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Henry Hindley

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‎‎Henry Hindley (1700?–1771), clockmaker and engineer


c1700 He was probably born in or near Manchester

1731 Already married to his wife, Sarah, he had moved to York by 1731 and was admitted to the freedom of the city on the presentation of two clocks, now in the Mansion House and the Guildhall at York. He soon established himself as a maker of domestic and turret clocks, all his early pieces having dead-beat escapements.

1741 Henry Hindley was an early maker of machine tools. John Smeaton was shown an engine for both cutting the teeth of clock wheels and dividing angular scales. Smeaton's description establishes that, as early as 1741, Hindley's workshop contained not only the wheel-cutting and dividing engine but a great lathe capable of turning pieces over 2½ feet in diameter and a chock (chuck) lathe with a lead-screw and change-wheels. There was a pressing need for ever more accurate angular scales, in the fields of navigation, surveying, and astronomy. A brief account of Hindley's work in this area, and the chronology of developments, is given by McConnell [1]

1742 Hindley's son, Joseph Hindley, having been apprenticed to his father in 1742 at the age of twenty was active in the family business.

In 1750 Henry received an order for a new turret clock for York Minster

1762 His Elizabeth died

1763 His wife Sarah died

1771 He died at York on 23 March 1771

1774 His son Joseph died 4 March 1774

Hindley's Cutting Engine

Hindley’s Cutting Engine was described at length by Rees, c.1808 [2]. The principle follows that of established gear cutting machines used by watch and clock makers, having the gear blank mounted on an arbor, with a circular division plate attached to the other end of the arbor. The teeth were cut by a circular saw driven by a cord from a treadle. Hindley’s machine was evidently very accurate, and appears to represent an advance by allowing any number of divisions or teeth to be cut, beyond the number of holes provided on the division plate. The sub-divisions were established by moving the index or 'detent' incrementally using a micrometer screw. A micrometer dial was also provided on the leadscrew used to position the frame holding the cutter’s spindle, thus enabling the depth of cut to be precisely adjusted.

Screwcutting Lathe

W. Steeds wrote[3] that the earliest reference to a lathe with a geared leadscrew appears in a Paper presented to the Royal Society by John Smeaton. Smeaton stated that he had first met Henry Hindley in 1741 and saw his screwcutting lathe at that time, and that he '... showed me how, by means of a single screw on his lathe he could cut, by means of wheel-work, screws of every necessary degree of fineness (and, by taking out a wheel, could cut a left-handed screw of the very same degree of fineness.)'. Smeaton also wrote about the lathe and gear cutting machine in his published reports[4]

Hindley's 'Hourglass' Wormgear

Hindley produced an improved type of worm gear of the hourglass type.[5]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] 'Jesse Ramsden (1735 - 1800) - London's Leading Scientific Instrument Maker' by Anita McConnell, Ashgate Publishing, 2007, p.40
  2. 'Rees's Manufacturing Industry (1819-20)' Volume 2, pp.233-242. This is a large selection of articles from Abraham Rees's 'The Cyclopaedia; or Universal Directory of Arts, Sciences and Literature', edited by Neil Cossons and published in 1972 by David & Charles Reprints
  3. 'A History of Machine Tools1700-1810' by W. Steeds, Oxford University Press, 1969
  4. [2] 'Reports of the Late John Smeaton, Volume 4', by John Smeaton, first published 1814
  5. [3] Polytechnischen Journal, 1898: Metallbearbeitung. Die Schneckengetriebe und die Maschinen zur Herstellung derselben. Von Prof. Pregél in Chemnitz. Mit Abbildungen. Die Schneckengetriebe.