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A free online talk about James Watt’s first Birmingham home, the history of Key Hill House and the surrounding area.

Key Hill sits on the edge of what remained in the latter part of the 18th century of Birmingham Heath. Its history reflects the history of the heath and of the growing town of Birmingham. Its natural geology has played an important role in its development first by the Overseers of the Poor and then as the General Cemetery.

Key Hill House was the first Birmingham home that the Scottish engineer James Watt returned to from Scotland with his young son, James junior. Though the Watts leased the house for only six months it stood for a further 120 years and the subsequent tenants and owners reflect the industrial development of the area and as such are no less interesting.

When George Demidowicz, who has published extensively on the historical geography and archaeology of Birmingham and the West Midlands, and John Townley, an independent researcher with an interest in steam power, realised that they were both researching the same building, Harper’s Hill House, they decided to pool their efforts. What has subsequently emerged is a history of all three of James Watt’s Birmingham homes: Key Hill House, New Hall and Harper’s Hill House, the homes that he lived in for fifteen years before his final move out the town of Birmingham to Heathfield, in Handsworth.

This talk is free but places are limited. The talk will take place via zoom and ticket holders will be sent a link to join on the day of the event.


6th May 2021
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


Josie Wall

Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries Project


We had an amazing day yesterday at the @jqbid #jqfestival collaborating with @jo_gane1 @suslifeuk @dontgointothecellar and of course the @friendskeyhillwarstonelanecem meeting so many amazing people

We couldn't have done it without everyone's help, including loads of support behind the scenes from @bhamcitycouncil @coffin_works @thehivejq and all the amazing #JQHeritageSquad volunteers.

Now we need to sleep for a week but then we'll be buzzing with ideas for 2023!

We are very excited about 'Diamonds in the Rough' a unique tour with storytelling & live performance, exploring queer history in the JQ Cemeteries for LGBT History Month.
Join Sheldon K Goodman and
Sacha Coward from @thecemeteryclub
on 12th-14th February:

#lgbthistory #valentinesday #birmingham #jewelleryquarter #jewelleryquarterbirmingham #cemetery #tour #birminghamheritage

This project is possible because of funding from: