Discover local history in libraries

Libraries across Falkirk District are hosting special events to celebrate local history.

The talks and celebratory events will include a presentation on the partnership of James Watt and Dr John Roebuck – and their links to Kinneil House and the Carron Iron Works. This evening talk is taking place on May 21 in Larbert Library.

There’s also a talk in Bo’ness Library on local war graves on May 17.

Full details of all the events are listed below. The information below has been provided by Falkirk Community Trust.

If you have questions, contact the individual libraries through the Trust website. 

You can also find details on Eventbrite.

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Bo’ness Library – hosting one of the events during Local History Week.

 

  • Tuesday May 7th – Larbert Library – 18:30-19:30.
  • 1919 – Larbert, Glasgow, Paris and London – a talk by Russell MacGillivray.

Larbert Library is pleased to host local historian Russell MacGillivray. Russell is the author of two fabulous books on the subject of the Great War and its impact on Larbert, but on this evening he will join us to tell us a little bit of the Great War’s aftermath. 1919 proved to be a pivotal year – the people of Larbert were looking forward to peace, but the news that year featured events such as the Iolaire Disaster, the scuttling of the German Fleet, Victory Day celebrations, the Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles. Russell will be discussing some of these events along with fascinating insights into the Jottings column of the Falkirk Heralds of 1919. Russell will also be giving us highlights from his new book, Larbert and the Great War, Volume two. Join us on May 7th, for an entertaining and insightful cultural overview of a year which proved to be a turning point in history.

>> More info

  • Thursday May 9th – Grangemouth Library – 14:00-15:00
  • 130 years of Grangemouth Library – a celebration

Join Geoff Bailey at Grangemouth Library to help us celebrate 130 years of Grangemouth Library! Geoff will take us on a journey through time with photographs, insights and anecdotes to help us celebrate a very grand birthday of our beloved Carnegie Library.

Once a year Scottish Libraries host a Local History Week using a common topical theme – last year it was the First World War and this year it is the Year of the Conversation and printed communication. This year the week runs from Monday 13th May to Friday 18th, with some spill-over to either side.

This year is the Year of Conversation and to help us celebrate this, local historians have been invited into libraries throughout the Falkirk districting to present talks on this theme and to start a conversation. Falkirk Community Trust Libraries are pleased to welcome Geoff Bailey to Grangemouth Library to tell us more about the history and development of Grangemouth Library and its community in the last 130 years. This is a story that places the library firmly at the heart of a vibrant and bustling community.

Join us on May 9th, for an expert’s insight into the history into one of our favourite Grangemouth icons.

>> More info

  • Thursday May 9th – Falkirk Library – 19:00-20:00
  • A window into the past – Falkirk in historical maps.

Join Gray Allan at Falkirk Library to learn more about maps and their use for local history. We will take a wander through history and learn a little more about our local area through time.

Once a year Scottish Libraries host a Local History Week using a common topical theme – last year it was the First World War and this year it is the Year of the Conversation and printed communication. This year the week runs from Monday 13th May to Friday 18th, with some spill-over to either side.

This year is the Year of Conversation and to help us celebrate this, local historians have been invited into libraries throughout the Falkirk districting to present talks on this theme and to start a conversation. Falkirk Library is pleased to welcome Gray Allan to Falkirk Library to tell us more about the fantastic array of historical maps that are housed in the Falkirk Libraries’ map collections. Gray will explain their history, their use for local history and show us how important maps have been to people of yesteryear.

Join us on May 9th, for an expert’s insight into this little known area of local history research.

>> More info

  • Wednesday May 15th – Meadowbank Library – 14:00-15:00
  • The Muiravonside Kirkyaird – A talk by David Leask

As part of the 2019 Local History Festival, Falkirk Community Trust Libraries are pleased to welcome David Leask of the Maddiston and Rumford Local History Group to Meadowbank Library.

The theme of the 2019 is the Year of the Conversation and printed communication, which includes newspapers, letters and memorials. What better way to start a conversation, especially in Good Death Week, than to look at the information that local and family historians can find in our very own kirkyards.

