How One London Factory Powered the Industrial Revolution and Shaped the Modern World
The remarkable story of Henry Maudslay – the ambitious engineering innovator who made the Industrial Revolution possible
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.
‘One of the best books on engineering history to be published in many a moon’. —Nick Smith, Engineering & Technology magazine
‘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
‘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