Adjustable Spanners - top to bottom: early example, Budding and a modern example

Adjustable Spanners: One Size Fits All

Wooden screw threads have been used in simple machines, like grape and olive presses, for over 2,500 years. Screw-fixed metal fasteners have been used in Europe for about 700 years. After machines for cutting screw threads were invented in the 18th century, the use of nuts and bolts became common. The first nuts were square and handmade. There were no standard sizes, so spanners had to be adjustable.

John Ferrabee (1788 – 1851) and Edwin Beard Budding (1796 – 1846)

In 1827 John Ferrabee set up the Phoenix Ironworks at Thrupp. Edwin Beard Budding was born at Eastington & lived at Chalford. In 1830 he invented the lawnmower and granted the manufacturing rights to John Ferrabee.

In 1843 Budding registered his design for an adjustable spanner. These spanners were first made at the Phoenix Ironworks. They are usually stamped

Did you know?

The museum has a collection of nearly 40 spanners of different types, shapes and sizes. We also have patents relating to spanners and advertising literature from Ferrabee's about Budding's spanner


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