Join us in Meadowbank Library for what will prove to be an informative and interesting talk.

>> More info

  • Friday May 17th – Bo’ness Library – 19:00 onwards.
  • War graves and family memorials in Bo’ness Cemetery – a talk by Robert Jardine

Come along to Bo’ness Library and join Robert Jardine for a fascinating insight into the War Graves and family memorials in Bo’ness Cemetery.

This year our libraries’ local history week coincides with Good Death Week, and this is the perfect opportunity to learn more about our fascinating and very important war memorials.

>> More info

  • Monday May 20th – Falkirk Library – 19:00.
  • Matters of Grave Concern – a talk by Ian Scott

Falkirk Library is pleased to host local historian Ian Scott as part of our local history week celebrations. Ian is the author of many fabulous books and is the very esteemed and knowledgeable Chair of the Falkirk Local History Society.

Ian will be joining us to talk about ‘Matters of Grave Concern’ – which will include a fascinating insight into gravestone iconography and a virtual tour of our local graveyards. Ian will also treat us to a light-hearted overview of some of the more memorable Falkirk epitaphs.

Join us on May 20th, for an entertaining and insightful overview – a real mixture of the grave and serious.

>> More info

  • Tuesday 21st May – Larbert Library – 18:30-20:00
  • The story of Dr John Roebuck (Carron Iron Co) and James Watt at Kinneil House, Bo’ness – talk by Ian Shearer of Friends of Kinneil

Larbert Library is pleased to host Ian Shearer of the Friends of Kinneil. Ian will be visiting Larbert Library in the bicentenary year of James Watt’s death to discuss the story of Dr. John Roebuck of the Carron Iron Company and James Watt of Kinneil House. This is a fascinating story of invention, technology and innovation which played out across the Falkirk area involving the iron works at Carron and a Hidden Gem cottage nestled in the Kinneil Estate.

Join us on the evening of May 21st, to help us celebrate the 250th anniversary of their patent for James Watt’s steam engine.

>> More info

  • Friday 24th May – Bonnybridge Library – 14:00-15:00
  • Radicals: A cultural and historical celebration of the 1820 Battle of Bonnymuir – Jim Thomson of Balfron Heritage Group and Provost Buchanan

Join Jim Thomson and Provost Buchanan at Bonnybridge Library to help us celebrate the bicentenary of the insurrection. Bonnybridge Library is hosting a Radical Art Exhibition featuring an array of fabulous work by third year art pupils at Balfron High School. The artwork is designed to commemorate the anniversary of the 1820 Battle of Bonnymuir. This fabulous exhibition was initiated by Jim Thomson of the Balfron Heritage Group who will be joining us at this event to tell us about the background to the exhibition and preparations for the insurrection bicentenary in an illustrated talk. There will even be a reading from Tom Lannon’s The Boys from Bonnymuir.

Provost Buchanan will also join us to present on the 1820 Battle of Bonnymuir itself and Scottish Radicals. Join us on May 24th, for an entertaining and insightful cultural foray into an important aspect of our local history.

>> More info

Discover James Watt at Kinneil House on April 27

• Free tours inside mansion from noon
• Additional guided visits to Watt’s cottage workshop

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Historic Kinneil House in Bo’ness is opening its doors for free tours on Saturday, April 27, 2019.

The A-listed mansion – which boasts some of the finest Renaissance wall paintings in Scotland – will be open from noon to 4 p.m. (last admission 3.30 p.m.).

Tickets for House tours will be available on the day from Kinneil Museum (in front of the House).

The event will also offer additional free, outdoor guided walks to James Watt’s cottage workshop, in the grounds of the imposing mansion.

It’s 250 years since Watt worked on developing the steam engine at the site (the patent was granted in 1769). This year, 2019, is also the 200th anniversary of Watt’s death, with special events taking place across the country.

The April 27 Kinneil event has been organised by The Friends of Kinneil charity and Historic Environment Scotland.

