Industry's Great Innovator
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Without Boulton, James Watt would probably have failed to bring his steam engine to market. By the time of their partnership Boulton was already a successful industrialist manufacturing a range of silver and plated goods, buttons and buckles and the sort of knicknackery known in the 18th century as "toys." He had a business network throughout continental Europe with traveling agents who represented his various interests. In due course they were asked to represent the engine business, particularly at court and to governments. Boulton built an elegant architect-designed factory outside Birmingham and had a wide range of business and social contacts. He was urbane and sociable, enjoying entertaining at his home and showing visitors around his Soho Manufactory. He was a founder member of the Lunar Society and became a fellow of the Royal Society. A devoted husband and father (he married twice, the second time sailing near the wind by marrying his late wife’s sister).