John Child’s working model of a Newcomen Atmospheric Engine.
It was Thomas Newcomen who designed and built the first practical working steam engine in 1712; his invention changed the world. There is surprisingly very little known about Newcomen as a person and his first engine.
He was born 1664 in Dartmouth, Devon, to a merchant family eventually becoming an ironmonger by trade and a Baptist lay preacher. Newcomen and his partner John Calley built the first successful engine in the vicinity of Conygree Coalworks near Dudley in the West Midlands, the exact location has still to be defined.
It was most likely built from an eclectic mix of parts available to Newcomen as part of his ironmongery business; bits of scrap and allsorts, a BSA, but it worked. So why is it when people think of steam engines, the name James Watt springs to mind?
Newcomen was just an…
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