Whitworth lathe, made in Manchester, 1833-1950.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Joseph Whitworth (1803-1887) was one of the most important machine tool-makers of his time. Working at a time when the manufacture of machine tool-building was for the first time being seen as a distinct profesion, Whitworth's succes was in part down to a combination of technical expertise and personal ambition. Having worked for Henry Maudslay (1771-1831) and Joseph Clement in London, he set up busines independently in Manchester. By the early 1850s he had become a leader in the British machine tool trade, and travelled to the USA to study developments in small arms manufacture. Later, he was largely absorbed in improving small arms and artillery production.