The Newcomen Engine

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  • Address:
    Dartmouth, Devon
    United States
  • Telephone: +44 (0)20 7371 4445
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    The Newcomen Engine, Dartmouth

    Thomas Newcomen is one of Dartmouth's most famous sons.

    His pumping engine represents a landmark in the development of steam engines. He was born in 1663, the son of a merchant and shipowner. The family had strict Baptist beliefs and, throughout his life, Thomas was a highly active preacher.

    He worked as an ironmonger and inventor and by 1707 was living next to the Guildhall. With his partner, a fellow Baptist, Jon Calley, he developed a steam engine which represented one of the major advances of the Industrial Revolution.

    He developed a scale model of his engine in his workshop in Dartmouth around 1710 and the first working engine, built near Dudley Castle in the South Staffordshire coalfield, followed two years later. By the time of his death in 1729 there were over a hundred engines working all over Europe.

    The engine on display in Dartmouth was donated by the British Transport Commission to the Newcomen Society in 1963 and erected within an old electricity sub station. This particular engine was built around 1725

     at Griff Colliery, before moving elsewhere. The beam and cylinder are believed to be original; valve gear was replaced in 1821, and used by the Coventry Canal Company from 1821 to 1913 for pumping water from a well into the canal at Hawkesbury Junction.

    The engine is a direct descendent of Newcomen's first machine. Inside the Newcomen Engine House the massive machine stands proud and attractive and wooden interpretive panels made by local craftsman Peter Walmsley tell the story of Thomas Newcomen and his inventions.

    The Newcomen Engine is found adjacent to the Tourist Information Centre, Mayers Avenue, Dartmouth.

    Open All Year     Monday-Saturday Sunday
    Summer 0900-1730 1000-1600
    Winter 0900-1700 Closed