One of England’s first industrialists, metalwork manufacturer Matthew Boulton transformed factory production methods using steam power, in collaboration with engineer James Watt.

Matthew Boulton joined his father’s business, which produced metal buckles and trinkets, on leaving school in 1743. Inventive and intensely ambitious, Boulton took over and expanded the company on his father’s death, opening Britain’s first large-scale factory—the Soho Manufactory—in 1765. Boulton’s desire to improve the factory’s power supply (its water wheel was efficient only when the river was in ...

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