Boulton and Watt
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Ed.—in this online transcription I have added a number of images to those originally published, mainly to assist readers unfamiliar with the operation of the steam reciprocating engine and its associated valve-gear, and to add interest in other places.  Additional images are listed separately in the index at the bottom of this page.  Notes prefixed "Ed." are my own.


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CONTENTS.

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EARLY LIFE OF JAMES WATT.

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CHAPTER I.


James Watt, his birthplace and lineage—His grandfather, the Mathematician—Cartsdyke and Greenock in the last century—James Watt's father—His mother—Watt's early years—His fragile constitution—Sent to school—His first visit to Glasgow—His indulgence in story-telling—His boyish ingenuity—His home education—The Rebellion of 1745—Watt's love of scientific pursuits—Sent to Glasgow to learn the trade of mathematical-instrument making.



CHAPTER II.


Glasgow in 1754—The Glasgow tobacco lords—The early clubs, and social habits of the merchants—Watt's master—Leaves Glasgow, and proceeds to London on horseback—Is placed with a mathematical-instrument maker—His progress in learning the trade—Danger from press-gangs—Returns to Scotland— Refused permission to begin business in Glasgow—Gains asylum in the College—His various readings and studies—Intercourse with the professors—Intimate relations of Watt with Robison—Robison's estimate of Watt.



CHAPTER III.


Early knowledge of the power of steam—Writings of Hero—The Æolipile—Branca—Solomon de Caus—Marquis of Worcester—Water-commanding machine—Dr. Papin—His steam-machine—Thomas Savery—Early tin-mining—His steam-engine—Used to pump water—Huel Vor—Thomas Newcomen—His steam-engine—Improved by accident—Humphrey Potter—Henry Beighton—Newcomen's engine used in Staffordshire and Cornwall—Found wasteful, and disused.



CHAPTER IV.


Robison and Watt's conferences on the power of steam—Dr. Black and latent heat—Watt's experiments on steam—The College model of the Newcomen engine arrives from London—Watt's difficulties and perseverance—His instrument-making business improves—Takes a partner and opens a shop in the Salt Market—His marriage—His Sunday walk on Glasgow Green, and his first idea of the condensing engine—Anecdote of Watt and Robison and the new apparatus—Removes to a cellar and erects a working engine—Mechanical and financial difficulties.



CHAPTER V.


Watt's introduction to Dr. Roebuck—Begins business as surveyor—Partnership with Roebuck in the engine—Watt's visit to Kinneil—A patent determined on—Watt's despondency—Learns German—Correspondence with Dr. Small—Watt erects a trial engine—Roebuck's embarrassments—Watt superintends canal works—Employed in surveys—Designs Hamilton Bridge—Supplies plans for dock and pier at Port Glasgow and harbour at Ayr—Illness and death of Mrs. Watt— Dr. Roebuck's ruin.


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BOULTON AND WATT, ENGINEERS, BIRMINGHAM.

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CHAPTER VI.


Birmingham in early times—Its industry—The Boulton family—Matthew Boulton begins business—His marriage—His love of business—Snow-hill and Soho—Partnership with Fothergill—Aims at excellence in his productions—Emulates Wedgwood—Surpasses French art-manufactures—His royal and noble patrons—Employs the best artists—Visits of foreigners at Soho—Boulton's vast business—His scientific pursuits.



CHAPTER VII.


Water and horse-power at Soho—Boulton's correspondence with Benjamin Franklin concerning fire-engine—Boulton's model—Watt visits Soho—First meeting of Boulton and Watt—Correspondence of Boulton, Dr. Small, and Watt—Dr. Roebuck visits Boulton—Watt's anxiety for Boulton to join him—Watt, engineer for the Monkland Canal—Watt loses employment as canal engineer—Terms of proposed partnership between Watt, Small, and Boulton—Roebuck's share in Watt's engine transferred to Boulton —Watt's arrival at Birmingham.



CHAPTER VIII.


