Hello, I’m Alice.
Stephen: And I’m Stephen.
Alice: And this is 6 Minute English! This week we’re talking about an inventor’s workshop which has been reassembled after almost 200 years.
Stephen: Reassembled – reconstructed or rebuilt.
Alice: This is the workshop of James Watt, an inventor born in Scotland in 1736. He’s often credited with inventing the steam engine – though in actual fact, he improved on one which had already been developed. He’s seen as a key figure in the Industrial Revolution. But anyway Stephen, before we find out more I’ve got a question for you.
Stephen: Ok – I’m feeling clever today!
Alice: Oh, well, in that case here’s a difficult one. Can you put these four inventions in chronological order – that’s the oldest one first? Ready?
Alice: The hot air balloon, Morse code, the vacuum cleaner and the typewriter.
Stephen: That’s hard. I’m going to have to think about that and get back to you!
Alice: Ok, good. So, let’s talk about today’s topic. Curators at the Science Museum in London have reassembled the workshop of 18th century inventor James Watt, so people can see what it was like. Here’s the BBC’s science correspondent,
Insert 1: Tom Fielden
When Watt died in 1819, this workshop was locked up and its contents left pretty much undisturbed until the 1920s when it was more or less picked up lock, stock and barrel by the Science Museum and put into storage. It’s been a long wait, but the contents, a regular cornucopia of gadgets, tools, contraptions, you name it, have all been painstakingly reassembled here in the main hall of the Science Museum. I think, really, it’s its spiritual home if nowhere else.
Alice: Watt’s workshop was locked up after his death in 1819 but curators from the Science Museum in
London collected all the things they found there, lock, stock and barrel.
Stephen: Lock, stock and barrel – those are the three parts of an old-fashioned gun. It’s a term that’s used in English to mean everything. They took everything in the workshop and put it in storage.
Alice: Tom Fielden says Watt’s workshop was a relative cornucopia of gadgets, tools and contraptions.
Stephen: A relative cornucopia – a cornucopia in classical mythology is a horn full of food and drink. But in modern English it’s often used to mean a collection of wonderful things.
Alice: In this case, a cornucopia of gadgets, tools and scientific contraptions. Tom Fielden says that Watt’s workshop has found its spiritual home at London’s Science Museum.
Stephen: Its spiritual home – a place where it feels very comfortable.
Alice: The Curator of Mechanical Engineering at the Science Museum, Ben Russell, says the workshop is full of inventions and interesting objects – bits of machinery, engines, sculptures and musical instruments. He says it is a treasure trove.
Stephen: A treasure trove – full of wonderful, valuable things.
Insert 2: Ben Russell
It’s an absolutely astonishing… it’s a treasure trove, really. We actually counted 8,430 objects, and it’s a complete physical record of Watt’s entire working life and interests, going back to the 1750s. So it’s unparalleled anywhere. But really what the workshop does, it shows the engine, and there are some fragments about the engine, but it shows a lot of his other projects as well, from chemistry to pottery, instrument making, even musical instrument making. So it shows how diverse a bloke he was.
Alice: Curator Ben Russell says the workshop is unparalleled anywhere.