Famous British Mechanical Engineers

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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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 William George Armstrong, Baron Armstrong

William George Armstrong, Baron Armstrong
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: November 26, 1810
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Died: December 27, 1900

The founder of the Armstrong Whitworth manufacturing company, William George Armstrong, also known as Baron Armstrong, redefined the design of guns and also invented the high-pressure hydraulic mechanism. Initially a lawyer, he later quit his practice to devote more time to engineering. He was also knighted for his feats.

 3 Nigel Gresley

Nigel Gresley
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: June 19, 1876
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: April 5, 1941

Nigel Gresley designed some of Britain’s most famous steam locomotive engines. He also invented the Gresley conjugated valve gear, which smoothened the running of engines. His A4 Mallard was the world’s fastest steam locomotive. He later won honors such as the CBE and was also knighted.

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 4 Joseph Whitworth

Joseph Whitworth
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: December 21, 1803
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stockport, England
Died: January 22, 1887

Mechanical engineer Joseph Whitworth is best remembered for devising the British Standard Whitworth system for screw threads. He contributed a lot to the development of Owens College, introduced a scholarship, and left most of his fortunes to the people of Manchester. He was also made a baronet of the U.K.

 5 Harry Ferguson

Harry Ferguson
Famous As: Mechanic
Birthdate: November 4, 1884
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dromore, Northern Ireland
Died: October 25, 1960

Known as the Mad Mechanic, Harry Ferguson was the man behind the invention of the modern tractor, popularly known as the Wee Grey Fergie. He was also the first Irish to build and fly his own plane. His legacy lives on in the Massey Ferguson brand of agricultural machinery.

 6 Charles Algernon Parsons

Charles Algernon Parsons
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: June 13, 1854
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 11, 1931

Copley Medal-winning engineer Charles Algernon Parsons revolutionized marine transport with his invention of a multi-stage steam turbine. His other inventions include a mechanical reducing gear. Apart from being named a Fellow of the Royal Society, he was also knighted and awarded an Order of Merit for his contributions.

 7 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.

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 8 Christopher Cockerell

Christopher Cockerell
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: June 4, 1910
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cavendish Avenue, London, England
Died: June 1, 1999

Known widely as the father of the Hovercraft, a unique combination of a boat and a plane, Christopher Cockerell was the son of a museum curator, who stunned his father by deciding to study engineering. His hovercraft later revolutionized the air-cushion technology. He also developed radar and radio aids during World War II.

 9 Kumar Bhattacharyya, Baron Bhattacharyya

Kumar Bhattacharyya, Baron Bhattacharyya
Famous As: Life peer
Birthdate: June 6, 1940
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dhaka

Born to a IISc professor father, Kumar Bhattacharyya, or Baron Bhattacharyya, began his career as an apprentice at Lucas Industries. Equipped with a PhD in engineering production, he later established the Warwick Manufacturing Group. An advocate of industrial strategy to bring in investments into the UK, he was also knighted.

 10 Claire Barratt

Claire Barratt
Famous As: Archaeologist, Mechanical Engineer
Birthdate: 1974 AD
Birthplace: England

While she initially studied engineering, Claire Barratt later gained fame as an industrial archaeologist. She has a degree in conservation of industrial heritage. She also has a parallel career as a TV presenter and has been part of shows such as Salvage Squad and Britain's Secret Treasures.

 11 William Froude

William Froude
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: November 28, 1810
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Devon, England
Died: May 4, 1879

British engineer and naval architect William Froude made significant contributions to the field of hydrodynamics. He revolutionized ship design by working on a method of studying scale models. He thus became the first person to devise laws that explained the resistance offered to ships by water.

 12 Dugald Clerk

Dugald Clerk
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: March 31, 1854
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Died: November 12, 1932

Scottish engineer Dugald Clerk is best known for his invention of the two-stroke engine, used widely in motorcycles and other machines. He also headed engineering research of the British Admiralty as its director and was knighted, too. He also co-established the intellectual property service provider Marks & Clerk.

 13 James Henry Greathead

James Henry Greathead
Famous As: Civil Engineer
Birthdate: August 6, 1844
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Grahamstown, South Africa
Died: October 21, 1896

James Henry Greathead was a civil and mechanical engineer best remembered for his work on the Liverpool overhead railway, Winchester Cathedral, and the London Underground railways. He is also credited with inventing the Greathead Shield, Greathead Injector Hydrant, and Greathead Grouting Machine.

 14 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.

 15 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.

 16 Daniel Gooch

Daniel Gooch
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: August 24, 1816
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bedlington, England
Died: October 15, 1889

Mechanical engineer Daniel Gooch scripted history by becoming the first person to lay transatlantic cables successfully. He headed Great Western Railway as its locomotive superintendent and developed locomotive such as the North Briton. He was made a baronet for his achievements and had also represented Cricklade as a Conservative MP.

 17 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.

 18 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.

 19 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.

 20 James Macdonald

James Macdonald
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: February 8, 1862
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rajamundry, Madras, India
Died: June 27, 1927

Apart from being a British army officer, James Macdonald was also a skilled engineer. He is known for his exploration of the British East Africa, which comprises Kenya and Uganda now. As a railroad surveyor, he also mapped vast expanses of Africa, till Sudan. He was also knighted for his achievements.

 21 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.

 22 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.