Clement (Clemmet), Joseph

[br]
bapt. 13 June 1779 Great Asby, Westmoreland, England
d. 28 February 1844 London, England
[br]
English machine tool builder and inventor.
[br]
Although known as Clement in his professional life, his baptism at Asby and his death were registered under the name of Joseph Clemmet. He worked as a slater until the age of 23, but his interest in mechanics led him to spend much of his spare time in the local blacksmith's shop. By studying books on mechanics borrowed from his cousin, a watchmaker, he taught himself and with the aid of the village blacksmith made his own lathe. By 1805 he was able to give up the slating trade and find employment as a mechanic in a small factory at Kirkby Stephen. From there he moved to Carlisle for two years, and then to Glasgow where, while working as a turner, he took lessons in drawing; he had a natural talent and soon became an expert draughtsman. From about 1809 he was employed by Leys, Mason \& Co. of Aberdeen designing and making power looms. For this work he built a screw-cutting lathe and continued his self-education. At the end of 1813, having saved about £100, he made his way to London, where he soon found employment as a mechanic and draughtsman. Within a few months he was engaged by Joseph Bramah, and after a trial period a formal agreement dated 1 April 1814 was made by which Clement was to be Chief Draughtsman and Superintendent of Bramah's Pimlico works for five years. However, Bramah died in December 1814 and after his sons took over the business it was agreed that Clement should leave before the expiry of the five-year period. He soon found employment as Chief Draughtsman with Henry Maudslay \& Co. By 1817 Clement had saved about £500, which enabled him to establish his own business at Prospect Place, Newington Butts, as a mechanical draughtsman and manufacturer of high-class machinery. For this purpose he built lathes for his own use and invented various improvements in their detailed design. In 1827 he designed and built a facing lathe which incorporated an ingenious system of infinitely variable belt gearing. He had also built his own planing machine by 1820 and another, much larger one in 1825. In 1828 Clement began making fluted taps and dies and standardized the screw threads, thus anticipating on a small scale the national standards later established by Sir Joseph Whitworth. Because of his reputation for first-class workmanship, Clement was in the 1820s engaged by Charles Babbage to carry out the construction of his first Difference Engine.
[br]
Principal Honours and Distinctions
Society of Arts Gold Medal 1818 (for straightline mechanism), 1827 (for facing lathe); Silver Medal 1828 (for lathe-driving device).
Bibliography
Examples of Clement's draughtsmanship can be found in the Transactions of the Society of Arts 33 (1817), 36 (1818), 43 (1925), 46 (1828) and 48 (1829).
Further Reading
S.Smiles, 1863, Industrial Biography, London, reprinted 1967, Newton Abbot (virtually the only source of biographical information on Clement).
L.T.C.Rolt, 1965, Tools for the Job, London (repub. 1986); W.Steeds, 1969, A History of Machine Tools 1700–1910, Oxford (both contain descriptions of his machine tools).
RTS

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

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.