Henry Maudslay
Henry Maudslay (22 August 1771 – 14 February 1831) was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 machine tool
Machine tool
A machine tool is a machine, typically powered other than by human muscle , used to make manufactured parts in various ways that include cutting or certain other kinds of deformation...

 innovator, tool and die maker
Tool and die maker
Tool and die makers are workers in the manufacturing industry who make jigs, fixtures, dies, molds, machine tools, cutting tools , gauges, and other tools used in manufacturing processes...

, and inventor. He is considered a founding father of machine tool technology.

Early life

Maudslay's father, also named Henry, served as a wheelwright
A wheelwright is a person who builds or repairs wheels. The word is the combination of "wheel" and the archaic word "wright", which comes from the Old English word "wryhta", meaning a worker or maker...

 in the Royal Engineers
Royal Engineers
The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers , and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army....

. After being wounded in action he became a storekeeper at the Royal Arsenal
Royal Arsenal
The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, originally known as the Woolwich Warren, carried out armaments manufacture, ammunition proofing and explosives research for the British armed forces. It was sited on the south bank of the River Thames in Woolwich in south-east London, England.-Early history:The Warren...

, Woolwich
Woolwich is a district in south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.Woolwich formed part of Kent until 1889 when the County of London was created...

, London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. There he married a young widow, Margaret Laundy and they had seven children, among which young Henry was the fifth. Henry’s father died in 1780. Henry began filling cartridges
Cartridge (firearms)
A cartridge, also called a round, packages the bullet, gunpowder and primer into a single metallic case precisely made to fit the firing chamber of a firearm. The primer is a small charge of impact-sensitive chemical that may be located at the center of the case head or at its rim . Electrically...

 at the Arsenal when he was twelve. After two years, he was transferred to a carpenter’s shop followed by a blacksmith’s forge, where at the age of fifteen he began training as a blacksmith. He seems to have specialised in the lighter, more complex kind of forge work.

Bramah lock

Maudslay acquired such a good reputation for his skill that Joseph Bramah
Joseph Bramah
Joseph Bramah , born Stainborough Lane Farm, Wentworth, Yorkshire, England, was an inventor and locksmith. He is best known for having invented the hydraulic press...

 (the inventor of the hydraulic press
Hydraulic press
A hydraulic is a machine using a hydraulic cylinder to generate a compressive force. It uses the hydraulic equivalenta mechanical lever, and was also known as a Bramah press after the inventor, Joseph Bramah, of England. He invented and was issued a patent on this press in 1795...

) called for his services. Bramah had recently designed and patented an improved type of lock based on the tumbler principle, but was having difficulty manufacturing the complex lock at an economic price. Having sent for Maudslay on the recommendation of one of his employees, Bramah was surprised to discover that he was only eighteen, but Maudslay demonstrated his ability and started work at Bramah’s workshop in Denmark Street
Denmark Street
Denmark Street is a short narrow road in central London, notable for its connections with British popular music, and is known as the British Tin Pan Alley. The road connects Charing Cross Road at its western end with St Giles High Street at its eastern end. Denmark Street is in the London Borough...

, St Giles. It was Maudslay who built the lock that was displayed in Bramah’s shop window with a notice offering a reward of 200 guinea
Guinea , officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures...

s to anyone who could pick it. It resisted all efforts for forty-seven years. Maudslay designed and made a set of special tools and machines that allowed the lock to be made at an economic price.

Hydraulic press

Bramah had designed a hydraulic press, but was having problems sealing both the piston and the piston rod where it fitted into the cylinder. The usual method was hemp packing but the pressures were too high for this to work. Maudslay came up with the idea of a leather cup washer, which gave a perfect seal but offered no resistance to movement when the pressure was released. The new hydraulic press worked perfectly thereafter. But Maudslay, who had made a major contribution to its success, received little credit for it.

Slide-rest lathe

At the time when Maudslay began working for Bramah, the typical lathe was worked by a treadle and the workman held the cutting tool against the work. This did not allow for precision, especially in cutting iron. Maudslay designed a tool holder into which the cutting tool would be clamped, and which would slide on accurately planed surfaces to allow the cutting tool to move in either direction. This meant that machine components could be turned out reproducibly and precisely. Maudslay’s slide-rest lathe revolutionised the production of machine components.

