Watts Campbell Company
Manufacturer of Stationery Steam Engines Established: 1851
Belt driven machinery
Corliss Steam Engine Facts
The Corliss steam engine was a superior design. It’s inventor/engineer decided not to patent it thus making it very popular, which may have been why Watts Campbell chose to build them.
From England to America, the visionary men who helped launch the second Industrial revolution. After established in 1851 as a company with family members George Watts, William Watts, Mary Watts and Charles Watts using a name is not certain, The Watts Campbell Company was incorporated in 1883 with the following stockholders:
MARY WATTS BELCHER
It took the invention of new machinery to build the massive Steam engines needed to power industry.
Wooden patterns, molten steel, sand castings, horse drawn carts on rails and over 300 men brought vision to reality.
What vistors are saying about Watts Campbell
The people who have visited this historic shop speak about their visit with president, Chad Watts, and hearing the stories of a by gone era.
When I was younger and learning the ropes of America’s industrial history, I was told that it was practically mandatory for me to visit one of the Crown Jewel’s of steam engine history, the Pratt Institute Power Plant in Brooklyn, NY. It was a living throwback to the Victorian era, a place worthy of being a museum itself. http://steampunkworkshop.com/v
Chad Watts was first introduced to me on January 21, 2012 by Chuck Taylor of the Watts Campbell Preservation Society, Inc. We were in the shops at 1270 McCarter Highway, in Newark, NJ. On this day, Chad had opened the shops to an Urban Exploration group from Manhattan who were wandering about taking “art photographs” of vintage machinery and the building interior. Others had also been invited, including the Roebling Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archaeology. Chuck Taylor brought me along because we are both interested in vintage equipment and industrial archaeology. I later found out that Chad’s motivation in opening the building on this day to this particular group of individuals was to promote broader Internet awareness of the building, the collection of early machine tools and his attempts to have it preserved; he knew photos taken that day would be posted on websites by the participants.
Chad gave the group a tour of the facility, taking us through key areas and explaining both the history and people who worked in these areas. In the blacksmith shop he stopped by a metal rack with steam engine parts on it, proudly stating that it had been in that same location with those parts on it since he had been first coming to the shop as an employee in 1950. With a note of reverence in his voice, he brought our attention to the fine metal finish that was achieved by workers before the modern era using hand methods and vintage machinery. Likewise he explained the front office function, the oak office furniture, the people who sat behind the desks and his long family history of running the company and producing steam engines. Chad also spoke about how the Watts Campbell Co. survived into the 20th century by performing maintenance on numerous stationary steam engines and acquiring other steam engine manufacturer’s assets as they went out of business.
At the time of the tour, Chad was in negotiations with an environmental cleanup contractor for purchase of the building, therefore the shop had become cluttered because the prospective purchaser had become a tenant and his equipment was stored within and on the site. Chad was hoping to preserve the machinery by moving it to a location in Sussex County, NJ where he could open a non-profit museum. Shortly after meeting Chad, my company was hired to perform a Preliminary Assessment of the Watts Campbell Co. site in accordance with New Jersey property transfer regulations. Through this process I was privileged to interview Chad and benefited from his knowledge of site history and machinery usage. Chad has an incredible memory and can easily recite long explanations of the company actions that resulted in site conditions that I was observing. Chad’s desire to honor the work and expertise of Watts Campbell Company employees through preservation of the Company records and machinery was a recurring thread of thought that came through during these discussions
Join us as we share the preservation efforts of Charles (Chad) Watts. Ultimately we want to create a virtual Museum and 3D virtual reality model of the original building and machines.
Do you have videos or photos you would be willing to share? Contact us. TexasBeekeeper@gmail.com