Free Bo’ness event to celebrate life of James Watt

The cottage, at Kinneil House in Bo'ness, which inventor James Watt used as his workshop when developing protoypes for the steam engine which would go on to play a huge part in the industrial revolution
The cottage, at Kinneil House in Bo'ness, which inventor James Watt used as his workshop when developing protoypes for the steam engine which would go on to play a huge part in the industrial revolution
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History fans are being invited to a free event in Bo’ness later this month to celebrate the life and legacy of famous Scottish inventor James Watt.

The event – on Tuesday, January 21 – will feature talks and films about the great man. It will be hosted in the historic Hippodrome Cinema – just a few miles from Watt’s cottage workshop at Kinneil House.

The event will also reflect on the past year – 2019 was the 200th anniversary of Watt’s death and the 250th anniversary of his patent to improve the efficiency of the steam engine. Events to celebrate Greenock-born Watt took place across the UK.

Miles Oglethorpe of Historic Environment Scotland – which is helping to host the Hippodrome event – said: “During the anniversary year there were some great talks about James Watt and his legacy. We’re reprising some of them at this event and showcasing films to raise awareness of Watt and his story.

“The event is open to everyone and we’d encourage people to book a free ticket through Eventbrite or the James Watt website – www.jameswatt.scot/wattfinale.”

The event is from 7pm-9pm. Speakers include Professor Gordon Masterton from the University of Edinburgh, Geoff Bailey from Falkirk Community Trust; and engineering historian Dr Nina Baker.

Professor Colin McInnes, James Watt Chair, Professor of Engineering Science at the University of Glasgow, said: “James Watt’s contribution to engineering cannot be understated, key to which was the step-change in efficiency he delivered through the separate steam condenser.

“His initial is stamped on every light bulb, measuring the electrical power it delivers, but also reminding us of the sheer intellectual light he brought to the world.”

James Watt was born on January 19, 1736. He became one of Scotland’s most prominent inventors and engineers. During his long career, his work ranged from relatively small-scale instrument making to the building of major civil engineering schemes such as Glasgow’s water supply and the Monkland and Caledonian Canals.

But his improvement of Newcomen’s steam engine gained him his greatest fame.

Historic Environment Scotland led a group of museums and industrial heritage professionals to develop activities during 2019.

Dr Oglethorpe said: “Key partners in the group included Glasgow and Heriot Watt Universities, Falkirk Community Trust,Inverclyde Council, Dundee Heritage Trust, the National Galleries of Scotland, the National Museums of Scotland, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland.”

He added: “One of our most active partners has been the charity The Friends of Kinneil in Bo’ness. Watt tested his prototype new engine at a workshop, the remains of which can still be found next to the magnificent Kinneil House.

“The Friends group have been keen to raise the profile of Watt and his links with Kinneil, and won a Scottish Heritage Angel award in 2016 for their ongoing work.”