Portsmouth block-making machinery, 1819.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This machine was used for making ship's pulley blocks. It was designed by Marc Isambard Brunel (1769-1849) and made by Henry Maudslay (1771-1831). Manufacture of the blocks previously involved over twenty separate operations and was very labour intensive. Brunel's design enabled a series of machines to perform these operations without the need for skilled labour, apart from that needed to move the pieces and place them in the machines.