Go back to article: Watt’s workshop: craft and philosophy in the Science Museum

Abstract

Accounts of the life of Scottish engineer James Watt have tended to take a rather monocular approach to his life’s work – primarily concentrating on the steam engine. However, the evidence of Watt’s workshop, preserved at the Science Museum, points to the diverse nature of his interests, and particularly to the close integration of philosophical and pragmatic elements in his work. Here is the workplace of one of the savant-fabricants that Britain’s ‘Industrial Enlightenment’ depended upon. All was, however, underpinned by physical work and the creation of tangible artefacts that took into account a range of factors at once technological, entrepreneurial, aesthetic and consumer-driven, a point worth emphasising in consideration both of Britain’s industrial revolution and the recent debate about a re-balancing of the UK economy towards manufacturing.

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/140106/007