As well as celebrating Watt and Kinneil’s great history – it will also form part of a series of events celebrating John Muir and the John Muir Way, the coast-to-coast trail which runs through Kinneil.

Ian Shearer, Chairman of the Friends of Kinneil, said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors to Kinneil on April 27.

“The House is an amazing building, steeped in history. Our volunteer guides will be on hand to take people through the main tower and palace section, and tell Kinneil’s story.

“We’re also looking forward to providing additional guided tours to the cottage workshop used by James Watt.

“The cottage is one of the most significant historical sites along the John Muir Way. Exactly 250 years ago, this was where Watt secretly tested his newly-patented steam engine.

“This invention revolutionised industry and the world.”

As well Kinneil House and the Watt Cottage, the surrounding Estate – a public park – also features the remains of a medieval church and a Roman fortlet, once part of the Antonine Wall.

Amy Mack from Historic Environment Scotland said: “We’re delighted the John Muir Way is celebrating five years this week, helping to boost tourism at many historical properties along the route from Helensburgh to Dunbar.

“Here at Kinneil, with the Antonine Wall World Heritage Site and a magnificent 16th-century palace as a backdrop, James Watt was surrounded by history as he developed his most famous invention.”

ABOUT KINNEIL HOUSE

The current House is thought to date from the 1500s and was home to the powerful Dukes of Hamilton.

It was extended in 1553 with the addition of the “palace section”. This was built by James Hamilton, the 2nd Earl of Arran – who served as Regent of Scotland (effectively the acting King) for 12 years. This section boasts amazing Renaissance wall paintings, said to be some of the best in Scotland.

In 1667, William, 3rd Duke of Hamilton and his wife Anne launched a major expansion of Kinneil House. Within a century, however, the Hamiltons had ceased to use Kinneil, and rented it out to tenants.

Those tenants included the 18th century industrialist Dr John Roebuck, one of the founders of nearby Carron Iron Works, who brought inventor James Watt to the estate, and the 19th century philosopher Dugald Stewart and his family.

In later years, Kinneil House fell into decline and the House and parklands were sold to Bo’ness Town Council in the 1920s. Demolition work within the main House started in the 1930s; however, work was halted when the Renaissance wall paintings were discovered.

The building was put into the care of the Ministry of Works – now Historic Environment Scotland – and opened to the public. However, regular openings ended in the 1980s due to low visitor numbers.

In 2006, The Friends of Kinneil was set up. It has worked with Historic Environment Scotland to increase public access to the House and promote the development of the surrounding estate and area. In 2016 it won a Scottish Heritage Angel Award for its activities.

Kinneil House, Museum and Estate are on the western edge of Bo’ness in central Scotland, just off the A904 and A993.

For more information visit http://www.kinneil.org – or discover the Friends of Kinneil on social media at http://www.facebook.com/kinneil and http://www.twitter.com/kinneil.

John Muir Day celebrations logo

This year’s John Muir Week celebrations run from 20-28 April, with details of events at http://www.discoverjohnmuir.com/muir-events and http://www.twitter.com/JohnMuirWay.

Details of the national programme of events for the James Watt 2019 year are at http://www.jameswatt.scot/events and http://www.twitter.com/watt2019.

Other open days at Kinneil for the rest of 2019 will be announced soon.

James Watt's Cottage at Kinneil Estate, Bo'ness

James Watt’s Cottage at Kinneil Estate, Bo’ness

GOING TO THE KINNEIL OPEN DAY? WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

HOW: Book a timed tour inside the House by visiting Kinneil Museum – the red-roofed building in front of the big mansion – on the day of the open day. Tours will run at regular intervals from noon, leaving from the museum and walking the short distance into the House. Last admission to the mansion is 3.30 p.m. Volunteer guides will be on hand to take the tours and to answer any questions. Additional volunteers are in the museum to help you. The Museum opens early around noon on open days (normally it opens at 12.30 p.m.). At this special event, there will also be free additional outdoor guided visits to James Watt’s Cottage (no tickets or booking required), leaving from outside the Museum at 12.30 p.m., 1.30 p.m. and 2.30 p.m.

