WHITWORTH, Sir Joseph (1803-1887). Mechanical engineer and machine tool manufacturer.Email about this entry
Autograph Letter Signed to Sir Henry [perhaps Major General Sir Henry Knights Storks (1811-1874)], 1 page 8vo with blank leaf, The Firs, Near Manchester, 5 October 1857. Looking forward to welcoming Sir Henry and Lord Panmure [Fox Maule (later Fox Maule-Ramsay), second Baron Panmure (1801-1874, army officer and politician)], and offering to meet their train.
Whitworth was one of the great mechanical innovators of the nineteenth century. He discovered early in his career how to make a true plane surface; he invented a measuring machine of extreme accuracy, and introduced the uniform system of screw threads, among many other acheivements. He participated fully in public life, and was president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1856.
The present letter almost certainly relates to the work that Whitworth undertook in the 1850s for the Board of Ordnance with a view to making improvements to the accuracy of rifles, the recently adopted Enfield rifle proving 'untrue in almost every particular' [Oxford DNB]. The government provided a shooting gallery close to Whitworth's home in Fallowfield, from which this letter was written, to forward his experiments, and then, perhaps typically, rejected his vastly improved rifle.
Letters of Sir Joseph Whitworth appear to be remarkably scarce on the market.
£125 [No: 25447]