James Watt’s ingenious improvements to the steam engine transformed this relatively simple technology, making it more efficient and adapting it so it could be used to turn wheels. His ideas revolutionised steam power, literally driving the industrial revolution and transforming the British landscape and the lives of its people.
This is a watercolour painting by Charles Bell, a British Army surgeon who helped to treat the wounded after the Battle of Waterloo. His haunting paintings are stark reminders of what early 19th century battle injuries were like. They are rare images executed by a practising surgeon and artist, which was an unusual combination.
John Dalton was a renowned British chemist, best remembered for introducing atomic theory into chemistry. This is the theory that all substances are made from tiny particles called atoms. His theory revolutionised scientific understanding, helping to explain chemical phenomena that had long puzzled scientists, and providing a theoretical foundation for chemistry that remains today.
James Joule became a world-renowned physicist, initially by seeking scientific advances to help his family brewery. He is best remembered for his discovery that different forms of energy - electrical, mechanical, heat - are interchangeable, and for establishing that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. The International unit of energy, the joule, is named in his honour.
Canals were an essential part of the Industrial Revolution and spawned Britain’s first successful steamboat, the Charlotte Dundas.