The Soho Manufactory, Mint and Foundry, West Midlands

Where Boulton, Watt and Murdoch made history

By George Demidowicz

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This volume provides a comprehensive analysis of the ground-breaking historic industrial complex created to the west of Birmingham in the eighteenth century and associated with Matthew Boulton, James Watt, and William Murdoch.

The Soho Manufactory (1761-1863) and Soho Mint (1788-1850s) were both situated in the historic parish of Handsworth, now in the city of Birmingham, and the Soho Foundry (1795-1895) lay in the historic township of Smethwick, now within Sandwell Metropolitan Borough. Together they played a key role in the Industrial Revolution, achieving many world 'firsts': the first working Watt steam engine, the first steam-engine powered mint and the first purpose-built steam engine manufactory (the Soho Foundry), to name but a few.

Existing literature focuses largely on the biography of the people, primarily Boulton and Watt, or the products they manufactured. The place - the Soho complex - has attracted very little attention. This volume is the first to concentrate on the buildings themselves analysing not only their physical origins, development and eventual decline but also the water and steam power systems adopted.

An interdisciplinary approach has been employed combining archival research in the magnificent Soho collection at the Library of Birmingham with the results of archaeological excavations. The volume is profusely illustrated with archival material, most published for the first time, and contains a large number of reconstruction plans and drawings by the author.

Key features

  • Lavishly illustrated with nearly 300 images, diagrams, drawings and maps
  • First book to look at the buildings of the Soho complex, considering the Soho Manufactory, the Soho Mint and the Soho Foundry
  • Provides a unique insight into key figures of the Industrial Revolution, including Matthew Boulton, James Watt, and William Murdoch


  • List of Illustrations
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: A short history of the Soho Manufactory and Mint
  • Chapter 3: The Soho Mill
  • Chapter 4: The Manufactory Engine Works
  • Chapter 5: The Soho Mint
  • Chapter 6: The Soho Manufactory and Mint site after
  • Chapter 7: The Soho Foundry
  • Chapter 9: The significance of the three Sohos
  • Appendix 1: The archaeological excavations (1994-1996)
  • Appendix 2: The Soho businesses
  • Appendix 3: Biographies
  • Acknowledgments
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Soho Manufactory, Mint and Foundry

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Additional Information

  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 296
  • ISBN: 9781802070934


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