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© Mr Walter Chinn

IoE Number: 461800
Photographer: Mr Walter Chinn
Date Photographed: 31 July 2007
Date listed: 26 June 1996
Date of last amendment: 23 July 1997
Grade II*

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SP 08 NW SANDWELL FOUNDRY LANE (west side), Smethwick 1868/9/10012 Soho Foundry: former Boulton & Watt Foundry, Pattern Stores and Erecting Shops 26.6.96 GV II* Foundry, pattern stores and erecting shops. Built 1794-95 for Matthew Boulton & James Watt, extended 1800 and later C19 and C20 alterations; pattern stores 1797, extended 1799-1800, 1809,1845 and later C19. Red brick. Belfast truss roofs clad in corrugated sheet steel with ventilation louvres on the ridges and brick coped gable ends. PLAN: rectangular plan foundry with casting pit and boring mill at east end, extended to west c1800 and late C19 parallel range added on north sicre. Along the north side of the original foundry a tunnel leads to a long range of pattern stores to the north-west, extended northwards in 1799-1800 and 1809, with 1845 pattern store at south-east end, on site of 1799 sand bins, wider late C19 pattern store and pattern shop built above. To the north of the original foundry a large erecting shop was added in 1850. EXTERIOR: 20 bays 3 tiers of segmentally arched windows, some blocked, below corbelled brick eaves. The gable ends have large blocked round arched openings with 3 oculi above. INTERIOR: two orders of blind arches in the walls with buttresses between, at the east end is the casting pit arid boring mill, on the north side of the original foundry a long vaulted brick tunnel leading to the long range of vaulted pattern stores to the north-west. HISTORY: in 1794 Matthew Boulton &James Watt established the firm of Boulton & Watt, and in 1794-95 they built the Soho Foundry to manufacture steam engines more efficiently. Matthew Boulton had required a power source for his earlier factory (the Soho Manufactory, demolished 1860) and James Watt had been called in to act as a consultant, eventually resulting in their historic partnership. At the new Soho Foundry Boulton and Watt produced, for the first time, complete steam engines, making and assembling all the separate components on one site. From 1798 the foundry manager was William Murdock, engineer and inventor of gas-lighting, which was installed at the Soho Foundry from 1800-03, making it one of the earliest factories to be lit by gas-light.

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