James Watt

James Watt

To celebrate the works and legacy of James Watt in the 200th anniversary year of his death, the University of Glasgow are undertaking a number of events throughout 2019 to honour this pioneer of the Industrial Revolution.

Born in Greenock, Scotland, in 1736, Watt was employed by the University as an instrument maker at the age of 20, providing him with lodgings and a workshop. During his employment he manufactured a range of items for the Professor of Practice of Medicine, Joseph Black, that included an organ and a perspective machine.

When presented with a model Newcomen steam engine in need of repair, Watt devised a separate condenser which would improve efficiency and permit enormous savings in fuel. Through developing this idea with industrialist Matthew Boulton, Watt is considered to be one of the key figures of the Industrial Revolution. The model Newcomen engine survives to this day and is on long-term display at The Hunterian. 

In 1806 the University of Glasgow conferred on him a Doctorate of Laws and to this day he is remembered at the University with the Engineering building being named in his honour.