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The Watkins Collection is one of the country's premier sources on stationary steam engines and their uses. It comprises the Steam Engine Record (SER - a card mounted photographic index to over 1,500 sites with field notes), files on steam engine manufacturers, numerous technical notes about related topics and an archive of trade catalogues. The Collection was created by George Watkins over a period of more than 40 years from the early 1930s and was gifted to the NMR on his death in 1989.
George Watkins (1904-1989) spent most of his working life as a heating engineer and boilerman in Bristol and his interest in stationary steam engines was initially only an all-consuming hobby. However, by the early 1960s his reputation as an expert on steam engines, fostered by learned papers to the Newcomen Society and articles in the Model Engineer, was such that he was appointed a research assistant at the Centre for the Study of the History of Technology at the University of Bath at the age of 61. He was now able to devote all his time, until his retirement at the age of 75, to enhancing and classifying his collection and to disseminating his research in a series of books.
Watkins' photographs are an unique record of the end of stationary steam power in this country being made at a time when the electrification, and later the contraction, of traditional industries was changing the industrial landscape. A handlist of the measured drawings in available.
Received Via : R A Buchanan, 1988 Provenance : George Watkins (1904-1989) was an authority on stationary steam engines, which is reflected in his extensive recording of them and in his numerous published books on the subject. The NMR holds a comprehensive collection relating to his recording activities. Includes G.M. Watkins, biography, Remininscences and the early Articles publication.
This Collection contains the following materials:
© Historic England Archive
© Frank Wightman
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