Promotion and marriage

Maudslay had shown himself to be so talented that he was soon made manager of Bramah’s workshop. In 1791 he married Bramah’s housemaid, Sarah Tindel. The couple were to have four sons together. Thomas Henry, the eldest, and Joseph, the youngest, subsequently joined their father in business. William, the second, became a civil engineer, being one of the founders of the Institute of Civil Engineers.

In 1797, after having worked for Bramah for eight years, Maudslay asked for an increase in his wage of only 30s a week. Bramah refused his request. This refusal determined Maudslay to set up business on his own account.

His own business

Maudslay obtained a small shop and smithy in Wells Street, off Oxford Street. In 1800, Maudslay moved to larger premises in Margaret Street, Cavendish Square.

Following earlier work by Samuel Bentham
Samuel Bentham
Sir Samuel Bentham was a noted English mechanical engineer and naval architect credited with numerous innovations, particularly related to naval architecture, including weapons...

, his first major commission was to build a series of 42 woodworking machines to produce wooden rigging blocks (each ship required thousands) for the Navy under Sir Marc Isambard Brunel
Marc Isambard Brunel
Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, FRS FRSE was a French-born engineer who settled in England. He preferred the name Isambard, but is generally known to history as Marc to avoid confusion with his more famous son Isambard Kingdom Brunel...

. The machines were installed in the purpose-built Portsmouth Block Mills
Portsmouth Block Mills
The Portsmouth Block Mills form part of the Portsmouth Dockyard at Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, and were built during the Napoleonic Wars to supply the British Royal Navy with pulley blocks. They started the age of mass-production using all-metal machine tools and are regarded as one of the...

, which still survive, including some of the original machinery. The machines were capable of making 130,000 ships’ blocks a year, needing only ten unskilled men to operate them compared with the 110 skilled workers needed before their installation. This was the first well-known example of specialized machinery, used for machining in an assembly-line type factory.

Screw cutting

Maudslay also developed the first industrially practical screw-cutting lathe
Screw-cutting lathe
A screw-cutting lathe is a machine capable of cutting very accurate screw threads via single-point screw-cutting, which is the process of guiding the linear motion of the tool bit in a precisely known ratio to the rotating motion of the workpiece...

 in 1800, allowing standardisation of screw thread
Screw thread
A screw thread, often shortened to thread, is a helical structure used to convert between rotational and linear movement or force. A screw thread is a ridge wrapped around a cylinder or cone in the form of a helix, with the former being called a straight thread and the latter called a tapered thread...

 sizes for the first time. This allowed the concept of interchangeability
Interchangeable parts
Interchangeable parts are parts that are, for practical purposes, identical. They are made to specifications that ensure that they are so nearly identical that they will fit into any device of the same type. One such part can freely replace another, without any custom fitting...

 (an idea that was already taking hold) to be practically applied to nuts and bolts. Before this, all nuts and bolts had had to be made as matching pairs only. This meant that when machines were disassembled, careful account had to be kept of the matching nuts and bolts in preparation for reassembly. Maudslay standardized the screw threads used in his workshop and produced sets of taps and dies that would make nuts and bolts consistently to those standards, so that any bolt of the appropriate size would fit any nut of the same size. This was a major advance in workshop technology.

Lathe design

Although Maudslay was not the first person to invent a slide-rest (as many writers have claimed), and may not have been the first inventor to combine a lead screw, slide-rest, and set of change gears all on one lathe (Jesse Ramsden
Jesse Ramsden
Jesse Ramsden FRSE was an English astronomical and scientific instrument maker.Ramsden was born at Salterhebble, Halifax, West Riding of Yorkshire, England. After serving his apprenticeship with a cloth-worker in Halifax, he went in 1755 to London, where in 1758 he was apprenticed to a...

 may have done that in 1775; evidence is scant), he is certainly the person who introduced to the rest of the world the winning three-part combination of lead screw, slide rest, and change gears, sparking a great advance in machine tools and in the engineering use of screw threads.

