Famous 18th Century British Engineers

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 1 George Stephenson

George Stephenson
Famous As: Father of Railways
Birthdate: June 9, 1781
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wylam
Died: August 12, 1848

George Stephenson was a British mechanical and civil engineer. Stephenson is credited with pioneering rail transport which is widely regarded as one of the most prominent inventions of the 19th century. Regarded as the Father of Railways, George Stephenson is also credited with developing the standard rail gauge which is used by several railways around the world.

 2 John Smeaton

John Smeaton
Famous As: Civil Engineer
Birthdate: June 8, 1724
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Austhorpe, Leeds, England
Died: October 28, 1792

John Smeaton was the first person to claim to be a civil engineer. One of his best-known creations was the Eddystone Lighthouse. He was also the first to use hydraulic lime in concrete. He not only won the Copley Medal but was also made a Fellow of The Royal Society.

 3 Richard Trevithick

Richard Trevithick
Famous As: Pioneer of steam-powered road & rail transport
Birthdate: April 13, 1771
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Tregajorran, Cornwall, England
Died: April 22, 1833

Richard Trevithick was a British mining engineer and inventor. A pioneer of rail transport and steam-powered vehicles, Trevithick is credited with developing the first working railway steam locomotive and the first high-pressure steam engine. He was a highly respected figure in the fields of engineering and mining during the peak of his career.

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 4 George Cayley

George Cayley
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: December 27, 1773
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Scarborough, England
Died: December 15, 1857

British engineer and inventor George Cayley was a pioneer of aeronautics and aviation. He designed the world’s first glider that could successfully carry a human being. He was also a prominent Whig and had contributed to the formation of what is now known as the University of Westminster.

 5 Matthew Boulton

Matthew Boulton
Famous As: Businessperson, Engineer
Birthdate: September 3, 1728
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Birmingham, England
Died: August 17, 1809

British manufacturer and engineer Matthew Boulton is best remembered as the financier of Scottish engineer James Watt’s pathbreaking steam engine. His Soho Manufactory initially produced metal parts, and he later stepped into John Roebuck’s shoes to partner with Watt, after Roebuck went bankrupt. He also established the Soho Mint.

 6 William Playfair

William Playfair
Famous As: Economist, Mathematician, Engineer, Statistician
Birthdate: September 22, 1759
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dundee
Died: February 11, 1823

Scottish engineer and political economist William Playfair is best-remembered as the inventor of statistical graphs and secret agent for Great Britain during its war with France. He published the first data graphs in his book The Commercial and Political Atlas. He used line, area and bar charts to represent the economy of 18th Century England and introduced the pie chart.

 7 Joseph Bramah

Joseph Bramah
Famous As: Civil engineer, Engineer
Birthdate: April 13, 1748
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Barnsley
Died: December 9, 1814

Joseph Bramah started his career as a cabinet maker and over time, revolutionized the lock-making industry with his pick-proof locks. Along with blacksmith Henry Maudslay, he changed the course of 19th-century British manufacturing. Best known for his hydraulic press, he also built water closets in Queen Victoria’s home.

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 8 James Brindley

James Brindley
Famous As: civil engineer, engineer
Birthdate: 1716 AD
Birthplace: Derbyshire
Died: September 27, 1772

 9 Henry Maudslay

Henry Maudslay
Famous As: Innovator
Birthdate: August 22, 1771
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Woolwich, England
Died: February 14, 1831

While he initially apprenticed under a lock maker, he later joined the factory of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, where he invented scores of machines, the most notable of them being the metal lathe. He also developed plane surfaces to aid his workmen at his factory. He was married to inventor Joseph Bramah's housemaid.

 10 William Hyde Wollaston

William Hyde Wollaston
Famous As: Chemist, Physicist, Engineer, Metallurgist
Birthdate: August 6, 1766
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Norfolk
Died: December 22, 1828

William Hyde Wollaston was a pioneer of powder metallurgy and the first to develop malleable platinum from its ore. He is also credited with the discoveries of palladium and rhodium. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he dictated his last Bakerian lecture, as he was too ill to deliver it.

 11 John By

John By
Famous As: Military Engineer
Birthdate: August 7, 1779
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lambeth,London, England
Died: February 1, 1836

One of the major figures behind the development of the city of Ottawa, military engineer John By had created the Rideau Canal, which connected Lake Ontario and the Ottawa River. He was also charged with over-running the costs for the project but was eventually acquitted of all charges.

 12 William Roy

William Roy
Famous As: Cartographer, Engineer, Geographer
Birthdate: May 4, 1726
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Carluke
Died: July 1, 1790

William Roy was a Scottish surveyor, military engineer, and antiquarian. An innovator, Roy was successful in applying newly emerging technologies and new scientific discoveries to the geodetic mapping of Great Britain, which is often called Roy's Map of Scotland. William Roy also played a major role in the establishment of the Ordnance Survey, Great Britain's national mapping agency.

