National Recording Project

  ..

Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Boulton, Watt and Murdoch

Summary

Type Statue

     The three over life-size figures stand together on a large pedestal, they wear eighteenth century clothing, the details of which derive from Bloye's study of the dress of earlier statues of Watt and Boulton in Birmingham. They are represented discussing drawings of mechanical devices held out by Boulton and Murdoch, with Watt standing in the centre.
     In 1939 Richard Wheatley bequeathed £8,000 to embellish the layout of Birmingham's intended Civic Centre on Broad Street. The City Council agreed to match the amount, eventual £7,500, to erect a monument to 'The teamwork of these men which brought such great advances'. (1) Although Bloye was asked to submit preliminary designs in 1938, and again in 1943, (2) the project was shelved until 1950. Bloye then began to make the figures, beginning the final casts in 1953. (3) In 1956 the monument was unveiled in its present 'temporary' site. The intention was to place it in front of a planetarium to be built as part of the Civic Centre on the other side of Broad Street, however the statue remains where it was originally sited.
     Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) was a Birmingham manufacturer who acquired an international reputation for the high quality of his products and for his industrial organisation. James Watt (1736-1819) is chiefly remembered as the inventor of the separate condenser - the greatest single improvement ever made to the steam engine.(1) In 1774 he joined Matthew Boulton, Birmingham's leading manufacturer, in order to market his invention, a partnership which has become one of the most famous in world economic history. William Murdoch (1754-1839) was an associate of both Boulton and Watt, he discovered practical methods for making, storing and purifying coal gas for lighting purposes, as well as developing important improvements in steam machinery.

Inscriptions

(on front of pedestal) '1728 - MATTHEW BOULTON - 1809/ 1736 - JAMES WATT - 1819/ 1754 - WILLIAM MURDOCH - 1839' (on rear of pedestal) 'THIS MEMORIAL UNVEILED BY PERCY MILLS B.T., K.B.E., SEPTEMBER 14 1956/ COMMEMORATES THE IMMENSE CONTRIBUTION MADE BY BOULTON WATT AND/ MURDOCH TO THE INDUSTRY OF BIRMINGHAM AND THE WORLD THE CONCEPTION/ OF RICHARD WHEATLEY, A LEATHER GOODS MANUFACTURERER OF THIS CITY/ COUPLED WITH HIS GENEROSITY AND A CONTRIBUTION BY THE CITY COUNCIL/ ENABLED THESE STATUES TO BE ERECTED BY W. BLOYE- SCULPTOR'

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Bloye, William James Sculptor
Kings, Raymond Forbes Assistant

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Statues Bronze, with gold leaf finish 285cm high
Pedestal Portland stone 180cm high x 3000cm wide

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
WMbiBIxx036 BM
General condition Fair
Surface condition
  • Other
Structural condition
Vandalism
Road Broad Street
Precise location In front of the registry office
A-Z ref None
OS ref None

Sorry, we have no precise geographical information for this item.

Date of design 1938, 1943, 1950
Year of unveiling 1956
Unveiling details 14 September 1956
Commissioned by Birmingham City Council
Duty of care Birmingham City Council
Listing status Don't know
At risk? Not at risk

‹‹ Back to search results