Historic Environment Scotland has revamped some of the signs at the site of the former cottage workshop of James Watt.
The organisation has remade and remounted plaques on a historic steam engine cylinder, sited next to the remains of the Watt workshop at Kinneil Estate, Bo’ness.
The workshop was built in the 1760s behind Kinneil House, then the home of Watt’s Scottish business partner Dr John Roebuck. Watt worked on making improvements to the steam engine, using parts made at Roebuck’s Carron Iron Works.
Falkirk Community Trust, which manages the surrounding park, says: “The large cast-iron cylinder next to the cottage comes from the engine at the Schoolyard Pit (in Bo’ness). The pit itself literally stood in the schoolyard and the pupils used to complain about the steam coming in through the windows.”
The cylinder was put on display beside the cottage in 1946 by the then Bo’ness Town Council.
Mark Watson of Historic Environment Scotland says: “The plaques (on the cylinder) are new replicas of the originals, commissioned and installed by Historic Environment Scotland. The steel fixings had rusted and broken the corners of the big plaque, so the original was taken into safekeeping by collections team colleagues. It was shown at the recent exhibition (on Watt) in the Engine Shed in Stirling.”
Watt worked on improving the performance of a number of Newcomen engines around Bo’ness. One, at the Temple Pit in Bo’ness, was known as “Watt’s Spinning Wheel”.
Sadly, Watt’s time in the Bo’ness ended when business partner Roebuck went bust. Watt then took his experimental engine from his workshop at Kinneil and moved to Birmingham to team up with one of Roebuck’s creditors, Matthew Boulton.
- You can visit the Watt Cottage at Kinneil Estate, Bo’ness.
- The site boasts a free museum as well as part of the Roman Antonine Wall and the remains of a medieval church. The imposing Kinneil House – at the heart of the estate – also stages open days throughout the year.