James Watt (1736 – 1819) is renowned for the technical enhancement of steam engines that led to subsequent exploitation of steam power in industrial economies. Watt became a ‘hero of invention’ of great cultural significance in Scotland and Great Britain. But apart from his stature in engineering, Watt, a member of the famous ‘Lunar Society’ of Birmingham, was a man of inventive energy in experiment and observation who also invested time and artistry to some of the earliest examples of technical presentation drawings; he invented and used multiple drawing aids and experimented constantly with methods of visual communication and artistic reproduction.

In this talk Dr Frances Robertson (Glasgow School of Art) will examine Watt’s cultural significance and relevance in the context of Glasgow and late 18th and early 19th century engineering.