Boulton and Watt

Boulton and Watt

B6 4AS), on the A38(M) in Birmingham, UK.It was built in 1817 and used in Netherton at the ironworks of M W Grazebrook] The firm of Boulton & Watt was initially a partnership between Matthew Boulton and James Watt.

The Engine Partnership

The partnership was formed in 1775 to exploit Watt's patent for a steam engine with a separate condenser. This made much more efficient use of its fuel than the older Newcomen engine. Initially the business was based at the Soho Manufactory near Boulton's Soho House on the southern edge of the then-rural parish of Handsworth. However most of the components for their engines were made by others, for example the cylinders by John Wilkinson.

In 1795, they began to make steam engines themselves at their Soho Foundry in Smethwick, near Birmingham, England. The partnership was passed to two of their sons in 1800. The firm lasted over 120 years, and was still making steam engines in 1895.

Other Businesses

urviving Watt Engines

The oldest working engine in the world is their Smethwick Engine. Another working Boulton and Watt beam engine, dating from 1812, can be found at Crofton Pumping Station. The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia, houses the world's oldest working rotary steam engine, built by Boulton and Watt in 1785 to grind malt in Whitbread's London brewery.


The firm left an extremely detailed archive of its activities, which was given to the city of Birmingham in 1911 and is kept at Birmingham Central Library. The library has since obtained various other related archives.

ee also

*Steam engine
*Watt steam engine
*Matthew Boulton
*James Watt
*William Murdoch

Further reading

*R. L. Hills, "James Watt" (3 volumes, Landmark, Ashbourne, 2002-6).

External links

* [ Archives of Soho] at Birmingham Central Library.
* [ The Powerhouse Museum's Boulton and Watt engine]
* [ Revolutionary Players website]
* ['ad1583') Cornwall Record Office Boulton & Watt letters]

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