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Driving - South East Steam Engines


Scotland has a rich industrial heritage that can boast some of the most influential names of the Industrial Revolution. By the mid 18th century Scotland had already began its transformation into an industrial nation. The main impetus came from the tobacco trade with the American colonies, but when the American Civil War put an end to this, linen and later cotton manufacture took its place as the dominant industry.

The greatest influence on the development of the Industrial Revolution was by a Scottish engineer and inventor James Watt, who, in partnership with Matthew Boulton, provided the power to drive the wheels of industry in Scotland, Britain and the world. The Scottish Industrial Trail retells the story of James Watt and his struggle to develop his beam engine at Kenneil. The trail also includes a lead mine and an iron works that utilised the power of a Watt engine, as well as visiting New Lanark, the largest cotton producer in Scotland in the early 19th century and made famous by the social and educational reforms of Robert Owen.

 

 

1. Kenneil Estate and James Watt's Cottage

James Watt was born on 19th January 1736 in Greenock. His father, James senior, was a prominent businessman in the area and was elected as the Chief Magistrate of the town.

James suffered illhealth as a child and initially did not perform well academically. However, in his early teens his abilities started to show through when began to excel in mathematics.

A particular story from Watt's childhood recalls how his auntie once told him off for wasting time playing with the steam from the kettle. The young Watt would catch the steam with a spoon and watch as the droplets condensed and fell to the ground. Little did his auntie know that steam would be the key to his fame and fortune.

Watt lived at home until he was eighteen and he enjoyed experimenting in his father's workshop making models of pulleys, cranes and other nautical instruments. James's mother died in 1753 and the following year he went to Glasgow to learn the craft of a mathematical instrument maker. However, there was no one in the city that could teach him this trade, so he was advised by a professor from the University to go to London to seek his training.

In 1755 Watt journeyed to London with a letter of introduction from the professor. However, Watt faced difficult times in London because the guilds and companies that controlled the various trades that were practiced in the city, operated a "closed shop" policy. No one was able to set up in business unless they had served a seven year apprenticeship, and as a "foreigner" in the city Watt had no right to undertake any such apprenticeship.

He did however, manage to find a craftsmen who was prepared to break the rules. It was agreed that the craftsman would teach Watt for a year, and in return he would give his labour for free and pay the sum of 20 guineas. Watt worked very hard to learn the skills of a seven year apprenticeship in just one year. After this time he decided to return to Glasgow.

At first Watt faced the same problems of being a "foreigner" as in London. However, the professor that he had met on his previous stay in the city employed him to repair a set of astronomical equipment at the University of Glasgow. So impressed were they at the quality of Watt's craftsmanship that they took him on full time as a mathematical instrument maker. During his time at the university he became friends with many of the scientists who studied there, and through discussions with them he became well versed in a variety of subjects.

In 1763 he repaired a model of Newcomen's atmospheric engine that belonged to the university. After he had got it working again he found the engine was only capable of making one or two strokes at a time. On closer inspection he realised that one of the fundamental flaws of Newcomen's engine was much of the steam was wasted. In order to create the vacuum to pull down the piston, the cylinder had to be cooled with a jet of water. Each time fresh steam was injected into the cylinder for the new stroke it went on condensing until it had heated the cylinder up to its own temperature. Watt's solution was to introduce a separate condensing vessel so that the cylinder could always be kept hot and the steam would not be wasted.

In Newcomen's engine the piston was drawn up by the weight of the beam, and another one of Watt's alterations was to enclose the piston completely. This meant that Watt's engine was now "two stroke" in that the piston was pulled up, as well as down, by the vacuum created by the condensed steam.

Watt made these discoveries in 1765 and patented them in 1769, but it was another ten years until he was able to produce an effective engine that was able to put the new design into practice.

Watt needed money to finance the development and construction of the engine, as he had already built up considerable debt in his initial development on the designs. One of Watt's best friends, Joseph Black, introduced him to Dr John Roebuck who was a physician from Birmingham. Roebuck had set up an iron works at Carron, near Falkirk, which was opened on 1st January 1760.

