Boulton and Watt in the news

An image of the £50 note featuring Boulton and Watt.


We are very pleased to report that the latest £50 banknote bears the portraits of Matthew Boulton and James Watt.

The renowned 18th century business partnership of entrepreneur Matthew Boulton and engineer James Watt provides the historical figures portrayed on the Bank of England’s redesigned £50 banknotes.  Bank of England Governor, Mervyn King, made the announcement in 2009 when he opened a new exhibition at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery: ‘Matthew Boulton: Selling what all the world desires’.

Commenting on the choice, the Governor said, “Just as the Bank of England plays an essential role in the economy as the United Kingdom’s central bank, so too did Boulton and Watt’s steam engines and their many other innovations as essential factors in the nation’s Industrial Revolution. So many of the advantages society now enjoys are due in large part to the vital role of engineering and the brilliance and foresight of people such as Boulton and Watt whose development and refinement of steam engines gave an incredible boost to the efficiency of industry.”

The Boulton and Watt £50 banknote, now launched, is the second note in the Series F ‘family’ which began with the introduction of the Adam Smith £20 note in 2007.  For the first time two portraits appear together on the reverse of the note, those of Boulton and Watt, along with the image of a steam engine and the Soho (Birmingham) Manufactory.

The archives of Boulton and Watt are held here at Birmingham Archives & Heritage. For more information see our website.

Alison Smith


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