One piece of marble

Watt, James

1 Piece of marble

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 piece of marble is most likely to be associated with Watt's sculpture copying machines, and other pieces are present in the workshop with rotary tool marks of the type the machines would make. However, there is also the possibility that, when treated with vitriolic acid, marble could produce carbonic acid gas, for use as part of Watt's collaboration with Thomas Beddoes on pneumatic medicine.


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