Arguably, the statue in Trafalgar Square should not be of Nelson but of Henry Maudslay. He had started out as a 12-year-old powder monkey, fetching gunpowder on Navy ships, but soon revealed himself to be a brilliant engineer. In the early 1800s, Maudslay built ‘the first precision-made machines in the world’. They produced pulley blocks, ‘the essential parts of a sailing ship’s rigging’, which allowed the Royal Navy to ‘travel, police, and, for a while, rule the world’s oceans’, writes Simon Winchester. The machines outfitted the ships that defeated Maudslay’s hero, Napoleon. Most of Maudslay’s superb devices in Portsmouth docks were ‘still working a century and a half later; the Royal Navy made its last pulley blocks in 1965,’ notes Winchester.