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James Watt's Family Life

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To me the most touching item in James Watt’s workshop is his son’s trunk.

Gregory Watt's trunk

Gregory Watt's trunk (Science Museum)

Gregory died of consumption at only 27 years old. The trunk is full of his schoolwork; beautiful paintings, drawings, diagrams and page upon page of his lessons and notes, in immaculate copperplate writing.

It is a poignant reminder that the genius engineer was as human as the rest of us.

Quite apart from his own bad health, his first wife died in childbirth and only one of his 7 children (James) outlived him.

Yet despite such tragedies, plus the ups and downs of his business life, James Watt lived to the ripe old age of 83 – a ‘good innings’ even by today’s standards.

So perhaps it’s true – an active mind really is the secret to a long life!

Written by Adrian Whicher

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