Female holding book and child
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.