Weekender: Watt in the World exhibition opens in city library

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Watt in the World – The life and legacy of James Watt 1736-1819 at the Library of Birmingham opens today and forms the centrepiece of the Lunar Society’s James Watt Bicentenary programme.

Featuring more than 100 internationally important archival and museum objects, the exhibition includes paintings, works on paper, furniture, silver, scientific instruments, personal items, notebooks, letters and Watt-related memorabilia.

Highlights include James Watt’s notebooks that detail his experiments, personal correspondence with friends and family, silverware by Matthew Boulton, a letter copy press designed by Watt; and Sir Thomas Lawrence’s 1812 portrait of the great engineer.

Born in Greenock in Scotland in 1736, James Watt moved to Birmingham in 1774 to enter into partnership with Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) to manufacture an improved steam engine that incorporated his innovation of the separate condenser.

The Boulton & Watt engine was to become, quite literally, one of the drivers of the Industrial Revolution in Britain and around the world. Whilst best known for his improvements to the steam engine, Watt was a man of many other talents – scientific instrument maker, civil engineer, chemist, inventor and member of the renowned Lunar Society.

Watt in the World – The life and legacy of James Watt 1736-1819 will run at the Library of Birmingham from Friday 12 July to Saturday 2 November 2019.