Watt 2019 project

The inventor, engineer and industrialist James Watt died on 25th August 1819. 2019 marks the bicentenary of his death and the University of Birmingham, in collaboration with other organisations, is involved with a series of activities which are taking place this year. 

Conference: Rethinking James Watt (1736-1819): Innovation, Culture and Legacy

Friday evening 30 August to Sunday 1 September 2019

University of Birmingham

The 200th anniversary of James Watt’s death provides an opportunity to revisit his personal and public life, relationships, context and legacy. By looking beyond his role in improving steam-engine technologies, this conference seeks to consider the diverse influences that shaped Watt’s experiences in Scotland and Birmingham.

This conference will bring together academics in different disciplines, including scientists and engineers – the Newcomen Society and Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education are involved –as well as historians; heritage professionals working in archives, libraries and museums and researchers at all stages of their careers inside and outside universities.

More information about the conference can be found on the James Watt 2019 website: www.jameswatt2019.org

Exhibition: The Life and Legacy of James Watt 1736-1819

12 July - 2 November 2019

Library of Birmingham

Alongside the conference, there will be a major Watt exhibition at the Library of Birmingham and the oldest surviving Watt working steam engine, the Smethwick Engine, will be operating at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum.

Featuring more than 100 internationally important archival and museum objects, the exhibition will include paintings, works on paper, furniture, silver, scientific instruments, personal items, photographs, documents, notebooks and letters.

Highlights include James Watt’s notebooks detailing his experiments, personal correspondence with friends and family, silverware by Matthew Boulton, a Watt copy press, a working scale model engine and Sir Thomas Lawrence’s 1812 portrait of the great engineer.

More information about the project can be foun on the project website: www.jameswatt2019.org