This story is a work in progress, also published in a limited edition of 500 newspapers for TEDxLeeds and Interesting North. Thanks to Imran Ali and Tim Duckett for their generous support, and to everyone else who has assisted with the research, publication and distribution. This work is released under a Creative Commons Licence.
You can read the original Murray and Watt letters in Ernest Kilburn Scott’s 1928 publication, ‘Matthew Murray: Pioneer Engineer. Records from 1765 to 1826’ which is reprinted by Tee Publishing.
There remain many open questions. For example:
Where was Matthew Murray living when Watt’s employees visited him in 1799? His famous “Steam Hall”, on Holbeck’s railway triangle is dated to about 1804 so it may not have been there. And where were the cottages from which Watt attempted to steal the workers’ letters? Later there were dwelling on the edge of the Round Foundry complex, but were these completed when Watt visited?
Why did Leeds mill owner Benjamin Gott assist Watt in undermining Murray? I’d love to know more about the dynamics between entrepreneurs in the city at the time.
Why was Murray so much better than Boulton and Watt at green sand foundry work? Can we get some green sand and try it out?
Who was Ernest Kilburn-Scott, the engineer who in the 1920s sought to restore the reputations not just of Murray but also of Leeds’ cinematic pioneer Louis Le Prince? Can we take his account at face value or was he too clouded by civic loyalty to give the Birmingham firm a fair hearing?
I hope to investigate these and other issues in future versions of the story. Meanwhile if you have questions or answers about any aspect of the story, please leave a comment in these pages or email mattedgar at me63 dot com.
Matt Edgar, November 2010