The James Watt diaries

The James Watt diaries


Historians have extensively studied the achievements of the Scottish engineer James Watt Jr, seen by many as the father of the steam engines that powered the Industrial Revolution.

However, despite their efforts Watt the man often remains a mysterious figure. Now researcher Eleanor Beestin has explored Watt’s personal notebooks and correspondence, preserved in the Wolfson Centre for archival research at the Library of Birmingham, to reveal Watt’s state of mind, his relationships with family and friends and his unspoken fears.

She talked to History West Midlands publisher Mike Gibbs.

Keywords: James Watt, Eleanor Beestin, Industrial Revolution, Library of Birmingham

The Power to change the world

‘Those who consider James Watt only as a great practical mechanic form a very erroneous idea of his character: he was equally distinguished as a natural philosopher and a chemist, and his inventions demonstrate his profound knowledge of those sciences, and that peculiar characteristic of genius, the union of them...



Michael Gibbs, Publisher


Eleanor Beestin

In: Watt, Lunar Society, Steam,

History WM iTunes Podcast