Roebuck knew the advantage a steam engine would give to his iron works, the production of which was limited by the effectiveness of water power to blast air into the furnaces. After much discussion Roebuck decided to enter into an agreement with Watt. He would pay off Watt's outstanding debt of £1000 and finance the future costs of securing a patent. In return he was to own two-thirds of the property rights of the invention.

Watt spent much of his time making alterations and adjustments to the design of the engine and Roebuck became impatient by the lack of visible progress. He decided Watt should build a prototype engine that could be used to pump water from his Bo'ness coal mines. A workshop was erected in 1769 behind Roebuck's house at Kenneil, from where Watt would build the engine.

The trial engine was not entirely successful and suffered from many problems including the inaccuracy of the parts made for it by Roebuck's Carron Ironworks. At this time Roebuck started to suffer from financial problems incurred from the cost of building the engine and setting up the coal mines at Bo'ness to supply the iron works.

In 1769 Roebuck was forced to sell one-third of the property rights of the engine for £1000 to a friend of his, Matthew Boulton, who had set up an engineering works at Soho, near Birmingham. However, Roebuck's financial position worsened and in 1772 he went bankrupt. His affairs were put in the hands of trustees and Boulton was able to take over the full patent for the engine.

In 1774 Watt left Glasgow to join Boulton at his Soho works. The Kenneil engine was brought down in pieces and re-erected to pump water for the water wheels that drove the factory. The Soho factory was equipped with the most up-to-date machinery, and the quality and accuracy of the work was far higher than that of the Carron Ironworks.

Boulton was concerned, however, that if he invested heavily to develop and manufacture the engine, he may not reap the financial rewards because the initial patent had already run for six of its fourteen years.

After much debate in Parliament it was decided to grant Boulton and Watt a further 25 year patent, which meant Boulton was now secure in the knowledge that he could safely manufacture the engine on an extensive scale. The rest, as they say, is history with Boulton's business acumen and Watt's engineering genius combining to provide the engines that supplied the power for the Industrial Revolution. Watt's design for the beam engine was to be the model that was used for the next 100 years.

Kenneil Museum is housed in the 17th century stableblocks of Kenneil House and recounts the history of the estate from its origins as a Roman fortlet. Adjacent to Kenneil House, which is not open to the public, is the workshop cottage used by James Watt to construct the trial engine. The large cylinder standing adjacent to the cottage is reputedly from an engine erected by Watt at one of Roebuck's Bo'ness coal pits.

Kenneil Estate and James Watt's Cottage Provost Road, Bo'ness, West Lothian Eh51 0AY Tel: 01506 778530 Open: All year, Monday to Saturday 12-4: closed Bank Holidays.

Directions: Car: On the South side of the Firth of Forth in the town of Bo'ness. Train: Linlithgow station from where there is a bus service to Bo'ness. Bus: Services run to Bo'ness from Edinburg, Linlithgow, Bathgate, Falkirk, Stirling, Cumbernauld and Glasgow.

While in Bo'ness you can take a ride on the Bo'ness and Kenneil Railway which runs a distance of 3 ½ miles along the Firth of Forth to Birkhill Clay Mine. Here visitors can discover the story of fireclay and see 300 million year old fossils in the underground tunnels of Birkhill. Experienced guides help explain how the fireclay was mined, what it was used for and its important role in the Industrial Revolution.

Bo'ness and Kenneil Railway Bo'ness Station, Union Street, Bo'ness, West Lothian EH51 9AQ Tel: 01506 822298 http://www.srps.org.uk/railway/ Open: Easter to mid October, weekends 11-4. July and August, Tuesday to Sunday, 11-4.

Directions: Car: On the South shore of the Firth of Forth, 8 miles west of the Forth Bridge. Train: Linlithgow station from where there is a bus service to Bo'ness. Bus: Services run to Bo'ness from Edinburg, Linlithgow, Bathgate, Falkirk, Stirling, Cumbernauld and Glasgow.