COST: Admission to the House, Museum and James Watt tours are all free of charge. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

ADVANCE TICKETS: Currently tour tickets are only available on the day from the museum. You can’t book tickets in advance or online. Numbers on each house tour are limited for health and safety reasons.

ACCESS: The House is around 500 years old in parts – and doesn’t have a lift. Everyone can get access to the oldest section, the Tower House (albeit just to a platform inside the tower). For the Palace section, you have to go down a few stairs to reach the ground floor. There is also one flight of stairs up to the star attractions, the painted rooms. There are two further flights of stairs to displays on the top floor …. Neighbouring Kinneil Museum also has stairs; however, there is a ramped access to the ground floor and an accessible toilet. The Museum also has an iPad with images of rooms inside Kinneil House. Key paths around the Estate, including for the outdoor visits to the James Watt Cottage, are also accessible using wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

PARKING: In front of the House and museum. If in doubt, ask one of the volunteers across the site.

PHOTOGRAPHY: No flash photography is allowed in the painted rooms at Kinneil.

REFRESHMENTS: A stall selling drinks and sweet treats is normally operational during open days. If you want a meal, you can find cafes and restaurants around Bo’ness. (Sorry – but you can’t take food or drinks into Kinneil House itself!)

OTHER THINGS TO SEE: The museum offers displays and maps about the surrounding Estate, which also boasts a Roman fortlet, the ruins of a medieval church and a cottage workshop used by inventor James Watt.

DIRECTIONS: The postcode is EH51 0PR.

QUERIES: Ask volunteers at the event, or email the Friends: info@kinneil.org.uk

See inside Kinneil House on March 23

kinneilhouse-boness-exterioraa.jpgHistory fans can get a peek inside historic Kinneil House, Bo’ness, on Saturday, March 23, 2019.

The Friends of Kinneil charity has teamed up with Historic Environment Scotland to run free tours inside the mansion, which dates back to the 16th century.

Tours will run from noon to 4 p.m., with the last admission at 3.30 p.m.

All tours will run from Kinneil Museum. You’ll be allocated a timed tour on the day, on a first-come, first served basis. Normally tours run every 15 to 20 minutes.

Please note, for safety reasons, there are restrictions on the number of people we can accommodate on each tour – and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

The event is being run to support the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival, which is running in Bo’ness over the same weekend. 

Vintage silent movies of the Bo’ness Fair will also be on show in the museum through the afternoon.

Keep visiting this site and our social media feeds on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

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Inside Kinneil House – Arbour Room


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

HOW: Book a timed tour of the House by visiting Kinneil Museum – the red-roofed building in front of the big mansion – on the day of the open day. Tours normally run every 15 minutes from noon, leaving from the museum and walking the short distance into the House. Last admission to the mansion is 3.30 p.m. Volunteer guides will be on hand to take the tours and to answer any questions. Additional volunteers are in the museum to help you. The Museum opens early around noon on open days (normally it opens at 12.30 p.m.).

COST: Admission to the House and the Museum is free of charge. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

ADVANCE TICKETS: Currently tour tickets are only available on the day from the museum. You can’t book tickets in advance or online. Numbers on each tour are limited for health and safety reasons.

ACCESS: The House is around 500 years old in parts – and doesn’t have a lift. Everyone can get access to the oldest section, the Tower House (albeit just to a platform inside the tower). For the Palace section, you have to go down a few stairs to reach the ground floor. There is also one flight of stairs up to the star attractions, the painted rooms. There are two further flights of stairs to displays on the top floor …. Neighbouring Kinneil Museum also has stairs; however, there is a ramped access to the ground floor and an accessible toilet. The Museum also has an iPad with images of rooms inside Kinneil House …. Key paths around the Estate are also accessible using wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

PARKING: In front of the House and museum. If in doubt, ask one of the volunteers across the site.

PHOTOGRAPHY: No flash photography is allowed in the painted rooms at Kinneil.

