Step inside James Watt's extraordinary workshop to discover more about the first hero of Britain's Industrial Revolution.

The workshop

Explore the legendary ‘magical retreat’ of engineer James Watt, preserved as it was when he died in 1819. Enter into his incredible workshop to uncover a historical time-capsule containing the original furniture, windows, doors and fireplace, and 8,430 fascinating objects left as they were in Watt’s lifetime.

The man

Find out more about the renowned engineer James Watt and his incredible legacy. Discover how his improved engines meant steam could be used everywhere, from pumping coal mines to powering textile mills and breweries.

See first hand some of his remarkable inventions that have shaped the way we live today and learn why he was heralded the ‘greatest benefactor of the human race’.

The new industrial age

From steam power to tea services and buttons, explore the relationship between Watt’s steam engine and a new age of consumption. Explore an array of unseen objects that helped shape Britain’s industrial past and future.

Supported by The DCMS/Wolfson Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund, with additional support from The Pilgrim Trust.

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On display

Watt’s workshop

Watt's workshop is a historical time capsule - a complete physical record of the working life and interests of the renowned Scottish engineer.

Newly discovered bust of James Watt, 1807/2010

This bust comes from a plaster mould in Watt's workshop. A hitherto unknown view of the great engineer.

James Watt and the Steam Engine
‘Old Bess’ engine by Boulton & Watt, 1777

This is the oldest surviving engine built by Boulton & Watt and the second engine built at the Soho Manufactory, Birmingham.

The first separate condenser, 1765

James Watt used this model to develop the separate condenser, the greatest single improvement to the steam engine ever made.

'T Lot' punch, 1759–73

This rather rough-looking punch, found among Watt's tools, is marked 'T Lot', a celebrated French flute-maker who supplied the King.

Watt’s jars

Watt bought a share in the Deftfield pottery business, Scotland's first industrial pottery, and his workshop contains 66 creamware pots.

Watt’s moulds – relics of a lost industry

Watt's workshop is an exceptionally rich source of surviving artists' moulds, many still tied up with ancient string.

Fragments of Watt’s rotary engine, 1782

Watt attempted to make an engine without a piston and cylinder, using pure rotary motion.

Circular saws, 1758-1773

Watt's workshop contains three circular saw blades, which Watt used in manufacturing the fingerboards for violins.

Watt’s engine counter, c.1781

Watt designed this counter so his customers could be charged for the exact amount of work done.

Model factory from Watt’s workshop

This model appears to have been a working tool to plan out a 'rational factory'. It contains 148 moveable walls and partitions.