Global Watt Day celebrates an Original Genius



For alumni, staff and students around the world, the 19th January holds a special significance as the birthdate of the renowned Scottish inventor, James Watt.

The University, named in part after James Watt, is encouraging colleagues and students, both past and present, to celebrate #globalwattday by using a twibbon on their social profiles to honour the historic engineer, famed for advancing the steam engine.

Established in 1821 as the Edinburgh School of Arts, Heriot-Watt re-named The Watt Institution and School of Arts in 1852, to recognise James Watt's inventions and his stature as a mechanical engineer and chemist. It was subsequently re-named Heriot-Watt College in 1885, to reference George Heriot, the 16th century philanthropist and financier to King James VI following financial support from George Heriot's Trust.

At the Edinburgh campus, the Museum and Archive is holding a celebratory exhibition “An original genius - James Watt and his legacy” featuring a range of historically significant pieces that commemorate Watt's innovations in energy and engineering.

Highlights include Watt's Patent Roller copying press, the world's first successful letter copying machine, patented in 1780. The press enabled Watt to keep copies of his outgoing letters without having to rewrite each one.

Other pieces on show include a model depicting Watt's improvements to Newcomen's steam engine, made by one of the first students of the Edinburgh School of Arts, James Nasmyth, inventor of the steam hammer.

James Watt's innovations in energy and engineering have been inspiring students for close to two centuries with the University's Alumni Association, the Watt Club, boasting more than 100,000 members worldwide.

“An original genius - James Watt and his legacy” is running in the Museum and Archive at the Edinburgh Campus until 28th January 2018.

Opening hours are Monday-Thursday, 10-4 pm or by appointment. For more information, please contact Ann Jones, Head of Heritage and Information Governance:   Tel: +44 (0)131 451 3219