Maudslay, Henry

Maudslay, Henry
b. 22 August 1771 Woolwich, Kent, England
d. 15 February 1831 Lambeth, London, England
English precision toolmaker and engineer.
Henry Maudslay was the third son of an ex-soldier and storekeeper at Woolwich Arsenal. At the age of 12 he was employed at the Arsenal filling cartridges; two years later he was transferred to the woodworking department, adjacent to the smithy, to which he moved when 15 years old. He was a rapid learner, and three years later Joseph Bramah took him on for the construction of special tools required for the mass-production of his locks. Maudslay was thus employed for the next eight years. He became Bramah's foreman, married his housekeeper, Sarah Tindale, and, unable to better himself, decided to leave and set up on his own. He soon outgrew his first premises in Wells Street and moved to Margaret Street, off Oxford Street, where some examples of his workmanship were displayed in the window. These caught the attention of a visiting Frenchman, de Bacquancourt; he was a friend of Marc Isambard Brunel, who was then in the early stages of designing the block-making machinery later installed at Portsmouth dockyard.
Brunel wanted first a set of working models, as he did not think that the Lords of the Admiralty would be capable of understanding engineering drawings; Maudslay made these for him within the next two years. Sir Samuel Bentham, Inspector-General of Naval Works, agreed that Brunel's system was superior to the one that he had gone some way in developing; the Admiralty approved, and an order was placed for the complete plant. The manufacture of the machinery occupied Maudslay for the next six years; he was assisted by a draughtsman whom he took on from Portsmouth dockyard, Joshua Field (1786–1863), who became his partner in Maudslay, Son and Field. There were as many as eighty employees at Margaret Street until, in 1810, larger premises became necessary and a new works was built at Lambeth Marsh where, eventually, there were up to two hundred workers. The new factory was flanked by two houses, one of which was occupied by Maudslay, the other by Field. The firm became noted for its production of marine steam-engines, notably Maudslay's table engine which was first introduced in 1807.
Maudslay was a consummate craftsman who was never happier than when working at his bench or at a machine tool; he was also one of the first engineers to appreciate the virtues of standardization. Evidence of this appreciation is to be found in his work in the development of the Bramah lock and then on the machine tools for the manufacture of ship's blocks to Marc Brunel's designs; possibly his most important contribution was the invention in 1797 of the metal lathe. He made a number of surface plates of the finest quality. The most celebrated of his numerous measuring devices was a micrometer-based machine which he termed his "Lord Chancellor" because, in the machine shop, it represented the "final court of appeal", measuring to one-thousandth of an inch.
Further Reading
1934–5, "Maudslay, Sons \& Field as general engineers", Transactions of the Newcomen Society 15, London.
1963, Engineering Heritage, Vol. 1, London: Institution of Mechanical Engineers. L.T.C.Rolt, 1965, Tools for the Job, London: Batsford.
W.Steeds, 1969, A History of Machine Tools 1700–1910, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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  • Maudslay, Henry — born Aug. 22, 1771, Woolwich, Kent, Eng. died Feb. 14, 1831, London British engineer and inventor. The son of a workman, he became the inventor of machines fundamentally important to the Industrial Revolution, most outstandingly the metal lathe.… …   Universalium

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  • henry — ► sustantivo masculino ELECTRICIDAD Denominación del henrio en la nomenclatura internacional. IRREG. plural henrys * * * henrio o henry (de J. Henry, físico inglés) m. Fís. Unidad de inductancia eléctrica en el Sistema Internacional. * * * henry …   Enciclopedia Universal

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