Newcomen Engine Torquay
Mayors Avenue
Devon TQ6 9NG 
 
 
 
Several very important inventions brought about the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century.  One of them was the atmospheric pumping engine invented by Dartmouth ironmonger, Thomas Newcomen.  Thomas’s house and workshop were near the Guildhall and are marked by blue plaques.
 
The importance of Newcomen’s invention cannot be underestimated.  His vacuum pumping engine represents a landmark in the development of steam engines. He developed a scale model of his engine in his workshop 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.
 
World's first Reciprocating Steam Engine
Thomas Newcomen not only sold ironmongery but fabricated parts himself from metal.  He became familiar with the difficulties and expense of removing water from Devon and Cornwall mines.  About 1710 he constructed the world's first reciprocating steam engine.
 
Newcomen discovered that injecting water directly into the engine cylinder resulted in the immediate condensation of the steam within, and that the piston above would move rapidly down under atmospheric pressure. By the repeated application of low-pressure steam to the cylinder, followed by the injection of water, the engine would operate the beam and hence the pumps. A system of levers was designed; these were actuated by pegs upon a plug rod, and thus the engine became self operating.
 
In 1963 the British Transport Commission donated the engine on display to the Newcomen Society.  This particular engine was built around the end of the 18th century and was used by the Coventry Canal Company from 1821 to 1913 for pumping water from a well into the canal at Hawkesbury Junction.
 
1712 Dudley Castle Engine
There are no true Newcomen engines in existence today, but at the Black Country Living Museum at Dudley (West Midlands) there is a unique full-sized working replica of the 1712 Dudley Castle engine, based on a drawing of 1719. The engine is operated under steam from time to time, and can be observed by the public.
 
My thanks for this information go to the Newcomen Society. For more information on Thomas Newcomen and his engines, go to  Web:  The Newcomen Society   External Link
 
Plan Your Visit 
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Further Information
Website  Newcomen Engine    External Link
 
Opening Times
Open - All year
Mon – Sat      09:00 – 17:30 (closes 17:00 in winter)
Sunday          10:00 – 16:00 (summer only)
 
Getting There
The Newcomen Engine is found adjacent to the Tourist Information Centre, Mayors Avenue, Dartmouth.
 
Google Maps - Newcomen Engine