1 Box addressed G Watt, Soho Birm. 9” x 5” x 4 ¾”, no lid, containing “One part of Cachedemalia, that has been stewed sufficiently to have stonified it, if it had not been stubborn”, “Part of a bottle that was bedded in sand placed in the coldest part of the glass arm”, “Stewed 20 times without sand after stonification”, “Part of the glass Muller completely stonified”, “Part of the stonified bottle from which the specimen that was 20 times stewed was detached”, “Part of a bottle that was placed in a crucible, without sand, in the coldest part of the glass arm”, “Rowley rag, that had been converted into glass, and then passed through the glass arm”, in two pieces one broken off the other, “Part of a black glass Muller moderately stewed, the top part was not covered with sand, No name, A small piece of Quartz, all in paper.
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.
Gregory Watt (1777-1832) was the eldest son of James Watt and his second wife, Ann. Gregory seems to have been a keen student, and a talented artist. He attended Glasgow University before joining his father’s steam engine business in 1796. He left in 1801 and travelled widely, pursuing his interests in geology and mineralogy. Unfortunately though, he was dogged by ill health and died of tuberculosis in Exeter in October 1804, aged only 27. His books and paintings were placed by James Watt in his workshop, where his eye could rest upon them. They provide a rich illustration of how young gentlemen could be educated during Britain’s industrial revolution.