John Wilkinson (inventor)

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Portrait of John Wilkinson

John Wilkinson ( Iron Mad Wilkinson ) (* 1728 ; † 1808 ) was an English inventor . He is best known for inventing a precision drill for drilling out cannon barrels .


He came from a family of ironworkers who settled in Blackbarrow , Lancashire . In 1747 he built his first blast furnace there . In the following years he acquired some blast furnace and iron works. In 1774 he applied for his first patent for a new method for casting and boring iron cannons , which was soon transferred to the drilling of machine cylinders. At the end of the 18th century , he was the most respected specialist in the field of iron and steelwork and one of the proponents of The Iron Bridge project . He amused England when he suggested building a ship out of iron - until then, shipbuilding only knew wood as a building material. In fact, relying on the principles established by Archimedes, he assembled the first known iron watercraft in history (1787). The first operational steam engine based on the Watt principle was installed in John Wilkinson's factory in 1776.


  • Norbert C. Soldon: John Wilkinson (1728-1808): English Ironmaster and Inventor

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