Long cranked winch handle, steel, from James Watt's workshop

Watt, James

1 Long cranked winch handle, steel

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 not cast iron; this is a piece broken off the end of a wrought bar, probably of shear steel. It was common to break off such a piece in order to inspect the grain structure, as a guide to the quality of the metal.

Most of the length of the arbor is formed as a tapered, unequal octagon (square with the corners bevelled), suggesting that it was intended to be driven into a wooden pulley or spool. Unidentified purpose.


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