicate the country. In India this was an “I” over the arrow. Sometimes it is used in conjunction with a date – which is very helpful and also sometimes initials to indicate a specific department – e.g AM was the Air Ministry.


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