Peter S. Stubs
Warrington, Lancashire, England

Peter Stubs was an important Lancashire, England, toolmaker who began manufacturing tools in the mid eighteenth century. The tools made by Peter S. Stubs in the Museum collection are typical of those which the Stubs Co. imported to the USA in the 19th century.  A detailed description of Stubs role in the Industrial Revolution is contained in E. Surry Dane's Peter Stubs and the Lancashire Hand Tool Industry located in the reference section of the visitor's tool examination area.

The following clock and watchmaker tool illustrations and descriptions are from John Wyke's 1978, A catalogue of tools for watch and clock makers.

Plate 10: Slideing Tongs [and] Spring Dividers
slideing tongs and spring dividers
Tools 230 to 237
Sliding tongs were used to hold small parts in such a way that they could be handled in different positions for filing, etc., but unlike pliers in that the work was clamped in the jaws. Clamping was done by sliding the collar or "thimble" down the arms with the work in place; the small dovetail slot which appears in the lower arm, near the thimble in each tool, was for securing the spring between the arms to open them. The arms of sliding tongs are flat, and the whole tool could be held in a bench vise if necessary.
230. round Noses: With jaws cut away on both faces and a slot to hold wheel arbors.
231. Balance wheel: Jaws with one face cut away to accommodate the pallets of a balance verge.
232. Flat Noses: With flat jaws to hold flat items.
233. broad Chops: See no. 232.
234. Slant Chops: See no. 232.
235A-E. Spring Dividers: Multipurpose tools for marking out. Made of steel with a steel hinge spring.  All adjusted by means of a wing nut, and no. 235A has a small locking nut inside the left arm for making sure that the measurement is not disturbed.
236. Kerb Dividers: With one point adjustable, used for marking out a watch slide, or curb, and general fine work.
237. Spring Caliper: Like no. 235, with a spring hinge used to take outside measurements. Properly belongs to the group of calipers on plate 13. (pg. 48).

Plate 31: Wire drawing Plates
wire drawing plates
Tools 331 to 337
Drawing plates were of hardened steel, pierced with tapered holes decreasing in size, through which wire of a desired section could be drawn to the required diameter. The plates shown here were more applicable to casemakers' use rather than watchmakers', as gold and silver wires of different sections were drawn on a wire-drawing bench using these plates. Pinion wire, from which clock and watch pinions were cut, was also drawn using plates of this kind with holes of pinion section, but no pinion plates are shown either in this catalogue or those of FWB [Ford, Whitmore and Brunton of Birmingham] or Stubs, as pinion wire drawing was a specialized trade, not undertaken by repairers.
The diminishing sizes of holes were used progressively in the plate, and each hole was of tapering section. On the drawbench the wire to be drawn was threaded into the largest hole, held firmly between pincers connected to a strong leather strap, and pulled through the plate by means of a capstan which wrapped the strap around its arbor. In later drawbenches the wheel was often geared down to provide greater power. The wire thus drawn was used for edge moldings on watchcase bands and bezels. To draw wire successfully it had to be annealed after several drawings to prevent it from becoming too hard and consequently snapping.
331. Various sizes of drawplates.
332-37. Different sections of holes available in the different plate sizes. (pg. 90).

Plate 33: Screw Plates, and Taps
screw plates and taps
Tools 338 to 345
Screw plates of hardened steel were used to form the threads of screws for clock and watch work. Each plate had threaded holes, in twos or threes, of diminishing sizes for different-sized screws. The action in making the thread was to squeeze the thread on the softer metal of which the screw was to be made. The tool was used by holding the wire to be screwed in a vise and turning the tool onto it by hand. Small screws could, however, be turned into the plate. The handle on each plate provided leverage and in some had a convenient loop for hanging the plate on a hook when not in use (for larger sizes, see PI. 34). A lubricant such as lard oil was essential in screw making. The letters labeling the holes on nos. 338-45 indicate increased hole size as the alphabet progresses.
Taps were for threading holes for screws in brass plates, etc., and the various sizes shown by letter correspond with the letter sizes on the screw plates in nos. 338-45. The taps have shanks which could be turned by pin tongs, or a hand vise for larger ones. Pitches and sizes of screw threads are now standardized. This was not the case in the eighteenth century, although Lancashire threads remained the same. Tap sizes A, B, and C are shown but not labeled on screw plates nos. 338-41. (pg. 94).

Also see our information file on clockmaking to see an illustration of a clockmaker's lathe.

Dane, E. Surry. Peter Stubs and the Lancashire Hand Tool Industry.
Kelleher, Tom. Nuts and bolts. [Stubs screwplate]
Wyke, John. A catalogue of tools for watch and clock makers.

Peter Stubs Ltd. The company is still in business, it went out of the file manufacturing business in the 1990s.
Peter Stubs geneaology
Manchester City Council Business Archives
  • "Peter Stubs was in business manufacturing files on a small scale by 1777. By 1788 he had acquired the White Bear Inn in Bridge Street, Warrington, and was combining file manufacture there with his business as an innkeeper, brewer and malt maker. He gave up the White Bear concerns in 1803. In 1802 the file business moved to a larger site at Scotland Road, in the Cockhedge area of Warrington, where a works including file cutting shops and forging shops had been built. After Peter Stubs' death in 1806 the business was developed by his sons, John, William and Joseph Stubs. The company remained in private hands until the 1960s"
  • "The firm sold files made from steel - principally saw-files, watch and clock files and, from 1815, larger machinery (engineers') files. It also sold a wide variety of other tools, clock engines, small machines and wire, including pinion wire, for making toothed wheels for watches and clocks, and steel wire. The Stubs workshop produced files, carrying out the basic processes of forging, cutting and hardening, and all the attendant subsidiary processes. By 1841 the file works had a work force of 200. To cope with demand, some file cutting was done by out-workers. All the other Stubs products were made by cottage industry out-workers and small firms, mainly in South-West Lancashire."

Tools made by Peter S. Stubs in the Museum collection.