In 1769 and 1770, when John Roebuck was the tenant at Kinneil House, Bo’ness, Scotland, he employed James Watt to undertake experiments to develop a more efficient steam engine capable of pumping water out of deep coal mines under the River Forth.
Watt succeeded in his quest, though only after he had left Kinneil. The experiments were kept secret by housing them in this cottage close to Kinneil House itself. Whether it was entirely wise to employ someone to develop a bigger and better steam engine only yards from where you are living is open to debate: though perhaps the fact that the old tower house has walls that are six feet thick gave Roebuck a greater sense of security!
James Watt lived from 19 January 1736 to 19 August 1819. He was an engineer and inventor whose improvements to the steam engine were fundamental in bringing about the Industrial Revolution. He was once described as the 22nd most influential man in history: and the SI unit of power, the Watt, is named after him.
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