Whitworth, Sir Joseph

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b. 21 December 1803 Stockport, Cheshire, England
d. 22 January 1887 Monte Carlo, Monaco
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English mechanical engineer and pioneer of precision measurement.
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Joseph Whitworth received his early education in a school kept by his father, but from the age of 12 he attended a school near Leeds. At 14 he joined his uncle's mill near Ambergate, Derbyshire, to learn the business of cotton spinning. In the four years he spent there he realized that he was more interested in the machinery than in managing a cotton mill. In 1821 he obtained employment as a mechanic with Crighton \& Co., Manchester. In 1825 he moved to London and worked for Henry Maudslay and later for the Holtzapffels and Joseph Clement. After these years spent gaining experience, he returned to Manchester in 1833 and set up in a small workshop under a sign "Joseph Whitworth, Tool Maker, from London".
The business expanded steadily and the firm made machine tools of all types and other engineering products including steam engines. From 1834 Whitworth obtained many patents in the fields of machine tools, textile and knitting machinery and road-sweeping machines. By 1851 the company was generally regarded as the leading manufacturer of machine tools in the country. Whitworth was a pioneer of precise measurement and demonstrated the fundamental mode of producing a true plane by making surface plates in sets of three. He advocated the use of the decimal system and made use of limit gauges, and he established a standard screw thread which was adopted as the national standard. In 1853 Whitworth visited America as a member of a Royal Commission and reported on American industry. At the time of the Crimean War in 1854 he was asked to provide machinery for manufacturing rifles and this led him to design an improved rifle of his own. Although tests in 1857 showed this to be much superior to all others, it was not adopted by the War Office. Whitworth's experiments with small arms led on to the construction of big guns and projectiles. To improve the quality of the steel used for these guns, he subjected the molten metal to pressure during its solidification, this fluid-compressed steel being then known as "Whitworth steel".
In 1868 Whitworth established thirty annual scholarships for engineering students. After his death his executors permanently endowed the Whitworth Scholarships and distributed his estate of nearly half a million pounds to various educational and charitable institutions. Whitworth was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1841 and a Member in 1848 and served on its Council for many years. He was elected a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1847, the year of its foundation.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Baronet 1869. FRS 1857. President, Institution of Mechanical Engineers 1856, 1857 and 1866. Hon. LLD Trinity College, Dublin, 1863. Hon. DCL Oxford University 1868. Member of the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers 1864. Légion d'honneur 1868. Society of Arts Albert Medal 1868.
Bibliography
1858, Miscellaneous Papers on Mechanical Subjects, London; 1873, Miscellaneous Papers on Practical Subjects: Guns and Steel, London (both are collections of his papers to technical societies).
1854, with G.Wallis, The Industry of the United States in Machinery, Manufactures, and
Useful and Ornamental Arts, London.
Further Reading
F.C.Lea, 1946, A Pioneer of Mechanical Engineering: Sir Joseph Whitworth, London (a short biographical account).
A.E.Musson, 1963, "Joseph Whitworth: toolmaker and manufacturer", Engineering Heritage, Vol. 1, London, 124–9 (a short biography).
D.J.Jeremy (ed.), 1984–6, Dictionary of Business Biography, Vol. 5, London, 797–802 (a short biography).
W.Steeds, 1969, A History of Machine Tools 1700–1910, Oxford (describes Whitworth's machine tools).
RTS

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Whitworth, Sir Joseph — born Dec. 21, 1803, Stockport, Cheshire, Eng. died Jan. 22, 1887, Monte Carlo, Monaco British mechanical engineer. Working for Henry Maudslay, he devised a scraping technique for making a true plane surface. He followed this with a measuring… …   Universalium

  • Whitworth, Sir Joseph — (21 dic. 1803, Stockport, Cheshire, Inglaterra–22 ene. 1887, Montecarlo, Mónaco). Ingeniero mecánico británico. Trabajando para Henry Maudslay ideó una técnica de raspado para hacer una superficie realmente plana. Siguió con una máquina medidora… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • WHITWORTH, SIR JOSEPH —    eminent mechanician, born at Stockport; the rival of Lord Armstrong in the invention of ordnance; invented artillery of great range and accuracy; was made a baronet in 1869 (1803 1887) …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Whitworth, Sir Joseph, Baronet — ▪ British engineer born Dec. 21, 1803, Stockport, Cheshire, Eng. died Jan. 22, 1887, Monte Carlo  English mechanical engineer who won international recognition as a machine toolmaker.       After working as a mechanic for various Manchester… …   Universalium

  • Joseph Whitworth — Joseph Whitworth. Sir Joseph Whitworth (21 diciembre de 1803 – 22 de enero de 1887) fue un ingeniero y emprendedor inglés. Fue el creador del rifle Whitworth. Biografía Whitworth nació en Stockport, hijo de Charles Whitworth, profesoy y cura… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Whitworth [2] — Whitworth, Sir Joseph, Mechaniker, geb. 1803 in Stockport, gest. 22. Jan. 1887 in Monte Carlo, arbeitete seit seinem 14. Lebensjahr in Fabriken und gründete 1833 eine kleine Werkzeug und Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik in Manchester, die durch ihre… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Whitworth [2] — Whitworth, Sir Joseph, engl. Mechaniker, geb. 21. Dez. 1803 zu Stockport, Fabrikbesitzer in Manchester, gest. 22. Jan. 1887 in Monte Carlo; Erfinder mehrerer Werkzeugmaschinen, eines Gewindesystems für Schrauben und der vorübergehend in England… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • sir — /serr/, n. 1. a respectful or formal term of address used to a man: No, sir. 2. (cap.) the distinctive title of a knight or baronet: Sir Walter Scott. 3. (cap.) a title of respect for some notable personage of ancient times: Sir Pandarus of Troy …   Universalium

  • Joseph — /joh zeuhf, seuhf/, n. 1. Jacob s eleventh son, the first of Jacob and his second wife, Rachel: sold into slavery by his brothers. Gen. 30:22 24; 37. 2. the husband of Mary who was the mother of Jesus. Matt. 1:16 25. 3. (Hinmaton yalaktit), c1840 …   Universalium

  • Joseph — (as used in expressions) Abbot, Sir John (Joseph Caldwell) Addison, Joseph Akiba ben Joseph Jacques Joseph Ahearn Arrow, Kenneth J(oseph) Abba Mari ben Moses ben Joseph Banks, Sir Joseph Belloc, (Joseph Pierre) Hilaire Berrigan, Daniel (Joseph) y …   Enciclopedia Universal

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