 13 Samuel Bentham

Samuel Bentham
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: January 11, 1757
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: England
Died: May 31, 1831

Mechanical engineer and naval architect Samuel Bentham was responsible for Russia’s victory over a Turkish force, using shell guns on warships. He had also visited China to study ship designs and had served as the inspector of English naval works. He was the younger brother of philosopher Jeremy Bentham.

 14 William Fairbairn

William Fairbairn
Famous As: Civil engineer
Birthdate: February 19, 1789
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kelso, Scotland
Died: August 18, 1874

William Fairbairn is remembered for his pioneering use of wrought iron for building bridges, ship hulls, and beams. Apart from inventing the Lancashire boiler, he also served as the president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He also introduced proper and systematic investigations of the collapse of structures.

 15 William Nicholson

William Nicholson
Famous As: Chemist and inventor
Birthdate: December 13, 1753
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: May 21, 1815

William Nicholson is best remembered for discovering the electrolysis of water, which revolutionized the chemical industry. His inventions also include his own hydrometer and launched the first independent science journal. Inspired by his writer friend Thomas Holcroft, he also penned An Introduction to Natural Philosophy, his best-known written work.

 16 John Blenkinsop

John Blenkinsop
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: 1783 AD
Birthplace: Leeds, England
Died: January 22, 1831

John Blenkinsop was an English inventor and mining engineer. He is credited with inventing steam locomotives and designing the first practical railway locomotive. At a time when inventors were content with locomotives drawing up to four times their weight, Blenkinsop continued working on engines that could draw up to 18 times their weight and eventually succeeded in building better locomotives.

 17 Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: 1765 AD
Birthplace: Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Died: February 20, 1826

After quitting school at 14, Matthew Murray apprenticed to be a blacksmith or a whitesmith. He then worked for a Leeds-based flax spinner and later established his own factory, developing innovations in the domain of steam engines. His locomotives for collieries were the first to be commercially successful.

 18 John Heathcoat

John Heathcoat
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: August 7, 1783
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Duffield, England
Died: January 18, 1861

John Heathcoat was an English inventor who improved the construction of the warp-loom in order to produce better-looking mitts. In 1808, he invented the machine to produce an exact imitation of handmade pillow lace. It was by far the most complex and expensive textile apparatus.

 19 Edward John Dent

Edward John Dent
Famous As: Watchmaker
Birthdate: August 19, 1790
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: March 8, 1853

 20 Joseph Clement

Joseph Clement
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: June 13, 1779
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Asby, England
Died: February 28, 1844

Born to a weaver, Joseph Clement himself initially worked as a weaver and learned metal work. He began building power looms and then moved to London, where he worked with top engineering firms. His best achievement was his collaboration with Charles Babbage in building Babbage’s Difference Engine.

 21 William Hedley

William Hedley
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: July 13, 1779
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Newburn, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Died: January 9, 1843

 22 John Montresor

John Montresor
Famous As: Military engineer who served as an ensign in the 48th Regiment of Foot on the expedition to Fort Duquesne
Birthdate: April 22, 1736
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gibraltar
Died: May 31, 1799

 23 Arthur Woolf

Arthur Woolf
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: October 31, 1766
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Camborne, England
Died: October 26, 1837

British engineer Arthur Woolf was a pioneer of the compound steam engine. Starting his career as a carpenter, he later worked for Joseph Bramah. While working at a London brewery, he began working with steam power and ended up inventing the Woolf high-pressure compound engine, almost twice efficient as James Watt’s engine.

 24 Thomas Tredgold

Thomas Tredgold
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: August 22, 1788
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brandon Village, England
Died: January 28, 1829

Initially a carpenter, Thomas Tredgold later began working with his architect uncle in London. There, he learned architecture, engineering, and French. The self-made man is best known for his book Elementary Principles of Carpentry, which later became a classic. He is also known to have laid down the standard definition of civil engineering.

 25 Eaton Hodgkinson

Eaton Hodgkinson
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: February 26, 1789
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: England
Died: June 18, 1861

 26 Renatus Harris

Renatus Harris
Famous As: Instrument Maker
Birthdate: 1652 AD
Birthplace: France
Died: 1724 AD

 27 Joshua Field

Joshua Field
Famous As: Civil engineer
Birthdate: 1786 AD
Birthplace: Hackney, Middlesex, England
Died: August 11, 1863

Engineer Joshua Field was not just part of the firm Maudslay, Sons, and Field but also co-created the combined steam engines that powered the Great Western’s maiden trans-Atlantic journey. He also co-established the Institution of Civil Engineers and was named a fellow of both the Royal Society and the Society of Arts.

 28 Robert Hoe

Robert Hoe
Famous As: Machinist
Birthdate: October 29, 1784
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Leicestershire, England
Died: January 4, 1833

First generation English emigrant Robert Hoe began his career with co-founding a printer’s equipment manufacturing unit called Smith, Hoe and Company, changing its name to R. Hoe & Company when upon the death of his partners he became its sole proprietor. A skilled technician, he improved upon existing printing press designs, successfully flooding the US market with his own products.  

 29 Samuel Hall

Samuel Hall
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: 1781 AD
Birthplace: Basford, England
Died: November 21, 1863