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7.  ST PAUL'S SQUARE, BOULTON & WATT


Explore the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter

 

THE EXTRA

This page reproduces in printable format the information contained in the right hand column of the walk page.

WHO LIVED HERE IN 1818?

Whilst it only lists people in business who had paid for an entry, Wrightson’s Directory of 1818 gives us some idea of the early residents of the square. We find: 5 merchants, 5 toymakers, 4 factors, 4 jewellers, 2 victuallers, 2 platers, and one each of the following: bookseller, cut glass maker, gunmaker, japanner, metal dealer, optician, shoemaker, smith, and surgeon. The optician was Richard Elkington, father of George the electroplater, who was a teenager in 1818. The following entry is interesting, for it implies that even in the early days the square was not wholly residential:

William Harris, tea warehouse, St Paul’s Square (West side).

BOULTON & WATT

Matthew Boulton was an eighteenth century industrial pioneer who established what was, in its day, the most famous factory in the world, went on to make a practical reality of the steam engine James Watt had invented, and then developed the modern, fraud resistant coinage we still use today. James Watt lived for many years at Harper's Hill in the Jewellery Quarter. By the time St Paul's Church was built Matthew Boulton was living at Soho House in Handsworth, though he did have a business in Newhall Street.

THE LUNAR SOCIETY

James Watt and Matthew Boulton were both members of the Lunar Society, a remarkable group of men which met regularly in and around Birmingham for over 40 years in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. You can think of the Lunar Society as a Georgian think tank, or as the revolutionary committee of the Industrial Revolution. But they were very English revolutionaries, whose views were actually rather New Labour.

 

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© 2001 Bob Miles