REFRESHMENTS: A stall selling drinks and sweet treats is normally operational during open days. If you want a meal, you can find cafes and restaurants around Bo’ness. (Sorry – but you can’t take food or drinks into Kinneil House itself!)

OTHER THINGS TO SEE: The museum offers displays and maps about the surrounding Estate, which also boasts a Roman fortlet, the ruins of a medieval church and a cottage workshop used by inventor James Watt.

DIRECTIONS: The postcode is EH51 0PR.

QUERIES: Ask volunteers at the event, or email the Friends: info@kinneil.org.uk 

SUPPORTING FILM FESTIVAL

The event on March 23, supports the Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema, taking place at the historic Hippodrome Cinema and other venues around Bo’ness.

Download the festival brochure http://bit.ly/2TxZVEm

Hippfest brochure

Speaker praises Watt at annual supper

The Friends of Kinneil welcomed Dr Nina Baker as guest speaker at the charity’s annual James Watt Supper on Friday, January 18.

She gave an entertaining and educational speech on James Watt – who did early work to improve the steam engine at Kinneil Estate.

Dr Baker is a former Councillor/Baillie of Glasgow City Council. She has had had a varied career as a Merchant Navy deck officer, engineer, academic and politician.

Ian Shearer, the chair of the Friends, thanked Dr Baker for her contribution to the event, held in St Mary’s Church in Bo’ness.

He said: “Nina is a noted enthusiast for Glasgow, James Watt, for science and engineering, for their history and for promoting the role of women in those disciplines.”

We’ve republished Nina’s full speech below. 

Happy two hundred and eighty third birthday, James Watt

Thank you so much for honouring me by this invitation to speak to all you lovely Friends of Kinneil -at your annual dinner. As it is a birthday celebration I thought I would focus on those two essentials of a birthday party: friendships and music.

Let us imagine the young James Watt – only 18, not yet considered an adult in those days – arriving in Glasgow, from Greenock, knowing only his relation, George Muirhead. He apparently quickly made himself so friendly with Robert Dick, ayoung professor of natural philosophy, or physics as we would term it, that the academic gave him advice on his career plans, thereby sending our young man off to London.

When he came back to Glasgow, now just about an adult but still without the contacts in the city that a traditional apprenticeship and journeymanship might have provided, James managed to fall on his feet again. I think we have to compare what he must have been like as a person with what we know of the famously reclusive Isaac Newton of a generation previously. James Watt was friendly and sociable and we hear of him attending some of the men’s dining clubs which abounded in the city in those times. People clearly took to him quickly and remained firm friends thereafter.

James was soon on friendly terms with the city’s most significant academics, gaining their confidence in his abilities. Bearing in mind that he had little formal schooling and never attended any university lectures, this is a testament to how quick on the uptake James Watt must have been in talking with men of such standing. They found him work, gave him advice, taught him all their latest theories and remained his close friends until death. Professor Joseph Black, a dozen years older, was probably his best friend – in every sense – from this period.

Black’s theories of latent and specific heat were the key to James Watt’s greatest invention. I am not going to go on about steam at this point but the friendship of James and Joseph was a benefit to us all. This was just one of many social contacts which James Watt enjoyed in Glasgow – he also joined a local Freemasons’ lodge, and despite the scurrilous comments sometimes repeated – he was a member of the Incorporation of Hammermen. And yes, I would say that wouldn’t I, what with being one of the Masters of the Hammermen.

Next time you are in the Science Museum’s Watt Gallery, I suggest you might take a look at the chart of the network of friends and colleagues with whom James Watt maintained lifelong links. It seems that once met, never forgotten. Even at the end of his life, contacts back in Glasgow got in touch to ask him if he could help out by designing a flexible water main to go under the river at Dalmarnock where the river bed is very uneven.

James responded with a design of overlapping sections, similar to a lobster tail or suit of armour.  An example to us all of the benefits of social and professional networking and generally keeping in touch. Of course, people wrote a lot of letters then and the horse-drawn mail system seems to have beennearly as quick as email.

