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James Watt Junior was the eldest son of the famous inventor, scientist and engineer James Watt, who made his fortune from the development of the steam engine. James Watt junior was not only a successful businessman who produced a portable version of his father's copying machine and took a leading role in introducing steam engines into ships, but he was also an antiquarian, connoisseur and patron to some of the leading designers of the early nineteenth century.
After inheriting his father's fortune in 1819, he possessed the means to explor his exceptional interest and taste in architecture, design and furniture. From 1809, he employed George Bullock to supply furniture for Thornhill. In 1818 James Watt Junior leased the great Jacobean House, Aston Hall and commissioned Richard Bridgens to design furniture appropriate to the "Elizabethan" manner of the house, purchasing antique furniture and creating an impressive library. On James Watt Junior's death in 1848 the archives indicate how selected objects were moved from Aston Hall to Doldowlod by his executors, while other pieces were sold at auction. Many pieces from Watt's collection are now preserved at Aston Hall in the care of Birmingham City Art Museums and Galleries.