George Middleton Watkins spent most of his working life as a heating engineer and boilerman in Bristol but devoted his spare time to the study of stationary steam engines travelling extensively to locate and record them in factories, forges, collieries and pumping stations across the country. By 1965 his reputation as an expert on steam engines was such that he was appointed a research assistant at the Centre for the Study of the History of Technology in what was then Bristol College of Science and Technology and later became the University of Bath.
In 1969 Watkins was awarded an Honorary Degree by the University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the history of steam technology. The Newcomen Society made him an honorary member and the Association of Industrial Archaeology appointed him as an honorary vice-president.
The collection comprises George Watkins' library created over a period of more than 40 years and donated to the University on his death in 1989. It represents a key resource for research relating to stationary steam engines and their uses. Watkins' notebooks, working papers, negatives and photograph albums were gifted to the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England and subsequently transferred to the National Monuments Record (now Historic England) based in Swindon.
Size: Over 600 published works.