'A Steam Hammer at Work', 1871.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Oil painting by James Nasmyth (1808-1890), engineer and inventor of the steam hammer (invented in 1839; first demonstrated in 1845). The steam hammer took the human effort out of the process of forging wrought iron and steel to form engine and machine parts. Nasmyth had worked in the London machine-shop of Henry Maudslay, perhaps the greatest influence on the improvement of mechanical practice in the early 19th century. Later he founded his own Bridgewater Foundry at Patricroft, between Liverpool and Manchester.