Block making machine by Marc Brunel

Contributed by Portsmouth City Museum

The 'boring' machine, one of the smaller of the block making machines designed by Mark Brunel ©Portsmouth City Council

When this was made it allowed 10 unskilled men to do the work of 110 craftsmen. The navy used 100,000 blocks annually.This is a block making machine, designed by Marc Isambard Brunel to make wooden pulley blocks for the sailing navy. A 74-gun ship needed 922 blocks and it was estimated that the navy used 100,000 blocks every year. This machine was one of a series of 45 machines installed in Portsmouth dockyard and powered by steam. 14 different types of machines were needed to carry out all the processes to make the blocks, this one drilled a hole in the centre. When these machines were first set up in 1805, they were the first example of the use of all metal machine tools for mass production. They laid the foundations for later worldwide development of industrial production lines and modern factory mass production on a global scale. Brunel was born in France in 1769 and fled after the Revolution. His invention demonstrates the importance of the skills brought by immigrants to the United Kingdom.

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Began production in 1805


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