Boring mill from Wilkinson's iron works, Bersham, Wales, 1775.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Model (scale 1:12). This boring mill was built by John Wilkinson (1728-1808) at his ironworks near Chester in 1775 and it was here that he developed his revolutionary proces for boring cylinders from solid cast metal with extreme accuracy. A water wheel at the centre of the mill provided the motive power, while cylinders can be seen being bored at either side of the wheel. Wilkinson's skill at boring was first used in the manufacture of cannon (at a different mill) and later led to his becoming the main supplier of cylinders for Watts' steam engines. Wilkinson's engineering and entrepreneurial skills eventually gained him a huge network of iron works at Brosely, Smedshill and Hedley and made him a wealthy man. Bersham Ironworks closed in 1812.