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B.R. Faunthorpe Collection re Joseph Whitworth

Date range: 19th-20th centuries.

Papers collected by Commander Bertram R. Faunthorpe in connection with an intended biography of Sir Joseph Whitworth (1803-1887).

Whitworth's contributions in the fields of mechanical engineering and scientific measurement were manifold: he invented a method of manufacturing truly plane surfaces, conceived and developed a micrometer which was accurate to two-millionths of an inch and, perhaps most significantly, devised a uniform system of screw threads.

At his extensive works in Openshaw, near Manchester, Whitworth also experimented to improve the design of rifles and artillery pieces.

The business was converted into a limited liability company in 1874, and in 1897 it merged with Armstrong's of Elswick.

After his death Whitworth's executors donated £118,000 to found the chair of engineering and establish laboratories at Owens College, Manchester.

Papers include:

  • material on Whitworth's work on firearms and screw threads
  • notes on the history of the engineering industry
  • copies of articles by or about Whitworth
  • photographs
  • papers relating to Whitworth's estate at Stancliffe in Darley Dale, Derbyshire. Among the latter are a farm stock book, a quarry stock book and Joseph Dawson's letter-books

Finding aids

Unpublished outline list.


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library