Photograph of a drawing of a 1785 Boulton and Watt beam engine

Made in London, England

The drawing that is the subject of the photograph is a finely detailed and rendered illustration of the Whitbread engine. At the time the photograph was taken, the engine was known to be significant as an early example of the rotative engines made by the ground-breaking firm of Boulton and Watt.

The engine is now recognised as the oldest rotative engine in the world, so the photograph is significant as a record of how the engine appeared in its final form at Whitbread’s London brewery. It comp...


A photograph reproduction showing a drawing of the beam engine made by Boulton and Watt for Whitbread and Company in London, England. The drawing is a finely detailed rendered image of the engine that is now in this Museum's collection. It shows the engine in its final form at the brewery, with some detail of the supporting timbers and safety railings. It also includes a cutaway view of the tank, revealing the separate condenser, air pump, hot well and dashpots. The photograph is mounted on cardboard and text has been printed on the mount, above and below the image. There is a stamp on the back of the mount.


400 mm
355 mm


There is no signature on the drawing. It would have been produced in London after the 1830s, when the engine reached its final form. The photograph was probably taken in the 1880s in order to produce multiple copies from the drawing.

The drawing would probably have been commissioned by Whitbread & Co.
c. 1880-1887


The photograph was owned by Whitbread & Company between approximately 1880 and 1887. The company gave it to Professor Archibald Liversidge, in his role as Trustee of the Technological, Industrial and Sanitary Museum, at the same time as it donated the engine to the Museum.
Messrs Whitbread and Co 1880-1887


Gift of Whitbread & Company, 1888
21 April, 1888

Cite this Object

Photograph of a drawing of a 1785 Boulton and Watt beam engine 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 24 November 2017, <>
{{cite web |url= |title=Photograph of a drawing of a 1785 Boulton and Watt beam engine |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=24 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
Know more about this object?
Have a question about this object?