Maudslay invented the first bench micrometer
A micrometer , sometimes known as a micrometer screw gauge, is a device incorporating a calibrated screw used widely for precise measurement of small distances in mechanical engineering and machining as well as most mechanical trades, along with other metrological instruments such as dial, vernier,...

 capable of measuring to one ten-thousandth of an inch (0.0001 in ≈ 3 µm
A micrometer , is by definition 1×10-6 of a meter .In plain English, it means one-millionth of a meter . Its unit symbol in the International System of Units is μm...

). He called it the "Lord Chancellor", as it was used to settle any questions regarding accuracy of workmanship.

By 1810 Maudslay was employing eighty workers and was running out of room at his workshop, so he moved to larger premises in Westminster Road, Lambeth. Maudslay also recruited a promising young Admiralty draughtsman, Joshua Field
Joshua Field (engineer)
Joshua Field was a British civil engineer and mechanical engineer.Field was born in Hackney in 1786, his father was John Field a corn and seed merchant who was later to become Master of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors...

, who proved to be so talented that Maudslay took him into partnership. The company later became Maudslay, Sons & Field, when Maudslay’s sons became partners.

Marine engines

Maudslay’s Lambeth works began to specialize in the production of marine steam engine
Marine steam engine
A marine steam engine is a reciprocating steam engine that is used to power a ship or boat. Steam turbines and diesel engines largely replaced reciprocating steam engines in marine applications during the 20th century, so this article describes the more common types of marine steam engine in use...

s. The type of engine he used for ships was a side-lever design, in which a beam was mounted alongside the cylinder. This saved on height in the cramped engine rooms of steamers. His first marine engine was built in 1815, of 17 h.p., and fitted to a Thames steamer called Richmond. In 1823 a Maudslay engine powered the Lightning, the first steam-powered vessel to be commissioned by the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

. In 1829 a side-lever engine of 400 h.p. was completed for HMS Dee, and was the largest marine engine existing at that time.

The marine engine works became a partnership between Maudslay, his son Joseph, and Joshua Field
Joshua Field (engineer)
Joshua Field was a British civil engineer and mechanical engineer.Field was born in Hackney in 1786, his father was John Field a corn and seed merchant who was later to become Master of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors...

, as Maudslay, Sons and Field.

In 1838, after Maudslay's death, the Lambeth works supplied a 750 h.p. engine for Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, FRS , was a British civil engineer who built bridges and dockyards including the construction of the first major British railway, the Great Western Railway; a series of steamships, including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship; and numerous important bridges...

's famous SS Great Western
SS Great Western
SS Great Western of 1838, was an oak-hulled paddle-wheel steamship; the first purpose-built for crossing the Atlantic and the initial unit of the Great Western Steamship Company. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Great Western proved satisfactory in service and was the model for all successful...

, the first transatlantic steamship. They patented a double cylinder direct acting engine in 1839. They introduced some of the earliest screw propulsion units for ships, including that for the first Admiralty screw steamship, , in 1841. By 1850 the firm had supplied more than two hundred vessels with steam engines, though the firm's dominance was being challenged by John Penn
John Penn (engineer)
John Penn FRS, was a marine engineer, whose firm was pre-eminent in the middle of the nineteenth century due to his innovations in engine and propeller systems, which led his firm to be the major supplier to the Royal Navy as it made the transition from sail to steam power...

's trunk engine design.

Thames Tunnel

In 1825 Marc Isambard Brunel
Marc Isambard Brunel
Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, FRS FRSE was a French-born engineer who settled in England. He preferred the name Isambard, but is generally known to history as Marc to avoid confusion with his more famous son Isambard Kingdom Brunel...

 began work on the Thames Tunnel
Thames Tunnel
The Thames Tunnel is an underwater tunnel, built beneath the River Thames in London, United Kingdom, connecting Rotherhithe and Wapping. It measures 35 feet wide by 20 feet high and is 1,300 feet long, running at a depth of 75 feet below the river's surface...

, intended to link Rotherhithe
Rotherhithe is a residential district in inner southeast London, England and part of the London Borough of Southwark. It is located on a peninsula on the south bank of the Thames, facing Wapping and the Isle of Dogs on the north bank, and is a part of the Docklands area...

 with Wapping
Wapping is a place in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets which forms part of the Docklands to the east of the City of London. It is situated between the north bank of the River Thames and the ancient thoroughfare simply called The Highway...

