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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.