The Newcomen Society


    AT a meeting of the Newcomen Society held at the Iron and Steel Institute on November 18, the report of the Council for the session 1935-36 was presented. This showed that the activities of the Society have been well maintained and that the total membership is now 424 as compared with 343 a year ago. There has been a considerable increase in the membership in America. Fourteen papers were read during the session and the Society has published as an extra publication the “Collected Papers” of Mr. Rhys Jenkins, one of the founders of the Society. Mr. W. J. Tennant was elected president for the ensuing year. After the passing of the report and accounts, a paper was read by Dr. J. Thomas on “Josiah Wedgwood as a Pioneer of Steam Power in the Pottery Industry”. By searching the Boulton and Watt papers at the Public Library and the Assay Office at Birmingham, Dr. Thomas has brought to light new material relating to the introduction of the Watt rotative steam engine into industry in the Midlands, and he has come to the conclusion that the earliest of such engines installed in a factory was that supplied to Wedgwood and erected at Etruria in 1782. Wedgwood's faith in the steam engine was shown by the financial assistance he gave to Boulton at a critical time. Like Priestley, Erasmus Darwin, Keir, Boulton, Watt and others, Wedgwood was a member of the famous Lunar Society, and his scientific leanings were shown in many ways. Towards the close of his paper, Dr. Thomas was able to show by a series of lantern slides how Watt used the medallions and casts of Wedgwood when in his retirement he devoted his time to the construction of the two statuary reproducing machines now preserved in Watt's garret workshop at the Science Museum. There can be little doubt that Watt's work in this direction was largely due to his friendship with Wedgwood.

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    The Newcomen Society. Nature 138, 925 (1936).

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