Winch handle


1 Winch handle

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 steel component, comprising a short bar of square section, with round pins fitted to cross holes towards either end and projecting in opposite directions. The resemblance to a “winch handle” is superficial, and so the present identification is uncertain. However, if it is correct, then the fact that it was formerly in a packet with the other components from Watt's 1782 rotary engine may indicate that it was also part of that. In any case, it was perhaps designed as a link in some system of jointed bars. There is a similar article in the workshop's tall cabinet.


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