Ornamental fireplace front, with semi-circular opening

Watt, James

1 Iron ornamental front for fireplace with ornamental semi-circular opening

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 the cast iron front of a domestic grate, moderately ornamented in the “classical revival” style appropriate to the age of the house. Comparing its dimensions with those of the fireplace, it can never have been fitted in this room. Either Watt brought it in here foreseeing some use for it, or it is a later intrusion, brought from another room of the house to get it out of the occupants’ way.


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