Event archive

Event Organiser: ICE

Smeaton and Watt: unleashing the power that changed the world, Edinburgh

  • Edinburgh
  • 23 October 2019
  • 17:30 - 19:30
Smeaton and Watt: unleashing the power that changed the world, Edinburgh

About this event

The 18th century saw unprecedented advances in our ability to harness power. Much of this was down to James Watt whose invention of the separate condenser and other improvements to the Newcomen engine was the key that unlocked the full potential of the power of steam. Watt then mastered rotative power for factories, accelerating the industrial revolution. Smeaton had also made improvements to the Newcomen engine and he and Watt shared a mutual respect.

This year’s Smeaton lecture will explore this relationship with the help of some letters, not previously published or archived, and uses engineering hindsight to explore the factors influencing successful innovation – then and now.

Registration and Tea from 5.30pm for a 6.00pm start.


For further information, please contact Sandra Purves, [email protected].

This lecture is organised by the Panel for Historical Engineering Works which exists to record and promote knowledge of works illustrative of the history and development of civil engineering and encourage excellence in the conservation of significant examples.


Gordon Masterton, Past President, ICE

Gordon is a civil and structural engineer and was appointed to the Chair of Future Infrastructure at the University of Edinburgh in September 2015.

He was President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (2005-06). In 2008 he was awarded an OBE for services to civil engineering. He is Chairman of the ICE’s Panel for Historical Engineering Works.

Gordon was formerly a Vice President of Jacobs and was the UK Government’s Project Representative for Crossrail (2009-13).

He has also served as Chairman of the Construction Industry Council (2009-11), President of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland (2009-11) and as Vice Chairman of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (2002-15). He launched the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame in 2011. He chaired the ICE/IStructE/HSE Standing Committee on Structural Safety from 2009-16. He is Middle Warden of the Worshipful Company of Engineers and Deacon of the Hammermen of Glasgow.

Event venue

James Clerk Maxwell Foundation
14 India Street
Edinburgh EH3 6EZ
United Kingdom

For more information please contact:

Lynn Dow

e: [email protected]