One wooden screw press
1 Wooden screw press
This item is part of the contents of the workshop that Scottish engineer James Watt developed at his home, Heathfield, at Handsworth, Birmingham, from c.1795 through to his death in 1819. 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 small screw-press in mahogany, intended for pressing domestic linen. However, it sits in the workshop alongside a pair of damping wells of the type used by Watt with his process for letter-copying, to keep the copy paper moist so that a good copy was created. The difference in design of the press from that fdinally marketed to the public suggests that it may have been used by Watt in developing the process.