model for drilling frame, from James Watt's workshop

James Watt

1 Wood pattern of drill frame, single pulley, for reducing machine

This item is part of the contents of the workshop that Scottish engineer James Watt developed at his home, Heathfield, at Handsworth, Birmingham. Although Watt is best known for his work on the steam engine, his workshop contains a wide variety of objects from many different projects, from chemistry to sculpture-copying.

The description of the item was written by Edward Collins, the land agent responsible for Heathfield when the workshop was given to the Science Museum in 1924. Collins could not always identify what he was looking at, but always described what he saw clearly. This has allowed his descriptions to form the basis of subsequent research.

This is a model of the drill-frame used in Watt's reducing machine for copying sculptures, also present in his workshop. This full-sized wooden model was made, most likely by Watt, to show the workman who was going to make the finished item what was wanted. It is important evidence of the way in which information was commonly conveyed between workers, at a time when technical drawing was in its infancy and the ability to read drawings could not be taken for granted.


James Watt's Garret Workshop
Object Number:
Major J.M. Gibson-Watt