Model factory from Watt's Workshop

Model factory from Watt’s workshop

This model appears to have been a working tool to plan out a 'rational factory'. It comprises a four-floor building with no fewer than 148 moveable walls and partitions, stairs and other fittings. It is presently unclear whether the model was of a particular prototype, or if it was a generic aid to planning of work-flows and equipment layout in manufacturing.

The use of such a planning tool at such an early date is remarkable - over a century before similar planning was adopted in the USA and for making automobiles by Henry Ford. This reinforces what one commentator said about James Watt’s achievements when working at Birmingham, compared to those of his early 20th century successors: 'Neither [Frederick] Taylor, [Henry] Ford, nor other experts devised anything… that cannot be discovered at Soho before 1805.'

Currently on display in:
James Watt and our World
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