13.4.1748 Stainborough/UK - 9.12.1814 Pimlico, London/UK
Joseph Bramah was born in Yorkshire. Prevented by an accident from following his father as a farmer Bramah was apprenticed as a carpenter and from 1773 went to work in London. Of an ingenious turn of mind, he made many inventions, including a lock which remained unpicked until 1851; a beer engine; a machine for numbering bank-notes; and a planing machine. He was interested also in the screw propulsion of ships. Bramah was elected Member of the Society of Arts in 1783, the year when having patented his main invention.
The chief invention of Bramah was his hydraulic press, capable of exerting forces of several thousand tons for shaping heavy pieces of iron and steel. Bramah's interest into hydraulics became a characteristics in his works and he patented his invention in 1783. In developing this machine Bramah was assisted by a colleague, who left him shortly afterwards to set up his own engineering works. Bramah's press, like Nasmyth's steam hammer, was itself one of the great inventions that allowed for the industrial revolution. Without it, Stephenson could not have built his bridges nor Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859) have launched the Great Eastern. Bramah also invented in 1785 a rotating motor powered either by water or by gas flow. Shortly later such a motor was used as a hydraulic pump. For some time prior to his death, Bramah had been employed in the erection of several large machines for sawing stones and timber to which he applied his hydraulic power with great success. He was occupied with superintending one of his presses in Hampshire where some 300 trees were to be torn up by the roots when he caught a severe cold. This turned to pneumonia and he suddenly died shortly later. Bramah was honored and admired as one of the earliest mechanical geniuses of his day. His spirit lived on and carried the mechanical arts to still higher perfection.
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Hydraulicians in Europe 1800-2000 . 2013.