Murray versus Watt at Bettakultcha

My 20 slides from Bettakultcha at Temple Works, Holbeck…

… on which more later, but meanwhile you can also read the original blogpost: How to get ahead in business the Boulton and Watt way.


How to get ahead in business the Boulton and Watt way

Dirty tricks among high-tech businesses? I recently came across the original Machiavellian play book for start-ups, and it’s more than 200 years old.

Two of my 1794 heroes were the steam pioneer James Watt and Holbeck engineer Matthew Murray. Both made engines for the textile mills of northern England – in effect the processing power to transform raw wool, flax and cotton into finished cloth. Later, their inventions went mobile to haul the first railway trains.

But the villain of this piece is Watt’s son, also called James, who in 1794 joined his father’s partnership with Matthew Boulton. Within a few years the upstart Leeds foundry of Fenton, Murray and Wood proved a serious competitor to Boulton & Watt’s more famous Soho works in Birmingham.

Matthew locks away the planing machine

The stories of Watt’s feud with Murray are the stuff of Leeds legend, but to understand just how blatant it was you have to revisit the original sources, the letters and newspaper advertisements of the protagonists themselves.

Here, in his own words and those of his contemporaries, we can piece together the business wisdom of James Watt Junior.

Continue reading How to get ahead in business the Boulton and Watt way