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Hello all and welcome to todays blog i am Danny Hodgson a Master Chimney Sweep

Today we will be continuing our research into Devons History, venturing into Dartmouth, Devon.

We will be starting a series of blogs revolving around the industrial revolution.

Thomas Newcomen was an inventor from dartmouth, devon who revolutionised the steam engine

Thomas Newcomen

Inventor Thomas Newcomen (1663-1729) designed the world’s first successful atmospheric steam engine. His invention earned him a place as one of the pioneers of the Industrial Revolution.

Born in Dartmouth, Devon in 1663, Thomas Newcomen made a major contribution to the industrial revolution with his invention of the atmospheric engine.

By 1685 Newcomen had set himself up as an ironmonger in his home town.

Some of his biggest customers were the mine owners in Cornwall, who faced considerable difficulties with flooding, as the mines became progressively deeper.

The standard methods used to remove the water – manual pumping, or teams of horses hauling buckets on a rope – were slow and expensive, an alternative solution was needed, that solution came in the for of Thomas Newcomen.

In 1712 Newcomen invented the world’s first successful atmospheric steam engine.

The engine pumped water using a vacuum created by condensed steam.

It became an important method of draining water from deep mines and was therefore a vital component in the Industrial Revolution in Britain.

Newcomen’s invention enabled mines to be drained to greater depths than had previously been economically possible and so helped provide the coal, iron and other metals that were vital to the expansion of industry and ultimately the industrial revolution.

The atmospheric engine can, with some justification, claim to be the single most important invention of the Industrial Revolution.

it had an efficiency of only one per cent, but it was cheaper than using horses to power a pump.

Newcomen’s first working engine was installed at a coal mine at Dudley Castle in Staffordshire in 1712.

It had a cylinder 21 inches in diameter and nearly eight feet long, and it worked at 12 strokes a minute, raising 10 gallons of water from a depth of 156 feet.

The engines were rugged and reliable and worked day and night this made them very successful.

By the time Thomas Newcomen died in 1729, there were at least 100 of his engines working in Britain and across Europe.

They were used throughout the 18th century and were still influential into the 20th century.

One engine at Pentich was still operating 127 years after it was first installed.

The Thomas Newcomen steam engine used for pumping water out of tin mines and coal mines

However Newcomen didn’t die a wealthy man. He received little credit for his invention, most of the limelight falling onto James Watt who refined Newcomen’s idea.

The principle was used in the following century to create the ‘Atmospheric Railway’ where a train ran along lines, being propelled by the pressure difference created in a tube connected to steam engine houses along the route.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned, the next blog will be out shortly.

See more history here!

Danny Hodgson Master Chimney Sweep Devon

6 Responses to “Dartmouth, Devon’s Thomas Newcomen a steam revolution”

  1. Simon

    I lived in Dartmouth for ten years and it was only just before I left that the town council started talking seriously about honouring Newcomen.

    • Robert Sweet

      When I was at school in Dartmouth we were never told any of the local history ie Newcome we were told about Stevenson how he improved on the engine. We had our different houses Raleigh, Newcome, and a couple of other ones I can’t remember
      Good history thanks.



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