How One London Factory Powered the Industrial Revolution and Shaped the Modern World
About This Book
‘With wit, assurance and dexterity, Iron Men captures the ingenuity, determination and defiance of a small group of Britons whose inventions made their country the epicentre of technology. The early nineteenth-century inventors, who created the automatic spinning mule, devised the micrometer, standardized the manufacturing of screws and bolts and concocted the steam engine, had an influence as widespread as that enjoyed today by companies in Silicon Valley and China. David Waller has composed an absorbing tale of man's ability to create a lot from a little.’ —Sir Michael Moritz, Chairman, Sequoia Capital
'[David Waller] concentrates on London’s role in the industrial revolution and machine tool inventor Henry Maudslay, one of its linchpins. … He shows how Maudslay’s factory in Lambeth, established in 1810, inspired and informed a generation of engineers and enabled the industrial revolution by standardising parts and creating reliable machines to make them.' —The Financial Times
'David Waller has done us a great favour in highlighting Maudslay’s boundless creativity and energy and reveals him as the mentor and inspiration to a generation of talented engineers who changed the world.'—Lord Norman Foster
'Our image of the industrial revolution is dominated by the North and the Midlands. … But as … David Waller argues, the really pioneering work was done in London. Waller describes the work of Henry Maudslay, who opened a factory in Lambeth in 1810.' —The Telegraph
'One of the best books on engineering history to be published in many a moon'. —Nick Smith, Engineering & Technology magazine
In the early nineteenth century, Henry Maudslay, an engineer from a humble background, opened a factory in Westminster Bridge Road, Lambeth, a stone’s throw from the Thames. Maudslay invented precision engineering, which made the industrial revolution possible, helping Great Britain become the workshop of the world.
He developed mass production, interchangeable components, and built the world’s first all-metal machine tools, which quite literally shaped the modern world. Without his inventions, there would have been no railways, no steam-ship industry and no mechanised textiles industry.
His factory became the pre-Victorian equivalent of Google and Apple combined, attracting the best in engineering talent. The people who worked left to set up their own businesses. These included Joseph Clement, who constructed the Difference Engine, the world’s first computer, and Joseph Whitworth, who moved to Manchester and by the time of the Great Exhibition in 1851 was deemed the world’s foremost mechanical engineer.
David Waller is an author, business consultant and former Financial Times journalist specialising in business and the nineteenth century.
Table of Contents
Preface: The Queen and the Machines; 1. Building Blocks and Boring Machines – The Portsmouth Block Factory; 2. Maudslays – The Most Complete Factory in the Kingdom; 3. The Maudslay Men; 4. A Wonderful Undertaking – The Thames Tunnel; 5. Richard Roberts and the Iron Man of Manchester; 6. Charles Babbage, Joseph Clement, and the Mechanization of Thought; 7. The True Birth of the Railways; 8. James Hall Nasmyth – The Steam-Hammer and Entrepreneurial Triumph in Manchester; 9. The Maudslay Men and the Transport Revolution; 10.The Turn of the Screws – Sir Joseph Whitworth and the Quest for Mechanical Perfection; 11. The Great Lock Controversy of 1851; 12. Capital vs Labour: The Great Lock-Out of 1852; 13. Instruments of Destruction; 14. Endings and Legacies