To find out about the industrial heritage around the Falkirk District -http://www.falkirk.net/about/ironage.htm

2. Summerlee Heritage Park

All that is left of the Carron Ironworks is the company's gatehouse, but if you want to see the remains of a Scottish ironworks, then the place to visit is Summerlee Heritage Park in Coatbridge, which is based around the archaeological excavations of Summerlee Ironworks.

Before the industrial revolution, Coatbridge was a rural area with farms dotted around the countryside. The statistical account of 1799 describes the area as having 'the appearance of an immense garden'. By 1840, it had been transformed into an industrial landscape of blazing furnaces and pounding steam hammers. The coal and ironstone which lay beneath the soil provided the raw materials for this industrialisation. But it was the technology of James Watt's steam power, and the building of the Monkland Canal, that provided a means of transport enabling the Bairds of Gartsherrie and the other iron masters of Coatbridge, to forge ahead and establish the town as a leader of iron manufacture. The invention of the Hot Blast method by James Beaumont Neilson in 1828, meant that the rich ironstone deposits could be exploited more economically because Neilson's method reduced the amount of coal needed to fuel the furnaces by half.

There was also a plentiful supply of cheap labour and workers poured into the area from the Highlands and Ireland. The population rose from 1,000 in 1801 to 27,333 in 1851, but with the rapid growth in population came the social problems of poor housing, overcrowding, disease, sectarian violence and crime.

Summerlee was the third set of Hot Blast furnaces to be built beside the Monkland Canal in Coatbridge. The previous two were Gartsherrie and Dundyvan. It was constructed by Wilson and Company whose founders included two relatives of James Neilson.

By July 1836, two furnaces were in blast at Summerlee. This number was increased to four by 1839 and six by 1842. By 1857 the company was controlled by the Neilson family. The name was changed to Summerlee Iron Works and by 1868, the works had increased to eight furnaces; its maximum size.

The company believed in innovation and improvement, and by 1868 they were using waste gas from two of the blast furnaces in the Hot Blast system. Later, another five furnaces were also fitted to collect waste gas for re-use and by 1881, ammonia was also being produced from the gas.

Coatbridge became a burgh in 1885, by which time the iron industry had started to decline. Local ironstone and coal were almost exhausted and had to be brought in from the south and abroad.

The latter half of the 19th Century was also a period of tension between workers and employers, especially in Glasgow and Lanarkshire. Workers were demanding a nine hour day and there were periods of heavy unemployment causing poverty and starvation. Laws were passed to protect workers, but the legal system still favoured the employers against the workers. Wages rose in 1880, but most food prices greatly outstripped the wage rises.

After the First World War, coal mining disappeared from Coatbridge. The canal fell into disuse and even its great rival, the railway network, shrunk in the face of competition from road transport. The blast furnaces of the iron industry were gradually extinguished. Summerlee was a small site and could not stockpile raw materials, therefore could not benefit from buying in bulk. The Depression following the Wall Street crash of 1929 killed off many firms, especially in the heavy industries which used iron or iron-based products. By 1932 the blast furnaces were closed and in 1938 the works were demolished.

Many of the engineering and manufacturing industries which had grown up around the iron industry survived. The Second World War restored the area to almost full employment, but the post war boom could not stop the decline of the traditional industries of coal, iron and metal working. The closure of the Bairds Works in 1967 ended an era.

To enable the visitor to visualise what the works would have looked like in their heyday, a large model depicting part of the works has been installed in the main exhibition hall. Built by Angus Model Makers, Glasgow, it helps explain the processes involved in iron making and includes blast furnaces, heating stoves, railway sidings, pig beds, hydraulic hoist and outbuildings.

The model shows how iron ore, coal and limestone were taken to the top of the furnace and manually "charged" by the workers. During the smelting process the heavy iron sank to the bottom, while the impurities in the form of lighter slag, floated on the top of the iron. When the furnace was ready for tapping, the slag was run off by an upper tuyere- nozzle to be taken away and dumped. The iron was then run off by a lower tuyere (pronounced tweer) to the sand filled casting beds. Once set, the ingots were loaded up into railway wagons manually and sold for use in wrought ironworks and blacksmith's.