Characteristics of Matthew Boulton—Contrast between him and Watt—Boulton's friends—Watt's engine at Soho—Boulton's views of engine business—The Kinneil engine re-erected at Soho—Works successfully—Inquiries for pumping-engines from the mining districts—Proposed extension of patent—Watt in London—Death of Dr. Small—Watt invited to Russia—Application to Parliament for extension of engine patent—Application opposed—Watt's arguments—Act obtained—The manufacture of engines begun.



CHAPTER IX.


Watt's house, Harper's Hill—First order for engines—Boulton's activity—The London engineers prophesy the failure of Watt's engine—Watt revisits Glasgow—His second marriage—Terms of partnership between Boulton and Watt—Boulton pressed with work and anxiety—Watt returns to Soho with his wife—Order for engines for Ting-tang and Chacewater mines, Cornwall—Watt and the Shadwell Waterworks Committee—Stratford-le-Bow engine—Difficulties with workmen at Soho, and with unskilled enginemen—Expansive working.



CHAPTER X.


Inefficiency of the Newcomen pumping-engines—Watt in Cornwall—Mines drowned—Watt and Jonathan Hornblower—Mrs. Watt's account of Cornwall—Chacewater engine finished—Watt's embarrassments—Boulton's courage and perseverance—Fothergill's despondency—Fire at Soho—Engine royalty on savings of fuel—Altercations with adventurers—Boulton's harassments—Proceeds to Cornwall—Watt's despondency—Boulton sustains the firm—Orders for engines from abroad—William Murdock, his excellencies of character and ability—First interview with Boulton and engagement—His mode of dealing with the Captains—Watt's reliance on Boulton.



CHAPTER XI.


Lieutenant Henderson in Cornwall—Boulton's financial embarrassments increase—Boulton and Fothergill—The "Soho pictures"—Watt's letter-copying machine—Boulton pushes the machine—More financial difficulties—Watt's sufferings and melancholy—More Cornish engines waned—Engine dues—Boulton cheers Watt—Mining adventurers' meetings—Boulton organises the mining business—Boulton's house at Cosgarne. Cornwall—The engine patent threatened by the Cornish men—Watt on patent right—The Birmingham Copper Company—Boulton improves engine-boilers by introducing tubes—His indefatigable industry.



CHAPTER XII.


Watt again visits Cornwall—Rotary motion—The crank-engine at Soho—Theft of the invention—Matthew Washborough—Smeaton and steam power—Rotary-motion engine—Boulton and Watt's cares—Evasions of the engine patent—The Hornblowers' Engine—Watt's new inventions—Boulton's confidence in the engine—Air-engine—Watt's fears for the patent—The rotary engine invented—The equalising beam—Various expedients for producing circular motion—Murdock's sun-and-planet motion—Patent taken for the reciprocating expansive engine—Murdock's efficiency and popularity—Watt's despondency—Gloomy prospects of the mining trade.



CHAPTER XIII.


Financial position of the firm—Rotary engines for mills—Boulton's battles with the Cornish adventurers—Murdock and the miners —The Hornblowers' engine at Radstoke—Steam mills—The first rotative engines—Boulton's health fails—He visits Scotland, Carron ironworks, Lord Dundonald—Grumbling in Cornwall and concessions to the miners—Press of work at Soho—Watt's invention of the Parallel Motion and the Governor—Murdock's model locomotive—Boulton's affection for his children—Domestic enjoyment at Cosgarne.



CHAPTER XIV.


Boulton's action in commercial politics—Watt on free commerce—Combination against patents—Fluctuations in the business at Soho—The Cornish copper-miners—The Copper Company formed, and Boulton's part in it—Riots in Cornwall—Boulton's life threatened—The Albion Mill scheme—The double-acting engines—Albion Mill burnt down—Demand for rotative engines—Want of skill and misconduct of workmen—Speculativeness of Boulton—Watt's caution in investing—Boulton's health fails—His depressed spirits—Generosity to Watt.



CHAPTER XV.


Friends of Boulton and Watt—The Lunar Society—Provincial scientific societies—Distinguished associates of the Lunar Society —Dr. Darwin--Dr. Priestley, his gifts and accomplishments—Josiah Wedgwood—Meetings and discussions of the Lunar Society—Dr. Priestley's speculations and experiments—Composition of water, Watt and Cavendish—Bleaching by chlorine—Sun-pictures—Saint-Fond at Birmingham, his descriptions of Watt and Priestley—Decline of the Lunar Society.



