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GB Patent: GB-179,301,951
Improved methods and means of working wood, metal and other materials
Samuel Bentham - Westminster, county Middlesex, England

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Not known to have been produced


Patent Dates:
Granted: Apr. 23, 1793

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Grace's Guide page on Samuel Bentham
This modestly titled patent is called by Joseph Wickham Roe "one of the most remarkable patents ever issued by the British Patent Office" (from the 1926 book "English and American Tool Builders"). The patent describes a complete system of machinery and processes to mass-produce wooden pulley blocks, which were needed in large quantities for every ship in the British Navy. The Navy purchased over 100,000 pulley blocks per year. Producing these pulley blocks had been a bottleneck in expanding the naval fleet. In 1796, after this patent was issued, Bentham was appointed Inspector General of the Naval Works, and in this role he pushed for increasing mechanization of ship-building. The pulley-block production system was not built as described in this patent, however, as in the meantime he had seen Marc Isambard Brunel's machinery drawings (see patent GB-180,102,478) and recognized them as superior. The revised manufacturing scheme largely used Bentham's machine for roughing operations and Brunel's machines for finishing. The 42 machines were built for the Portsmouth Block Mills by a young engineer named Henry Maudslay (who had earlier worked for Joseph Bramah). Maudslay went on to become a major innovator in metalworking machine design.

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