Summerlee Heritage Park also has an exhibition hall that houses a display of social and industrial history, and includes reconstructed workshops, such as a brass foundry and tinsmith's. There is also a reconstructed coal mine and an engine house with an 1810 beam engine from Farme Colliery.

Summerlee Heritage Park Heritage Way, Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire ML5 1QD Tel: 01236 431261 Open: All year, daily 10-5.

Directions: Car: From the Eastbound M8, exit at junction 8 and follow the signposts to Coatbridge and Summerlee. From Westbound A8(M), follow signs for Coatbridge through to the town centre and Summerlee. Train: Travel to Coatbridge Sunnyside or Coatbridge Central Station. It is a 5 minutes walk to the main entrace, while Coatbridge Central is just 150 metres from the museum. Bus: Local bus stops are located winthin 2-3 minutes walk from Summerlee. Ask for Coatbridge Town Centre or Coatbridge Fountain.

3. New Lanark World Heritage Village

One of the most famous names associated with industry in Scotland is that of the historic village of New Lanark, which was founded as a brand new industrial settlement in 1785 and is still a living working community. It became a world famous model community under the enlightened management of Robert Owen, who introduced his Utopian social experiment in the early 19th century.

In 1784 David Dale, a banker from Glasgow, walked along the banks of the River Clyde with the "father of the factory system" Richard Arkwright (see North West Textile Trail). They agreed that a location near the fast flowing falls at Corra Linn would make an excellent site for a water powered cotton mill. The two went into partnership and work started on the ambitious project. Dale dissolved the partnership in 1785 and continued with the construction as the sole proprietor.

In 1786 the first spinning began and by 1793 there were four mills. The water wheels powered 6000 spindles in the first mill and 4500 in the second. In the third mill the spindles were operated by 55 "common" jennies while the fourth mill provided workshops, storage and accommodation.

Of the 1157 people employed in the mills in 1793, only 362 were adults, while the rest were young boys and girls. It was not unusual in the 18th century for young children to be working, but the way Dale looked after his workers was better than most. The school established by Dale at New Lanark provided education for children working in the mill and by 1796 it employed 16 teachers who instructed over 500 pupils in reading, writing and arithmetic.

New Lanark's most famous owner was Robert Owen, who was born in Wales in 1771, and became involved in the textile industry from an early age. He became acquainted with Dale's eldest daughter Caroline after a chance meeting in Glasgow and in 1799 they were married. The following year Robert Owen took over New Lanark from his father-in-law.

At first the workers were skeptical of their new employer, but this changed during the American embargo of 1806 when the New Lanark mills lay silent for a number of months. During this time Owen paid his workers their full wage and made no deductions.

Owen was keen to implement his social experiment, but was restrained by his backers who were only interested in the profits of the New Lanark mills. By 1814 he had dissolved two partnerships but had found the backing of some wealthy London Quakers who were as interested in his experiment as the cotton mills.

The principles of Owen's idea were relatively straight forward. He felt that although the technical development over the previous fifty years had been immense, the most important element of a successful industrial society, the welfare of the workers, had been ignored. He believed the exploitation of labour, particularly child labour, and the squalid working conditions, led to discontented and inefficient workers. His answer was to introduce good housing, good education and discliplined, well organised, but benevolent working conditions that he felt would produce a contented and efficient workforce.

The single greatest legacy of Robert Owen's New Lanark is in the field of education and this is reflected in his principal momuments in the village; the school and the New Institution for the Formation of Character, later known as the Institute. It was within the walls of these buildings that the system of infant education, as we now know it in Britain, and indeed much of the world, began in 1826.

The basis of Owen's eduation system was the encouragement of an appetite for knowledge, not through punishment and rewards, both of which were banned from the School, but through a nurturing of the senses. Singing, dancing and the appreciation of nature were all part of the learning process.

