At the beginning of the twentieth century Britain was amongst the world leaders in the production of machine tools, yet by the 1980s the industry was in terminal decline.
Focusing on the example of Britain's largest machine tool maker, Alfred Herbert Ltd of Coventry, this study charts the wider fortunes of this vital part of the manufacturing sector. Taking a chronological approach, the book explores how during the late nineteenth century the industry developed a reputation for excellence throughout the world, before the challenges of two world wars necessitated drastic changes and reorganisations.
Despite meeting these challenges and emerging with confidence into the post-war market place, the British machine tool industry never regained its pre-eminent position, and increasingly lost ground to foreign competition. By using the example of Alfred Herbert Ltd to illuminate the broader economic and business history of the British machine tool industry, this study not only provides a valuable insight into British manufacturing, but also contributes to the ongoing debates surrounding Britain's alleged decline as a manufacturing nation.