. After many difficulties this was successfully completed in 1842, and was the first tunnel under the Thames. The tunnel would not have been possible without the innovative tunneling shield, designed by Marc Brunel and built by Maudslay Sons & Field at their Lambeth works. Maudslay also supplied the steam-driven pumps that were so important in keeping the tunnel workings dry.

Later life

At the end of his life Maudslay developed an interest in astronomy and began to construct a telescope. He intended to buy a house in Norwood and build a private observatory there, but he died before he was able to accomplish his plan. In January 1831 he caught a chill while crossing the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

. He was ill for four weeks and died on 15 February. He was buried in the churchyard of St Mary Magdalen Woolwich
St Mary Magdalen Woolwich
St Mary Magdalen Woolwich is an Anglican church dedicated to Mary Magdalen in Woolwich, sited at the extremity of a spur reaching northwards towards the Thames...

, and his memorial in its Lady Chapel was designed by himself.

Many outstanding engineers trained in his workshop including Richard Roberts
Richard Roberts (engineer)
Richard Roberts was a British engineer whose development of high-precision machine tools contributed to the birth of production engineering and mass production.-Early life:...

, David Napier
David Napier (automotive engineer)
This article is about the automotive and aero-engine manufacturer. For other people of the same name see David Napier David Napier was a Scottish engineer, notable for founding Napier & Son, an early automotive and aero-engine company.-Life:David Napier was born in Dumbarton to a family of ...

, Joseph Clement
Joseph Clement
Joseph Clement was a British engineer and industrialist, chiefly remembered as the maker of Charles Babbage's first Difference engine, between 1824 and 1833.-Early life:...

, Sir Joseph Whitworth
Joseph Whitworth
Sir Joseph Whitworth, 1st Baronet was an English engineer, entrepreneur, inventor and philanthropist. In 1841, he devised the British Standard Whitworth system, which created an accepted standard for screw threads...

, James Nasmyth
James Nasmyth
James Hall Nasmyth was a Scottish engineer and inventor famous for his development of the steam hammer. He was the co-founder of Nasmyth, Gaskell and Company manufacturers of machine tools...

 (inventor of the steam hammer
Steam hammer
A steam hammer is a power-driven hammer used to shape forgings. It consists of a hammer-like piston located within a cylinder. The hammer is raised by the pressure of steam injected into the lower part of a cylinder and falls down with a force by removing the steam. Usually, the hammer is made to...

), Joshua Field
Joshua Field (engineer)
Joshua Field was a British civil engineer and mechanical engineer.Field was born in Hackney in 1786, his father was John Field a corn and seed merchant who was later to become Master of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors...

 and William Muir.

Henry Maudslay played his part in the development of mechanical engineering, when it was in its infancy, but he was especially pioneering in the development of machine tools to be used in engineering workshops across the world.

Maudslay’s company was one of the most important British engineering manufactories of the nineteenth century, finally closing in 1904.

Pronunciation and spelling

Maudslay's surname is pronounced with a reduced /li/ terminal syllable (as typical of British pronunciation of such terminals, e.g., /li/, /lɪ/, /lɛ/). Many books have spelled his surname with an "e" as "Maudsley"; but this seems to be an error propagated via citation of earlier books containing the same error.

See also

  • Henry Maudsley
    Henry Maudsley
    Henry Maudsley was a pioneering British psychiatrist.-Biographical sketch:Henry Maudsley was born on an isolated farm near Giggleswick in the North Riding of Yorkshire and educated at University College London. He was an outstandingly brilliant medical student, collecting ten Gold Medals and...

    , another 19th-century Englishman, who was a notable psychiatrist
  • Maudslay Motor Company
    Maudslay Motor Company
    The Maudslay Motor Company was a British vehicle maker based in Coventry. It was founded in 1902 and continued until 1948 when it was taken over by the Associated Equipment Company and along with Crossley Motors the new group was renamed Associated Commercial Vehicles Ltd.-Early history:The...

    , founded by Walter H. Maudslay, great grandson of Henry Maudslay.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.