Science museum brews ale with Britain's oldest brewer

Posted: 23 March 2011

Blog category: News

Shepherd Neame, Britain’s oldest brewer, welcomed Science Museum curator Dr Andrew Nahum to brew Watt’s Late Ale, in celebration of a new James Watt exhibition.

The Science Museum will be opening up the attic workshop of steam pioneer James Watt to the public, as part of a new permanent exhibition James Watt and our world, from March 23.

Shepherd Neame was one of Watt’s early customers and in 1789 was the first brewery outside of London to install a Boulton & Watt steam engine, becoming known as the Faversham Steam Brewery.

Watt’s Late Ale has been brewed especially for the Science Museum’s adults-only evening on Wednesday March 30. The free monthly events are known as Lates and visitors can participate in a wide variety of activities including the Launchpad gallery, the Pub Quiz and Silent Disco and the new A Cockroach Tour of the Science Museum.

When Watt died in 1819, his workshop at his home near Birmingham was locked and its contents left undisturbed as an industrial shrine. Then, in 1924, the complete workshop including its door, window, skylight, floorboards and 8,434 objects used or created by Watt, was carefully removed and transported to the Science Museum.

Although the workshop has previously been displayed at the Museum, visitors have never been invited inside until now. The vast majority of its contents, once hidden within drawers, on shelves and under piles of tools and papers will now be revealed.

The workshop will be accompanied by a new gallery of previously unseen objects and innovative multimedia, presenting a vivid portrait of the working life, ingenuity and character of the first engineer to be propelled to international fame.