Henry Maudslay (1771-1831)

British engineer who set new standards of accuracy.

Having become a skilled workman at the Woolwich Arsenal, where his father was an artificer, Maudslay was apprenticed in early life to the famous lockmaker Bramah. He left at the age of 27 after a dispute with his employer, and set up as an independent engineer in Lambeth, London, where he was employed by Marc Brunel in the construction of machinery for making ships' blocks. These machines, installed at Portsmouth in 1808, were effective enough to reduce the amount of human labour required by a factor of eleven.

In 1807 Maudslay patented his 'table engine', a compact steam engine which remained in use for many years. Around this time he also took out patents on calico printing techniques.

In 1810 he moved to Westminster Bridge Road, and in the following period worked largely on marine engines of increasing quality. His apprentices included Richard Roberts, Joseph Whitworth and James Nasmyth. With the help of his apprentices Maudslay also introduced an accurate measuring device and the screw-cutting lathe.