Five glass spirit levels

1790-1819 in United Kingdom
James Watt

Five glass spirit levels consisting of glass tubed filled with a colourless liquid, with air space left, unsigned, United Kingdom, 1790-1918. One tube has either lost it's liquid or never contained any, there are no visible breaks or leaks.

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.


James Watt's Garret Workshop
Object Number:
glass and liquid (unidentified)
smallest: 102 mm 8 mm, .002kg
largest: 125 mm 11.5 mm, .001kg
spirit level
Major J.M. Gibson-Watt