Historian Bill  Whitehead has been delving into the history of Kennetpans – the former distillery site that was once home to the first Boulton and Watt engine in Scotland.

Bill recently spoke at a conference on Watt at the University of Birmingham and chatted later about his research into the Kennetpans Distillery, set up in the 18th century by brothers John and James Stein.

Listen to the audio here.

Historian Bill Whitehead, looking into the history of Kennetpans.
Historian Bill Whitehead, looking into the history of Kennetpans.

Kennetpans is close to the village of Kincardine, on the north side of the River Forth in central Scotland. The site once hosted the largest distillery in the country and is said to have been the “birthplace” of the Scottish whisky industry. The site was closed in 1825, with machinery removed and buildings falling into disrepair.

In recent years work has taken place to stabilise the buildings and improve the area.

Read our story on Kennetpans – and see a video about the buildings – on this website. 

Bill Whitehead is a former teacher. In the 1970s he was invited to set up an Educational Centre at Ecton Copper Mine in the Peak District. Ecton was one of the earliest mines to install a Boulton & Watt engine for winding metal ores.

Bill spent many years investigating the history of this engine. Living near Birmingham, he has easy access to the Boulton and Watt collection in the Library of Birmingham where all the drawings, letters and calculations for that engine are to be found. He battled for years to help preserve the engine house. The National Trust now own the building, which is thought to be the oldest example of a B&W mine site.

Top picture: Kennetpans in 2012. By Richard Webb. Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike licence 2.0.