CHAPTER XVI.


Increasing debasement of the coinage—Punishments for counterfeiting—Birmingham coiners—Boulton refuses orders for base money—Executes a contract for coin for the East India Company—Applies the steam-engine to coining—Improves the coining apparatus—Political action in relation to base coin—Strikes model coins for inspection of the Privy Council—Opposed by the Mint authorities—Presents model coins to the king—Executes orders for foreign governments—His success—Medalling—Description of the Soho mint—Large consumption of copper in coining—Threatened attack on Soho by a mob—Boulton executes the new copper coinage for Great Britain—Erects the new Government Mint on Tower Hill, and mints for foreign countries—Watt's estimate of Boulton's improvements in coining.



CHAPTER XVII.


Prosperity of Soho—Relaxing strain upon Boulton and Watt—Interview with the king at Windsor—Young Boulton's return from Paris—The French revolution—The Birmingham riots—Priestley's house destroyed—Unpopularity of the "Philosophers"—Young Watt and the Jacobins—Watt's flight from Paris—Denounced by Burke—The sons join their fathers in partnership—Evasion of engine dues—Legal proceedings and favourable judgments—William Murdock—His valuable services—His engine improvements—Return to Soho—Invents gas-lighting—Winsor's wonderful schemes—Murdock's various inventions—Substitute for isinglass, his idea of power wasted in streets, atmospheric railway, &c.—His death.



CHAPTER XVIII.


Watt withdraws from Soho—Boulton continues his interest in business—The burglary at Soho—Sir Walter Scott and Boulton—Watt in retirement—Search for investments—Makes a foreign tour--Painful bereavements—Death of Dr. Black—Deaths of members of the Lunar Society—Watt's family bereavements—Watt's studies on the inhalation of gas—Gregory Watt, his brilliant talents—His friendship with Humphry Davy—His scientific pursuits—His illness and death—Death of Professor Robison—Watt's estimate of Robison—Boulton's last days, his death and funeral—His character—His strength, courage, and perseverance in fighting the battle of the steam-engine—Watt's estimate of Boulton.



CHAPTER XIX.


Watt's closing years—His pursuits—His machine for copying statuary—His garret workshop—Mrs. Watt a martinet—Retention of his faculties—Is consulted by the Glasgow Waterworks Company—Growth and improvement of Glasgow—Watt's interview with the brothers Hart—Sir Walter Scott's panegyric on Watt—His extensive and varied knowledge—His anecdotal powers---Description of him by visitors at Heathfield—His last improvements in the sculpture-copying machine—His last illness and peaceful death—Monumental honours—His qualities and genius—Universal application of the steam-engine—Conclusion.


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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

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FULL-PAGE PLATES.
 

JAMES WATT

 Frontispiece.

MODEL OF A SURFACE-CONDENSER

 100

MATTHEW BOULTON

 144

PHOTOGRAPH OF AN EARLY WATT ENGINE

 174

MODEL OF FLOUR MILL DRIVEN BY "SUN AND

 280

    PLANET" GEAR

 

THE MINT ON TOWER HILL

 372


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LINE ILLUSTRATIONS.
 

 

PAGE

 

 PAGE

Greenock and the Clyde, 1865.

2.

Watt's Pumping-Engine for Mines.

206.

Greenock Harbour, 1768.

3.

Redruth High Street.

 208.

Crawfordsburn House, Greenock.

4.

Cardozos Pumping-Engine.

 231.

James Watt Tavern, Greenock.

12.

United Mines and St. Day.

 232.

The Broomielaw in 1760.

21.

Cosgarne House.

247.

Trongate, Glasgow.

23.

Entrance to ditto.

 257.

Inner Quadrangle, Glasgow College, 1693.

33.

The "Waggon and Horses," Handsworth.

258.

Isometric View of Glasgow College, 1693.

42.

The Crank as applied in the Foot-Lathe.

