Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 143,344 pages of information and 230,023 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Henry Maudslay: Machine Tools

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c.1800 screwcutting lathe by Henry Maudslay, displayed at the Science Museum
Maudslay lathe formerly displayed at Thinktank, Birmingham
Lathe at Lambeth Works, 1900 (Engineering, 18 January 1901)
Lathe at Lambeth Works, 1900
Large lathe at Lambeth Works, 1900
Large lathe at Lambeth Works, 1900
Ball turning lathe, and part of lapping machine, at Lambeth Works, 1900
Boring and facing machine at Lambeth Works, 1900
Shaping machine at Lambeth Works, 1900
Boring machine at Lambeth Works, 1900
Bevel gear cutting machine at Lambeth Works, 1900

Note: This is a sub-section of Henry Maudslay.

Henry Maudslay was the most influential machine tool maker at the end of the 18th and start of the 19th centuries.

It is intended in this section to identify as many of his machine tools as possible. He became famous for the blockmaking machinery at Portsmouth Block Mills, and for his lathes, which spearheaded the industrial application of slide lathes and machine screwcutting.

His first known machine tools were produced for lockmaking, during his employment with Joseph Bramah.

Maudslay's Lambeth workshop became a 'nursery' for many men who would become famous engineers in their own right, and who would advance machine tool technology to its next phase, with machines of heavier construction and greater versatility.

Maudslay's best-known lathes featured triangular bar beds. Latter-day owners of similar lathes might hope that their's is a Maudslay. It is unlikely to be. Many other makers produced similar lathes, but Maudslay's have distinctive design features, and display fine workmanship. The earliest known example of a lathe with a triangular bar bed was made by Henry Hindley before 1758.

Examples of Maudslay lathes can be seen in a number of museums. This c.1805 example in Australia, originally owned by Sir John Barton, is ascribed to Maudslay, Sons & Field. However, while the slide rest is fully consistent with Maudslay's design and construction, some other keys aspects, primarily the headstock and tailstock, are not Maudslay-like.

The Henry Ford Museum in the USA has two examples. One has a two-bar bed and a central leadscrew. Unusually, the carriage is held down by rollers pressing on the underside of the slideways. The lathe was gifted to the Ford Museum by Sir W. G. Armstrong, Whitworth and Co. Photographs here.

The London Science Museum has a Maudslay treadle lathe, currently not on display. Photo here and here.

Machines Photographed Following Closure of Lambeth Works in 1900.

Staff from 'Engineering' magazine visited the works when its contents were about to be sold off, and reported on their findings[1]. Many of the machine tool photographs are reproduced here. Their inclusion does not necessarily imply that Henry Maudslay was involved in their design, although all the machines illustrated do have some Maudslayian features.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 'Engineering' 18 January 1901