Life for James in Glasgow was not as easy financially as it was socially and he did a whole lot of things to try to make his way in the world.  His twenties were a time of a number of commercial efforts – making and selling trinkets, mathematical, navigational and musical instruments from a succession of workshops and shopfronts in what we now think of as the Merchant City. After James’ work for the university ended he had shops in the Saltmarket, Trongate, and King Street, with workshops in a variety of places.

And of course also at the Delftfield Pottery in what is now James Watt Street, where he was a partner and had another workshop.

He would really have liked to have made a living making and selling the sort of mathematical and navigational instruments he learned to make in London. But Glasgow in the 1760s was small. It was not a seaport and to sell what he made he generally had to rely on contacts to sell them for him elsewhere such as Bristol.

So, his wee shop in the town also sold all sorts of other items, some known as toys – in those days toys were not necessarily children’s playthings but could be all sorts of items. The word originally meant device, trick or ornament, by coincidence for his later life, pretty much what his future partner Matthew Boulton’s company made.

We know that James Watt in this period also made and sold musical instruments and their components. Again, the Watt Gallery in the London Science Museum has a display of various bits and bobs – bits of flutes and special tools  for making them – which he packed up and took to Birmingham when he moved there.

However we also know, largely from letters and accounts books, that he was making a wide range of stringed and wind instruments, such as flutes, guitars, violins and viol da gambas which are similar to a cello.

An interesting spur to this direction of his work was that various friends and acquaintances asked him to make instruments, which is testament to his practical skills since Watt himself was the first to admit to having no ear for music and did not  enjoy listening to it. It was even said that he found it physically painful to listen to music.

Which brings me to an odd bit of Watt’s history. In keeping with our birthday party theme, this story has strong resemblences to the game we played as kids, known as Chinese Whispers, where a phrase is repeated until its sense has changed utterly. In Glasgow’s museums store is a small wooden chamber organ, clearly labelled and indeed catalogued as the James Watt Organ, on the understanding that it was made by the great man himself.

I have spent several entertaining days chasing down dusty documents in the Mitchell Library and of course online too to try to get the evidence for this. Although a recent renovation and inspection by a local organ builder concluded that it was of the correct period and included metal components unusual at the time, I have been forced to conclude that it is not possible to be certain that it was built by James Watt.

The labelling and attribution seem to have come about by a combination of hero-worship, hagiography, wishful thinking and ordinary muddles. Even during his lifetime the level of hero-worship of the James Watt ‘brand’ was endemic. All sorts of memorabilia were produced for the public – medallions, busts, images and so on. So it is not surprising that there was the strong desire to own something he was said to have made. Of course fact-checking is much easier in this internet age than in the days when only rich men had libraries to consult. Once the organ starts to be mentioned in print it is as though the ‘fact’ of James Watt having made it himself is set forever,  like a fossil, with each writer merely repeating or elaborating on the previous publication.

The only organs he is absolutely known to have made for which we have descriptions, bear absolutely no resemblance to ours. At best we might hope that ours is some sort of experimental ‘test bed’ instrument for him to try out some innovative ideas which it contains. No proof however. Ah well.

Here at Kinneil however, provenance is no problem at all! You know you have the Watt Cottage where you know he did his experimental development of the separate steam condenser. You know the role of his friend and patron, Dr John Roebuck, himself a significant inventor, in supporting Watt at that time, ultimately to his own disadvantage.

When we compare the various structures associated with our national Bard, Rabbie Burns, a contemporary of Watt’s, it is noticeable that they are in far better repair and fame than this cottage at Kinneil. If the idea for the separate steam condenser was conceived on Glasgow Green,  the cottage here could arguably be said to be the very cradle of the steam age in which Watt’s device began its development. Surely in the bicentenary of Watt’s death and the 250th anniversary of the condenser’s patent, it is shaming to a nation which is justifiably proud of its massive industrial heritage that so little has been done to enhance the story the cottage could convey if in better repair.

