Making a Spectacle

The spectacle-making machinery at the Algha Spectacle Works in London's East End was imported from Germany in 1932 by proprietor Max Wiseman. He also imported the German staff to get the business off to a flying start. There's German efficiency. The machinery is still in operation and the company is still creating classic styles of spectacles with acetate and rolled gold frames in London.

Made in London since 1932
Algha's Round Eye was made famous by John Lennon, I think. He certainly wore round frames. And I'm sure he would have been happy to wear these exquisitely fine 'rounders'.

Algha sell their spectacles direct through the trade name Savile Row Eyewear.  The prices appear to be in dollars from this site. It seems like our American cousins are doing their bit in supporting this important British institution.

Encouragingly, also, the Algha for Cubitts Gold frame is available to order through Cubitts St James's. Cubitts say: 'Using Algha's classic archive of shapes each frame goes through over 120 meticulous processes to produce the finished article. Choose from 89,000 combinations - with multiple eye shapes, bridge types and temples, with an optional filigree or Windsor Rim.'

Savile Row Eyewear have two main collections: Classic and Combination. Classic has the rolled gold frames and Combination has frames made from acetate, rolled gold or a combination of both. The Combination collection is then split between Modern and Contemporary ranges, which sound like the same thing though the models are different.

Let's select a few frames for you.
Accessorise with a bullwhip
The Beaufort Panto frame was worn by Indiana Jones. The frame is made from rolled gold finished in 18Kt gold or rhodium, with a slim acetate cover around the heart-shaped lenses. The frames are notable for their cable temples that wrap around the ear. The go-to choice for an archaeological dig that will have lots of dramatic twists. Accessorise with a bullwhip. If it's a sunny destination, Savile Row Eyewear also supply sun-clips for the Beaufort Panto. This is good. I've got an inordinate amount of use out of the clips I bought for my Tom Ripley glasses.

Swapping Lies
From the Modern collection, we have the Drury. With its theatrical name, wouldn't it be nice to wear this frame for a performance at the Theatre Royal in London's Drury Lane? The theatre site has been visited by every British monarch since the Restoration. I had a look at the current shows, but there's absolutely nothing I would recommend. Nothing. Certainly no Restoration comedies or anything to get your teeth into. Sheridan's The School for Scandal was first performed at Drury Lane, so let's wait for a revival to enjoy those splendid characters 'swapping lies'.

Enjoy with half a mild
Finally, we have the Kings, made in a choice of acetate colours with gold temples. A good all-rounder and a frame you might consider wearing for a lunchtime half of mild in The Mayflower in Rotherhithe. As the pub is licensed to sell US stamps, why not write a postcard to someone over the pond? Tell them about your new spectacles.

Our anaemic capital
Beautiful spectacles, I'm sure you will agree, and made by a company with a great design history and manufacturing heritage. But a fly has recently dive-bombed straight into the old ointment. Talk is afoot that the factory is under threat from closure. London developers are conspiring to suck a little more lifeblood out of our anaemic capital. The 1920s factory building is under threat of closure. It might be turned into a 'luxury residence' — yet another vehicle for overseas 'investors' to disperse their loot. If you value well-made spectacles and not making London a complete playground for speculators, you can object here

Spread the word. The more we can support the Algha Works, the more chance it has of retaining the skills and machinery to produce the high quality specs we appreciate.


  1. Tweedy I must thank you for this post. I’d seen this brand in my local optician while having an eye test. I hadn’t paid them much heed as I’ve always been a bit suspicious of things with Savile Row written on them which don’t seem to have an obvious connection. I sort of style by association thing.
    I’m very glad you drew my attention to them and I gave them a proper look.
    I’m now sporting pair of Panto’s with chestnut rims and chuffed to bits with them.
    It’s great to find things made in the country which you wouldn’t normally think of.
    Thank you again.

    1. Hello Ross. The smaller UK companies tend to hold back on robustly marketing their heritage and the quality of their products. Maybe it's cultural. This is where I hope to help. Enjoy the glasses! Best wishes, Tweedy


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