Nasmyth and his steam hammer, c 1845.
© NMeM / Kodak Collection / Science & Society
A photograph of James Nasmyth (1808-1890) with his steam hammer, taken by Captain Lewis, probably of the Royal Engineers, in about 1845. A succesful engineer based in Manchester, Nasmyth was approached in 1837 by the Great Western Steam Company. They needed a machine tool, a steam hammer, to help make the engines for the steamship 'Great Britain'. Nothing at the time was strong or precise enough, but Nasmyth's design for a giant steam hammer could both forge the iron plates for a warship or hammer in a nail.