Scottish inventor William Murdoch was born - On this day in history

21 August 2019
Scottish inventor William Murdoch was born on 21 August 1754.

William Murdoch, inventor of gas lighting, was born on 21 August 1754 at Lugar, near Cumnock. As a child, Murdoch was greatly influenced by his father John, an artillery gunner and the pair worked on inventions in a workshop at their home.

At the age of 23, William Murdoch walked from Scotland to Birmingham for the chance to meet steam pioneer James Watt. Watt was so impressed that he immediately employed Murdoch at the Boulton and Watt firm, an association which would last for most of Murdoch's adult life.

As well as inventing gas lighting, Murdoch was responsible for a number of other inventions, including:

  • A steam gun
  • A pneumatic tube message system
  • The oscillating steam engine.

Murdoch's home was a treasure trove of innovations, being one of the first domestic premises to have gas lighting, an air-powered doorbell and an early form of air conditioning.

Murdoch died in 1839 at the age of 85 and is buried at the churchyard of St Mary's in Handsworth, Birmingham.