The Men who Invented Britain

The Men who Invented Britain

An Illustrated Introduction to Great British Engineers

John Hannavy

  • Explores the achievements of some of Britain’s most innovative engineers, traces the links between them and how their ideas collectively created ‘modern Britain’
  • An engaging and profusely illustrated introduction to the men who made it all happen


Print edition: £18.99
210 x 280mm (portrait)
208 pages
c.350 photos (200 in colour) 45 diagrams and plans
July 2024

The book is a collection of inter-linked essays, each dealing with a significant figure in the emergence of Britain as an industrial powerhouse in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. It is illustrated with drawings, patents, early historic images and John Hannavy’s acclaimed original contemporary photography of the machines and buildings which were key components in that history.

The engineers are explored chronologically with links backwards and forwards to show who and what influenced them, and their influences on those who followed them. Many of them worked towards the same outcomes – either together, in parallel, or sequentially – and all left their marks on today’s Britain.

Walking in the footsteps of Samuel Smiles – who 'invented' and popularised the industrial biography – this profusely illustrated book covers around 250 years, from James Brindley's early canal-building through John Smeaton's Eddystone Lighthouse, James Watt's steam engines, James Nasmyth's steam hammer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel's iron ships and Henry Bessemer's steel-making to William Arrol's bridges – taking in William Fairbairn, William Murdoch, Thomas Telford, William Jessop, John Rennie, John Scott Russell, The Lighthouse Stevensons, the Railway Stephensons, William Armstrong and others along the way. 

This highly illustrated book provides an accessible account of many of the key players in this most fascinating era in Britain’s industrial development.

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