There is admittedly little left of the physicality of many of the UK’s great engineering centres, but 2019 is also the centenary year of two engineering organisations: The Newcomen Society founded during a dinner in 1919 to commemorate the centenary of James Watt’s death, in order that the history of British Engineering should have its own learned society. And the other was the Women’s Engineering Society also founded in 1919, to support those women who had become engineers during the first world war but whom the law required to be sacked when peace came. The Society continues to work to encourage engineering careers for women and  the centenary will be bringing to light the stories of Scotswomen in engineering as well as others across the UK.

The young people whom we all hope will take up engineering careers in greater numbers, can learn a lot from James Watt and the two societies I just mentioned. Watt showed us the benefits of a clear grasp of first principles and also the benefits of professional and social networks in advancing knowledge as much as careers. Also we need to help the general public appreciate the wealth generated by manufacturing and innovation and how our proud history of these is the foundation from which to go forward.

I would like to conclude with a toast and a new year’s resolution: “To engineering and to friendship”.

DR NINA BAKER

Special year to celebrate James Watt

He was one of the pioneers of the Industrial Revolution. He became so famous his name was used to denote a unit of energy.

Now – in 2019 – heritage chiefs are going “full steam ahead” with efforts to honour him.

Today, January 5, marks the 250th anniversary of the patent of James Watt’s “separate condenser” – the invention which radically improved steam engines and changed the world. August 2019 will also be the 200th anniversary of Watt’s death.

In his native Scotland and across the UK, museums, galleries and professional bodies are marking the year with special events and celebrations.

A new website – http://www.jameswatt.scot – has also been launched to promote forthcoming events and highlight Watt’s ongoing significance.

Miles Oglethorpe, Head of Industrial Heritage at Historic Environment Scotland (HES), said: “It looks like 2019 is going to be a great year.

“Partners are working on lots of activities to celebrate Watt and his achievements. As dates are confirmed, we’ll publicise these on our new website and through the media. We’ve also been highlighting places with Watt connections for people to visit. Hopefully, our efforts will make people more aware of this great Scot and his amazing contributions that changed the world.”

Events for 2019 will include:

• a focus on Watt at the Glasgow Science Festival and at the University of Glasgow (where Watt worked) through a range of events including a symposium and exhibition;
• exhibitions at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, the Engine Shed centre in Stirling and the Riverside Museum in Glasgow;
• celebratory events at Kinneil House, Bo’ness (home to a Watt workshop) and Kennetpans, Clackmannanshire, once home to Scotland’s first Boulton and Watt engine;
• the re-opening of the McLean Museum and its Watt Library – to be renamed The Watt Institution – in Watt’s hometown of Greenock, after a major refurbishment programme; and
• a James Watt Supper, run by the Friends of Kinneil charity in Bo’ness.

There will also be a programme of activities around Birmingham, where Watt spent much of his later life.

Read the full story on the JamesWatt.Scot website.

The new James Watt website

Join Friends at special Watt supper

IMG_9150-002The Friends of Kinneil charity in Bo’ness is holding its annual James Watt Supper on January 18. The event celebrates the local links with the Scottish inventor and is held  around the time of Watt’s birthday each January.

The Supper is open to Friends members and non-members. Full details are listed below.

A Friends spokesman said: “We do hope you will be able to attend this great community celebration of one of Scotland’s most globally-recognised figures. The cost to members and their guests is the same as previous years, just £10 per head. (Cost to non-members is £15, or £16 as a special offer to include a new membership subscription).”

James Watt's signature

THE DETAILS

Summary: The 2019 James Watt Supper will have added significance as 2019 marks the 250th anniversary of the patent (granted on 5th January 1769) for James Watt‘s most famous invention, the condensing steam engine, developed in partnership with Dr John Roebuck of Kinneil (co-founder of the Carron Iron Co).

It is also the 250th anniversary of the only surviving building in Scotland directly associated with Watt‘s work, his workshop at Kinneil – the James Watt Cottage.

