Watt a Great Idea! 250 years of ethically curating, interpreting and working Watt engines, and the STICK Annual General Meeting

Thursday 25th April 2019 | 10am-3pm | £25 | Engine Shed, Stirling

The Watt steam engine has been one of the most influential inventions in modern British history. Whilst working at the University of Glasgow, James Watt worked on improving the Newcomen engine. He came up with the idea of the separate condenser, which was patented on 25th April 1769. His invention would revolutionise Britain’s industry, architecture, society, and economy.

Join the Scottish Transport and Industrial Collections Knowledge Network (STICK) for our spring event ‘Watt a Great Idea’, celebrating 250 years of the separate condenser. During this event, you will hear from expert speakers about the development of the interpretation and presentation of steam engine history and technology and the conservation and ethical issues involved in the operation of historic Boulton and Watt engines.

Speakers will include:

  • Katie Bowell, Edinburgh University, on the history of public engagement with technology at the National Museum of Scotland, with regard to exhibit labels for its Boulton & Watt engine.
  • Jim Mitchell, Industrial Heritage Consulting Ltd: some challenges in conserving a Boulton & Watt Engine.
  • Ben Russell, Science Museum: A curator at the height of his powers: HW Dickinson and James Watt, 1919-1930.
  • Professor John Hume

Balloon Debate: Watt?! No More Hot Air!

In this debate after lunch, James Watt and other notable inventors are in a hot air balloon, plummeting towards the earth. Who will be thrown out of the balloon first?! If you’d like to be a notable inventor in the Balloon Debate, please get in touch.

James Watt: Power to the People

Why not explore the brand new exhibition at our venue. ‘James Watt: Power to the People’ will launch at the Engine Shed, Scotland’s dedicated building conservation centre, on 25th April 2019.


Whilst this event is open to all, we will also be holding our STICK AGM. Non-members are welcome, and we are actively seeking new committee members at STICK. If you are interested in being nominated to the committee at the AGM, please make yourself known to the event organisers on the day for a nomination form.

Full details of the day are available in the programme.

Please note that the cost for this event is £25, to be paid upon entry. This includes morning refreshments and lunch. Cash payments only. Please bring correct money.