Boulton, Watt and the Pirates

Boulton, Watt and the Pirates who preyed on their cargo ships carrying Birmingham made steam engines manufactured at The Soho Foundry in Smethwick just to the west of Birmingham #MadeinBirmingham @LunarSoc #MatthewBoulton #JamesWatt #TheLunarMen #Lunarticks

keithbracey

Birmingham Lunar Society collaborators Matthew Boulton and James Watt made their Steam Engines at the Soho Foundry in Smethwick just to the west of Birmingham. They sold them to Cornish tin and copper miners which featured in the BBC TV series set in Cornwall: “Poldark” featuring British Army Captain Ross Poldark who owned the Wheel Jane Tin Mine in the Winston Graham historical novels and BBC TV adaptation. In the books and TV series Ross Poldark is a spy and sails to France on a mission to rescue friends and former British Army soldiers and Royal Navy sailors and marines and wages a constant battle with the Revenue Men from the Whig Government under “Mad King George”. He also fights constant battles with Privateers and Pirates preying on cargo ships and vessels carrying contraband and also shipping carrying Boulton and Watt’s steam engines to the Cornish Tin Mines where they…

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Boulton, Watt and the Pirates

Birmingham Lunar Society collaborators Matthew Boulton and James Watt made their Steam Engines at the Soho Foundry in Smethwick just to the west of Birmingham. They sold them to Cornish tin and copper miners which featured in the BBC TV series set in Cornwall: “Poldark” featuring British Army Captain Ross Poldark who owned the Wheel Jane Tin Mine in the Winston Graham historical novels and BBC TV adaptation. In the books and TV series Ross Poldark is a spy and sails to France on a mission to rescue friends and former British Army soldiers and Royal Navy sailors and marines and wages a constant battle with the Revenue Men from the Whig Government under “Mad King George”. He also fights constant battles with Privateers and Pirates preying on cargo ships and vessels carrying contraband and also shipping carrying Boulton and Watt’s steam engines to the Cornish Tin Mines where they were used to pump water from tin and copper mines like Poldark’s Wheel Jane Tin Mine. Boulton and Watt were firstly Birmingham business men and did not enjoy the attention of the Pirates who badly affected their business by demanding bounties for seized ships and cargo like Birmingham made steam engines….and it badly affected the Birmingham duos business of making, selling and operating steam engines #MadeinBirmingham.

Theatre is back!

Enjoy a Lunartick experience with the new play by Bold text playwrights The #PowerofInvention about the Lunar Men of Birmingham @LunarSoc who inspired the Industrial Revolution based on Steam Engines and steam power made at the Soho Foundry in Smethwick just to the west of Birmingham in the Black Country. Matthew Boulton who lived at Soho House and James Watt friends and business partners and founders of the #LunarSociiety were prominent protagonists in #TheMidlandsEnlightenment and created the modern world with their ingenuity.

Theatre is back!

The Power of Invention at Soho House Museum….a Lunartick experience with the Friends that made the Future those Lunar Men who created the modern world with their Industrial Revolution based on Steam Engines and steam power….the #PowerofInvention

BOLDtext Playwrights

Getting stuck in at Soho House: Katy, Adaya, Simran, Lauren, Itasha and Janet

Postponed from last year due to the pandemic, rehearsals are now underway for BOLDtext Playwright’s latest site-specific show, Power of Invention, celebrating Birmingham’s Lunar Society – with a wonderful all-female cast, stage manager and director.   The RSC’s Katy Stephens is joined by Adaya Henry, Itasha James and Simran Kular, with direction from Janet Steel, stage management from Lauren Wood, and produced by our very own Julia Wright. We are so excited to have brought together such an excellent creative team!

There’ll be lively appearances from Brummie entrepreneur Matthew Boulton and his daughter Anne, plus Lunar Society members Erasmus Darwin, Joseph Priestley, James Watt and William Withering, as well as the servants and workers – demonstrating how their life’s work changed ours.

Our outdoor show is attracting theatre-lovers and newcomers alike, and presenting the piece in the…

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John Roebuck

John Roebuck was a contemporary and business rival of Matthew Boulton and James Watt who made his fortune by first inventing the chamber process in Birmingham for the safe manufacture of sulphuric acid used in the Scottish linen industry. Roebuck diversified into iron making at The Carron Works but overstretched himself by buying one of Watt’s steam engines and was forced to sell his business to Boulton and Watt those “Friends that made the Future” of The Midlands Enlightenment to cancel his debts.

John Roebuck

John Roebuck invented the chamber process for the safe manufacture of sulphuric acid which was used extensively in the linen industry . Although born in Sheffield he invented the process in Birmingham which was at the centre of the Midlands Enlightenment with the Lunar Society creating the modern world with an industrial revolution based on steam power delivered by Boulton and Watt’s steam engines built at The Soho Foundry in Smethwick just to the west of Birmingham a small manufacturing town which grew in importance as the 18th century turned to the 19th century and the industrial age with revolutions in transport with steam railways and steam ships powered by coal

The Iron Room

Diagram of a lead chamber reaction vessel, in ‘The Manufacture of Sulphuric Acid (Chamber Process) by Wilfred Wyld [A661.2]

John Roebuck was born in 1718 in the Yorkshire town of Sheffield, where he was educated at Sheffield Grammar School. In 1737, he began studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh. There, he developed a taste for chemistry from the lectures of William Cullen (1710-1790), Professor of Medicine and Joseph Black (1728-1729), Professor of Chemistry, and in 1743, he published a thesis entitled “An enquiry into the effects of a rarefied atmosphere on the human body”. After finishing his studies he began practicing as a physician in Birmingham.

Roebuck had a keen interest in scientific matters, and especially their application in the industrial field, while Birmingham at this time had a thriving and expanding industrial sector. Being at the cutting edge of the industrial revolution, this included iron manufacture…

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Minted

Birmingham Lunar Society met by the light of the moon at Matthew Boulton’s home Soho House in Handsworth and were known as “Lunatiks” for their clandestine meetings. The very first factory in the World Boulton’s Soho Manufactory was built on Handsworth Heath along with Boulton’s Soho Mint as the forgery of coins was rife in Georgian England. Not far away in Smethwick at the Soho Foundry Boulton and his business partner and collaborator James Watt manufactured the revolutionary steam engines that powered the Industrial Revolution in Birmingham

Minted

Matthew Boulton’s Birmingham Mint was powered by his business partner and fellow Lunar Society member James Watt’s steam engines built at the Soho Foundry in Smethwick to the west of Birmingham not far from Boulton’s home at Soho House in Handsworth

BOLDtext Playwrights

Birmingham was riddled with forgers in the late eighteenth century. Some were so cocky that they even advertised on street signs.

Copper coins were in short supply. They were made by hand presses and so easy to forge that The Royal Mint didn’t bother making them. Its own study revealed that 92% of halfpennies were fakes. It was a huge problem.

But Brum was also the home of Matthew Boulton – the Richard Branson or Bill Gates of his day. His factory at Soho House was the most advanced on the planet. He was in partnership with James Watt and their steam engines were revolutionising the world.

Boulton hated forgers – and the unscrupulous bosses who were short-changing their workers by paying them in counterfeit coins or tokens. In 1788 he launched his own mint – driven by steam and capable of making millions of identical coins so cheaply that…

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