John Smeaton was engaged from 1755 to 1761 in an abortive attempt to improve the navigation of the river Clyde up to Glasgow. His volumes of Civil and Mechanical Engineering Designs in the Library of the Royal Society contain the maps and plans of the scheme. One is entitled ‘The River of Clyde surveyed by John Watt’. Although surveyed by John Watt in 1734, it was only published posthumously by his nephew James Watt, the famous steam engine improver, in 1759 who revised it with the assistance of his own father and brother. James Watt had helped survey the Clyde in conjunction with Smeaton's schemes in 1758.
The background of Smeaton's work is outlined and the story of the revision of the map and its printing in Edinburgh covered. A second edition was run off in 1794 when John Rennie discovered the engraved copper plate at the Edinburgh printers.