On Wednesday 23rd March a new permanent exhibition will open at the Science Museum in London dedicated to the life and work of the engineer James Watt. Launched at a special event the day before by writer and broadcaster Adam Hart-Davies the centrepiece of the exhibition will be the attic workshop of the Scottish inventor which will be opened up to visitors for the first time. When Watt died in 1819 the workshop was locked and remained undisturbed until 1924, when the complete workshop including door, window, skylight and floorboards was transported to the Science Museum together with over 6,500 objects from inside. Although the workshop has been on display, visitors have never been allowed inside until now. Objects inside include the world’s oldest circular saw and Watt’s original 1765 model for the first separate condenser which has been described as “the greatest single improvement to the steam engine ever made”.
The new display is housed alongside his early steam engines which can be viewed in the Museum’s Energy Hall. The University too can boast a James Watt beam engine which stands outside the Students Union. Dated 1850, it was donated to the former College by the London Metropolitan Water Board in 1934 and was re-erected by students.
For more information on the Exhibition visit the Science Museum web page. An interesting background article was also published recently by Adam Hart-Davies in the Daily Telegraph.
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