Monday 9 June 2014

British Standard Whitworth

The British industrialist and entrepreneur Sir Joseph Whitworth (1803- 1887) was born in Stockport near Manchester. He was fascinated from an early age by mechanical engineering and was a great inventor and innovator.

Whitworth worked in London on screw cutting lathes, including  work at Joseph Clements workshop on Charles Babbage's Difference Engine. He returned to Manchester in 1833 to begin his own business making high quality lathes and other machine tools. 

Some of the innovations he came up with included the use of engineers blue and scraping techniques to make very flat metal surfaces. He devised a measurement technique capable of a precision of one millionth of an inch.

The innovation for which he is still remembered was the creation in 1841 of a  standardised screw thread which had an angle of 55 degrees. This became the basis of the first standard system of threads - British Standard Whitworth (BSW or "Whit").  

Image Copyright M.G.Reed 2014.