Steam engine receives heritage award

Posted on 29 Aug 2019 and read 460 times
Steam engine receives heritage awardTo recognise its importance in inspiring James Watt’s pioneering achievements, the Newcomen model steam engine in the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow has received an Engineering Heritage Award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) (

When the young James Watt, who was working as an instrument maker at the University of Glasgow, was asked to repair the Newcomen model engine during the winter of 1763-1764, he realised that it could be improved significantly, which led to his invention of the separate steam condenser.

This breakthrough transformed the design of steam engines, making them more efficient and cheaper to run, and it is recognised as a key ingredient that sparked the Industrial Revolution.

The IMechE Engineering Heritage Award was presented to the Hunterian Museum at a special event in Glasgow on 19 August, six days before the 200th anniversary of James Watt’s death on 25 August, 1819.

Colin Brown, chief executive of the IMechE, said: “James Watt’s brilliance was of huge benefit to society and contributed to the process of industrial innovation that continues today.”

Nicky Reeves, curator of the scientific and medical history collections at the Hunterian Museum, said: “Instruments and models used — and repaired — at the University of Glasgow in the 18th century are a powerful way for museum audiences to engage with the history of education, the history of science and technology, and the intertwined histories of industry and Empire.

"We are delighted that the IMechE continues to acknowledge and commemorate heritage items held in museum collections.”

This is the 127th Engineering Heritage Award to be presented by the IMechE.

The award scheme, established in 1984, aims to promote artefacts, sites or landmarks of significant engineering importance.

Previous winners include Alan Turing’s Bombe at Bletchley Park, the E-Type Jaguar and Concorde.

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