The year 2019 also marks the bicentenary (200th anniversary) of Watt‘s death in August 1819.

There will be a series of significant commemorative events taking place throughout the year across Scotland, the UK and beyond.

The evening will include a three-course buffet meal followed by traditional music – this year with the wonderful Kinneil Band.

The Friends will also welcome Dr Nina Baker, a former Councillor/Baillie of Glasgow City Council, as the guest speaker. Dr Baker has had a varied career as a Merchant Navy deck officer, engineer, academic and politician. She is a noted enthusiast for Glasgow, James Watt, for science and engineering, for their history and for promoting the role of women in those disciplines.

If you would like to have an alcoholic drink with your meal, please bring this with you. However, the organisers will provide soft drinks.

Event website: http://www.kinneil.org

Date(s) of event: Friday, January 18, 2019

Start and finish times/admission times: 7 for 7.30 p.m. start.

Location – the full address of the event venue, including a postcode: St Mary’s RC Church Hall, Linlithgow Road, Bo’ness EH51 0DP (this is opposite the Esso petrol station at a crossroads). Map to venue here.

Admission cost: The cost to Friends’ members and guests is the same as previous years, just £10 per head. (Cost to non-members is £15, or £16 as a special offer to include a new membership subscription to the Friends of Kinneil).

Tickets: Please RSVP as soon as possible (also confirming the names of anyone accompanying you) via e-mail (to info@kinneil.org.uk) or telephone/text on 07919-927002 to our Secretary, Catherine Johnston – to whom a cheque payable to ‘The Friends of Kinneil’, to reserve the tickets (for collection at the door), can then also be sent c/o Mrs Catherine Johnston, The Friends of Kinneil Secretary, 14 Kinglass Avenue, Bo’ness, EH51 9QA.

Email for enquiries: info@kinneil.org.uk

Telephone number for enquiries: 07919-927002 (Secretary – Catherine Johnston)

Access to venue (parking/transport links/access for people with disabilities): The venue has a ramped access and a car park next to the church. Buses from Stirling, Falkirk and Edinburgh serve Bo’ness. You can also get a train to Linlithgow and then a taxi or bus to Bo’ness.

Any additional relevant information: It’s the charity’s ninth James Watt Supper.

Visit Kinneil Museum this yuletide

20180427_084046Out and about during the Christmas holidays? Pop in and visit Kinneil Museum in Bo’ness. The former 17th century coach house is the interpretative centre for the wonderful Kinneil Estate – and admission is free.

The Museum is normally open six afternoons a week (12.30 p.m. to 4 p.m) – and closed on Tuesdays.

It features hands-on exhibits and an audio visual show.

FESTIVE CLOSURES

Please note that the Museum will be closed on December 25 and 26, and then re-opening on December 27. It will also be closed on January 1 and 2, 2019 for the New Year break.

There will also be 3 p.m. closures on Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24 and Hogmanay, Monday, December 31.

At other times, the normal opening hours should apply.

Visit the Falkirk Community Trust website for more info.

 

 

Discover James Watt

The year 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of inventor James Watt – who did early work to develop the steam engine here at Kinneil.

A new website www.jameswatt.scot gives more information on the man and his legacy and highlights sites to visit, including Kinneil.

It’s been supported by a number of partners including Historic Environment Scotland.

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Nearly 2000 visit Kinneil House in 2018

Nearly 2000 people visited Kinneil House in 2018 – over just eight open days.

Figures collated by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) show that 1951 people went on a tour inside the building over the past year.

HES worked with The Friends of Kinneil to run the open events, which were free of charge. They ran from March to October. Volunteer guides were on hand to show people amazing renaissance wall paintings and recount the building’s rich history.

The events have now ended for the year – however, neighbouring Kinneil Museum remains open throughout the winter months.

It is normally open every afternoon from 12.30 p.m. to 4 p.m., except Tuesdays.

Please note there will be some closures over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

The Arbour Room inside Kinneil House in Bo'ness

The Arbour Room inside Kinneil House in Bo’ness