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MAKING THE MODERN WORLD
Stories about the lives we've made

story:Machinery in motion

scene:Machinery in motion

During the Industrial Revolution new machines were developed to cut brass, steel and iron into accurate shapes.


Shaping machine for manufacturing pulley blocks, 1804. This machine is part of the blockmaking machinery constructed by Henry Maudslay for Portsmouth dockyard. picture zoom © Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

A whole network of engineers and machine-builders developed to provide these ‘machine tools’ to industry. They could produce everything from clocks and watches to steam engines and other machine tools.


James Nasmyth’s first drawing of a steam hammer, 24 November 1839. He claimed to be the inventor of the steam hammer, although this is disputed. Nasmyth sold steam hammers across the globe, renamed his retirement home ‘Hammerfield’ and even incorporated it into his family coat of arms. picture zoom © Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

In doing so they pioneered new designs, materials and techniques that revolutionised engineering practice and introduced levels of accuracy of which previous generations of engineers could only have dreamed.

Here we will look at the development of machine tools – truly ‘machines for building machines’.

Resource Descriptions

Shaping machine for manufacturing pulley blocks, 1804. This machine is part of the blockmaking machinery constructed by Henry Maudslay for Portsmouth dockyard.
James Nasmyth’s first drawing of a steam hammer, 24 November 1839. He claimed to be the inventor of the steam hammer, although this is disputed. Nasmyth sold steam hammers across the globe, renamed his retirement home ‘Hammerfield’ and even incorporated it into his family coat of arms.
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