1799 Boulton&watt engine

A 2hp Boulton & Watt steam engine [similar to this stock image of a 6hp model] installed in 1799, was the first steam engine used for brewing in Berkshire. It also provided steam for scalding the insides of casks to sterilise them, ensuring that Simonds had better quality beer than local competition.

Here is part of a letter and transcript of July 7th 1797 to Messrs Boulton & Watt, confirming the order of this steam engine, courtesy of the Boulton & Watt archive. It was written by John Rennie, an engineer from London who often acted as an agent for Boulton & Watt.

London Feb.y  7 – 1799

Mess.rs Boulton & Watt

Dear Sirs

I write this to request you will make a Steam Engine of two horses power for Will.m Blackhall Simonds Esq.r of Reading, the Engine to be ready at Reading by the end of next May, – to have Rotative wheels & a Copper Boiler – the latter he will get here so soon as your plans are sent –  I will send you a sketch of the situation &c as soon as I could have time to make – in the interim however the Engine can be going on —


There remains only one working engine of this type, in the Science Museum, London