'James Nasmyth', Scottish mechanical engineer and inventor, c 1840s.
© NMeM / Royal Photographic Society / Science & Society Picture Library
James Nasmyth (1808-1890) worked in the London machine-shop of Henry Maudslay (1771-1831). He was probably the greatest influence on mechanical engineering practice in the early 19th century, before going on to establish the Bridgewater Foundry at Patricroft, Greater Manchester, in 1836. His popular steam hammer, patented in 1842, took the human effort out of the process of forging wrought iron and steel to form engine and machine parts. Amongst his other inventions were a steam pile driver, a planing machine and a hydraulic punching machine.