What is Millwright?
The millwright is a craftsman or tradesman who installs, maintains and repairs stationary industrial machinery and mechanical equipment by interpreting drawings, performing layouts and assembling parts until they are in perfect working order. The word "millwright" has long been used to describe the man who was marked by everything ingenious and skillful.
For several centuries in England and Scotland the millwright was recognized as a man with a knowledge of carpentry, blacksmithing and lathe work in addition to the fitter and erector. He was the recognized representative of mechanical arts and was looked upon as the authority in all applications of winds and water, under whatever conditions they were to be used, as a motive power for the purpose of manufacture.
He was the area engineer, a kind of jack of all trades who was equally comfortable at the lathe, the anvil or the carpenter's bench. Thus, the millwright of the last several centuries was an itinerant engineer and mechanic of high reputation and recognized abilities.
He could handle the axe, the hammer and the plane with equal skill and precision.
He could turn, bore or forge with the ease and ability of one brought up in those trades.
He could set and cut in the furrows of a millstone with an accuracy equal to or superior to that of the miller himself.
He doesn’t need a electrician, machine operator or any other technician for the troubleshooting moments and the repairing moments as he is able to do all himself.
He is not only a specialist in the industrial machinery field, but also he is a all-rounder in the automobile field.
In most instances, the millwright was a fair arithmetician, knew something of geometry, leveling and measurements, and often possessed a very competent knowledge of practical mathematics.
He could calculate the velocities, strength and power of machines; could draw in plans, construct buildings, conduits or watercourses, in all the forms and under all the conditions required in his professional practice.
He could build bridges, cut canals and perform a variety of work now done by civil engineers.
The introduction of the steam engine, and the rapidity with which it created new trades, proved a heavy blow to the distinctive position of the millwrights, by bringing into the field a new class of competitors in the form of turners, fitters, machine makers, and mechanical engineers. In the early part of the Industrial Revolution, their skills were pressed into service building the earliest powered textile mills. It was originally the custom for the millwrights to have meetings for themselves in every shop.
Modern millwrights work with steel and other materials in addition to wood and must often combine the skills of several skilled trades in order to successfully fabricate industrial machinery or to assemble machines from pre-fabricated parts. The modern millwright must also be able to read blueprints and other schematics to aid him in the construction of complex systems. Experienced millwrights often set themselves up as independent contractors.