'Introduction of the Slide Principle', by James Nasmyth, 1841.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The slide rest lathe, first sued by by Henry Maudslay (1771-1831), allowed the turning of large pieces of metal quickly and precisely, and was regarded as one of the most important developments in machine tool manufacturing. James Nasmyth (1808-1890) worked in Maudslay's London machine-shop before going on to establish the Bridgewater Foundry at Patricroft, Greater Manchester, in 1836. His steam hammer, patented in 1842, took the human effort out of the proces of forging wrought iron and steel to form engine and machine parts. Nasmyth also invented a steam pile driver, a planing machine and a hydraulic punching machine.