You can find out more about Watt across the UK. There are museums with exhibitions, statues and busts, as well as portraits and historic sites with links to the inventor.
- Watt was born in Greenock in the west of Scotland. The McLean Museum and Art Gallery in the town has displays on the life of James Watt. (Please note that the Museum is closed at the time of writing – and is due to re-open in the summer of 2019).
- For a number of years Watt worked at the University of Glasgow. The Hunterian Museum at the University has a model of the Newcomen Engine that inspired Watt’s improvements to the steam engine. There is also a timeline about Watt’s life in the James Watt Building.
- Callendar House Museum in Falkirk features a display about Watt – who worked on developing the steam engine to help Dr John Roebuck, one of the founders of the local Carron Iron Works.
- Nearby Kinneil Museum in Bo’ness features further displays about Watt. Roebuck lived in the imposing Kinneil House next to the current Museum building. You can also visit the workshop used by Watt in the grounds.
- The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, features a 1786 Boulton and Watt engine. The Museum also features a statue of Watt by Chantrey.
- You’ll find another Boulton and Watt engine – this time from 1801-1802 – at Verdant Works in Dundee.
- Also in Scotland, there is an exhibition on James Watt and his links with the mining industry at the National Mining Museum Scotland at Newtongrange, near Edinburgh.
- The National Wallace Monument, Stirling, features a bust of Watt – one of 16 all-time Scottish heroes in the “Hall of Heroes”.
- The Science Museum, London, features a recreation of Watt’s Workshop. You can also see Old Bess, a 1777 beam engine by Boulton and Watt, and a 1788 Rotative engine.
- The London Museum of Water and Steam in Brentford features a Boulton and Watt Steam Engine from 1820, the year after Watt’s death.
- The National Portrait Gallery in London features 17 portraits of Watt. You’ll also find portraits and a bust of Watt in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.
- At Crofton Pumping Station in Wiltshire is an 1812 Boulton and Watt Engine. It’s said to be the oldest working steam engine in the world, still capable of doing its original job.
- Soho House Museum in Birmingham celebrates the life of Matthew Boulton and James Watt. The Library of Birmingham includes the world’s most important archive of the Industrial Revolution, the Boulton & Watt Archive.
- Other Watt-related historic sites in Birmingham include:
- Handsworth Parish Church, where Watt is buried;
- Aston Hall, home to James Watt Junior;
- the Jewellery Quarter, where Watt lived for a time;
- Thinktank, home to the Smethwick Engine (the oldest working steam engine in the world);
- and The Assay Office Birmingham, which holds a variety of material linked to Watt (and who was one of its Guardians).
- Watt personally supervised the installation of an engine at Wheal Busy, by the village Chacewater (about five miles from Truro) in Cornwall. Watt also rented Cusgarne House – which still stands. It’s a short drive away from Wheal Busy and is now in private ownership.
STATUES AND MONUMENTS
Statues of Watt have been erected in:
- Westminster Abbey, London;
- Outside the new Birmingham Library;
- St. Mary’s Church, Handsworth, Birmingham
- Manchester’s Piccadily Gardens;
- Leeds city centre;
- George Square Glasgow;
- Glasgow Green, Glasgow;
- at Heriot-Watt University on the outskirts of Edinburgh; and
- within the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Know of any additional sites we can add to this map? Tweet us @Watt2019.