 260.

The Æolipile.

44.

Interior of the "Waggon and Horses."

 261.

De Caus's Steam Apparatus.

45.

Old Engine-House, Dalcoath.

 278.

Dr. Papin.

47.

Sun and Planet Motion.

281.

Thomas Savery.

52.

First Rotary Engine.

298.

Savory's Engine.

55.

The Parallel Motion.

 303.

Huel Vor.

58.

The Governor.

 305.

Newcomen's House, Dartmouth.

61.

Polgooth Engine-House.

 308.

Newcomen's Engine.

69.

Double-Acting Engine, Albion Mill.

 323.

Wheal Fortune.

71.

Dr. Priestley.

 340.

Polgooth.

73.

Site of Soho Mint.

 371.

Dartmouth.

76.

Burning of Dr. Priestley's House.

 385.

Professor Robison.

78.

William Murdock.

 397.

Papin's Digester.

81.

Murdock's House, Handsworth.

 407.

The Newcomers Model.

83.

Watt's House, Heathfield.

 410.

Watt's House, Delftfield Lane.

88.

Boulton's Monument in Handsworth Church.

 433.

Watt's Improved Apparatus.

92.

The Garret at Heathfield.

 451.

Dr. Joseph Black.

95.

Water-pipe in the Bed of the Clyde.

 454.

Kinneil House.

107.

Watt's Statue in Handsworth Church.

 466.

Outhouse behind Kinneil.

113.

Handsworth Church.

 474.

Hamilton Bridge.

121.

 

 

Port Glasgow.

124.

 

 

Birmingham.

126.

 

 

Soho Manufactory.

133.

 

 

Soho House.

141.

 

 

Watt's House, Harper's Hill.

183.

 

 

Map of United Mines District.

200.

 

 


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James Watt, LL.D., FRS.  Portrait by Henry Howard (ca. 1797).
Picture Wikipedia.


"I look upon him, considering both the magnitude and the universality of his genius, as perhaps the most extraordinary man that this country ever produced: he never sought display, but was content to work in that quietness and humility, both of spirit and of outward circumstances, in which alone all that is truly great and good was ever done."

Wordsworth's assessment of James Watt.


"The part which he played, in the mechanical application of the force of steam, can only be compared to that of Newton in astronomy, and of Shakspeare in poetry."

E. M. Bataille, 'Traité des Machines à Vapeur.' Paris, 1847-49.


". . . . the public only look at my success, and not on the intermediate failures and uncouth constructions which have served as steps to enable me to climb to the top of the ladder" . . . .  "If I have excelled, I think now it has been by chance, and by the neglects of others."

James Watt on himself.


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ADDITIONAL ILLUSTRATIONS IN THIS ONLINE EDITION.

PAGE

 

69 &
84

Schematic of a Newcomen steam engine.  Animated.

226.

William Murdock (1754-1839): Scottish engineer and inventor.

281.

Animation of Murdock's Sun and Planet Motion.  Animated.

307.

William Murdoch's working model of a steam carriage, or road locomotive, of 1784.

322.

Double acting reciprocating engine, showing valve-gear and governor.  Animated.

322.

A closer view of a double-acting engine's cylinder, piston, steam chest and slide valve.

322.

Application of the double-acting steam reciprocating engine to a railway locomotive.  Animated.

322.

A three cylinder "compound" marine steam reciprocating engine.  Animated.

324.

John Rennie (1761-1821), Scottish engineer by Sir Henry Raeburn (1810).

346.

John Smeaton, FRS, (1724-92): English civil and mechanical engineer, and physicist.

363.

Two coins struck at Matthew Boulton's mint.

383.

Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) from a portrait by Henry Fuseli.

396.

William Murdoch's first steam carriage model.

398.

Murdoch's oscillating engine of 1785.

417.

Joseph Black (1728-99): Scottish physician, physicist, and chemist.

445.

Medallion of Chantrey's statue of Watt.
445.

Bust of Matthew Boulton, St. Mary's Church, Handsworth.

467.

James Watt by Chantrey, St. Paul's Cathedral, London.



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