Thomas Newcomen

English inventor, ironmonger and Baptist lay preacher (1664-1729)

Thomas Newcomen (February 1664 – 5 August 1729) was an English inventor.[1] He made the first practical steam engine for pumping water, the Newcomen steam engine.

Animation of a schematic Newcomen steam engine.
– Steam is shown pink and water is blue.
– Valves move from open (green) to closed (red)

Newcomen was an ironmonger and a Baptist lay preacher. He was born in Dartmouth, Devon, England, to a merchant family and baptised at St. Saviour's Church on 24 February 1664.

Flooding in coal and tin mines was a large problem. Newcomen was trying to improve ways to pump out the water from the mines. His ironmonger's business specialised in tools for the mining industry.

His first engine was not very efficient, and used a lot of coal. The Watt steam engine, was much more fuel efficient. Watt and his partner Matthew Boulton got substantial royalties because their machines saved so much on fuel bills.

Surviving Newcomen engines change

There are examples of Newcomen engines in the Science Museum (London) and the Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan.[2]

Perhaps the last Newcomen-style engine to be used commercially – and the last still on its original site – is at the Elsecar Heritage Centre, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. Newcomen engines that can be seen working are the Newcomen Memorial Engine at Dartmouth and the replica engine at the Black Country Museum in Dudley, West Midlands.

References change

  1. Rolt L.T.C. & Allen J.S. 1977. The steam engines of Thomas Newcomen. 2 ed, Hartington: Moorland Publishing Company. ISBN 0-903485-42-7.
  2. Russell, Ben. "In pursuit of power". Archived from the original on 24 March 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2015.