Independent centre of excellence

It has been formally announced this week that the 18th century Birmingham industrialist Matthew Boulton will be honoured with a memorial in Westminster Abbey in 2014. The Birmingham Assay Office was founded by an Act of Parliament in 1773 thanks to a vigorous lobbying campaign by Boulton. We are the last surviving business enterprise that can be traced directly back to him and we are enormously proud of this heritage. Boulton (1728-1809) was an important figure in the early Industrial Revolution. He was a silversmith, button and buckle manufacturer, steam engineer, coin minter, entrepreneur, Fellow of the Royal Society and one of the founder members of the Lunar Society of Birmingham. Since the 20th century his name has been largely overshadowed by that of his business partner, James Watt. However, without Boulton’s vision, drive and ambition it is unlikely that Watt would have fulfilled his potential as an engineer and inventor. Following the extensive programme of exhibitions and publications to commemorate the bicentenary of Boulton’s death in 2009, there has been a wider appreciation of his contribution to British history. His significance was further recognised in 2011 when the Bank of England launched its new £50 note which features both Boulton and Watt. Birmingham Museums Trust will work with the Abbey on the design of the new memorial which should be unveiled in 2014. There has been a memorial to James Watt in Westminster Abbey since 1825. Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster said: 'We are delighted that Matthew Boulton’s major contribution to British and World history will finally be recognised with this new memorial.' Sir Arnold Wolfendale FRS, 14th Astronomer Royal, one of the initiators of the project, said 'Boulton was a born promoter and has lessons for us today - it is not only scientists and engineers who are important in introducing new technology, but men such as Boulton, too.’ The Birmingham Assay Office’s Silver Collection contains some of the finest pieces of Matthew Boulton silver in the world. Visits are available for organised groups, or why not book a place for our next public visit on 27th June? For further information visit or email



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