25 August marks the 200th anniversary of the death of inventor James Watt. To mark the occasion, we have invited a guest post by Debbie Rudder, an expert on Watt, to explore his life and scientific contributions.
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In the early decades of the twentieth century steam-powered vehicles including traction engines, steam wagons, road locomotives, road rollers and steam fire engines were a common sight on Australian roads.
Steam has been used to power engines used in industry, agriculture, mining and even for fighting fires. The Museum has a horse-drawn steam fire engine built by the English firm of Merryweather and Sons of Greenwich, in 1895.
The Museum's steam engines – including this handsome portable made by Ransomes Sims and Jefferies – have recently sprung to life, after 14 months in suspended animation due to the loss of a key staff member and a government freeze on new appointments.
Model steam engines can be very engaging, especially those carefully engineered to run on steam or, less authentically but more conveniently, on compressed air. The hobby of making model engines has long supported clubs, magazines, suppliers and competitions, and lately it has spawned dedicated websites offering kits, tools, projects and tips.