Benjamin Huntsman was born in Lincolnshire, England in 1704. His parents had moved here from Germany shortly before his birth.
As a boy, Benjamin showed a flair for mechanical crafts. As a young man,he set up a clock-making business in Doncaster (about 20 miles north of Sheffield). He also practised as a surgeon and occulist as well as carrying out general mechanical repairs.
Like most of the people who manufactured steel products, he obtained his steel from Germany. Unfortunately, he found that this material was not suitable for the springs and pendulums of the clocks which he was making. He began experiments to produce a better quality of steel but had difficulty in obtaining suitable fuel for his steel making furnace.
In 1740, he moved to Sheffield where there was a better supply of the coke he needed as a fuel. He first settled in the district of Handsworth just to the south of the centre of Sheffield where he carried out his experiments in secret.
After many years of experimenting, he finally perfected his crucible steel process and realised that this process could be used to make superior tools and cutlery. When he tried to interest the local cutlers in using his steel for their products, he had little success.