Women and child workers: At the Soho sites of Matthew Boulton and James Watt


In the 1770s, a partnership developing practical steam power began between the English manufacturer, Matthew Boulton, and the Scottish steam engine inventor, James Watt. This partnership was successful and in 1796 they established a foundry in Smethwick,
Birmingham, to have a specialised production unit for their steam engines. It joined Boulton’s Manufactory and Mint, in Handsworth, to form the Soho Sites. These enterprises contained a wide range of workers, including women and teenage boys. Documents kept by the company reveal the nature and extent of the relationship between employers and employees.

Keywords: Soho, steam, Boulton, Watt, Smethwick, Birmingham, Women, Children, Caitlin Russell

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