In 1824 Robert Owen moved from New Lanark and invested in an experimental co-operative venture at Harmony in Indiana. Over the following 125 years New Lanark lay almost forgotten with subsequent owners lacking Dale and Owen's flair and business acumen. In 1967 the mills were closed for the final time.

The village was bought by the New Lanark Conservation Trust in 1974 who set about restoring the village. For the first time in its history, the village had its share of owner occupiers, though as owners of A-listed buildings they were bound by certain strict regulations to protect the villages unique architecture. By the mid 1990s there were 45 tenancies and 20 occupied houses and by 1997 the living community had risen to 200.

The potential for tourism was also realised and a visitors centre was established. The centre includes a ride that recreates the experiences of a 19th century mill worker, and also working textile machinery. Other exhibits include restored mill workers' homes, a period village store and Robert Owen's house. It is now a nominated World Heritage Site and attracts over ½ million visitors a year.

New Lanark World Heritage Village New Lanark Mills, Lanark, Strathclyde ML11 9DB Tel: 01555 661345 http://www.newlanark.org/ Open: All year, daily 11-5

Directions: Car: One mile south of Lanark, signposted on all major routes. Train: Trains run every hour from Glasgow Central or Motherwell to Lanark Railway Station. Bus: Local buses run from Lanark Railway Station and Tourist Information Centre.

4. Museum of Lead Mining, Wanlockhead

The museum of lead mining is located at Wanlockhead, the highest village in Scotland. The museum is the most complete record of lead mining in Scotland. Although the extraction of lead has taken place at many localities within Scotland, Wanlockhead and the neighbouring village Leadhills, are the areas where the industry has had the greatest long-term impact.

Lead has been mined in a systematic and commercial manner in the area since the early 18th Century and the museum reflects this. Visitors to the museum can take a guided tour of the Locknell mine, which is an adit that was driven into the hillside in 1710. Within the mine they can see Galena, which is the dominant type of lead ore in the area, and examine the techniques used by the miners to follow and exploit the lead bearing veins.

Around the village of Wanlockhead, there is a great deal of evidence of both the extraction and processing of lead ore. There are many spoil heaps at the former entrances to the numerous mines, that can provide rich pickings to mineral collectors and geologists. There are the outlines of buildings at the mine heads where one can inspect the housings constructed for the engines and water wheels that powered the pumps, that in turn drained the mines. There are also the remains of crushing mills and hearths which were used to concentrate and smelt the lead.

During the late 18th Century, the mines were at the forefront of pumping technology, as the mine operators strove to drain the water from the mines, which penetrated ever deeper into the hillsides. In 1788, the second Watt steam engine to be assembled in Scotland was installed at Wanlockhead.

The development of pumping engines and the introduction of steam power, was a stimulating environment for engineers, and during the late 18th Century, a number of fine engineers were employed, including John Smeaton and Richard Murdock.

Interestingly, Wanlockhead saw the abandonment of a new technology in favour of returning to an earlier one. This was because of the high operating costs of steam engines relative to water power. The mine operators decommissioned their steam engines and returned to water power for much of the 19th Century. At the village there still remains a unique water powered beam engine which is now protected as a national monument.

Not only does the museum present a fine record of the development of mining technology and techniques, it also displays and interprets the social and economic conditions of the life and times of the miners. As part of the visitor experience at the museum, there are guided tours of cottages, which show living conditions of the miners in the mid 18th Century and towards the end of the 19th Century.

The miners became educated people. During much of the 18th Century the mines were owned by Quakers, who encouraged self-improvement. Consequently, at Leadhills and Wanlockhead, the first subscription libraries in Scotland were established by miners in 1741 and 1756 respectively. Part of the tour of the museum enables visitors to experience the ambience of the recently restored library building and collection of books and documents.

The Museum of Lead Mining Wanlockhead, by Biggar, South Lanarkshire ML12 6UT Tel: 01659 74387 Open: 1st April to 31st October, daily, 10 to 4.30.

Directions: Car: Six miles east of Sanqhar. The museum is sign posted from junctions 13 and 14 on the M74 and from the A76.

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