Thomas Newcomen
Overview
 
Thomas Newcomen was an ironmonger by trade and a Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 lay preacher by calling. He was born in Dartmouth, Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

, England, near a part of the country noted for its tin
Tin
Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

 mine
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

s. Flooding was a major problem, limiting the depth at which the mineral could be mined. Newcomen created the first practical steam engine for pumping water, the Newcomen steam engine
Newcomen steam engine
The atmospheric engine invented by Thomas Newcomen in 1712, today referred to as a Newcomen steam engine , was the first practical device to harness the power of steam to produce mechanical work. Newcomen engines were used throughout Britain and Europe, principally to pump water out of mines,...

. Consequently, he can be regarded as a forefather of the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

.
He could be said to have been more than a lay preacher as he was a teaching elder in the local Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 church.
Encyclopedia
Thomas Newcomen was an ironmonger by trade and a Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 lay preacher by calling. He was born in Dartmouth, Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

, England, near a part of the country noted for its tin
Tin
Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

 mine
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

s. Flooding was a major problem, limiting the depth at which the mineral could be mined. Newcomen created the first practical steam engine for pumping water, the Newcomen steam engine
Newcomen steam engine
The atmospheric engine invented by Thomas Newcomen in 1712, today referred to as a Newcomen steam engine , was the first practical device to harness the power of steam to produce mechanical work. Newcomen engines were used throughout Britain and Europe, principally to pump water out of mines,...

. Consequently, he can be regarded as a forefather of the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

.

Religious life

He could be said to have been more than a lay preacher as he was a teaching elder in the local Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 church. That he continued in business is almost certainly because the church could not afford to pay him as a full-time elder. His father had been one of a group who brought the well-known Puritan
Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

 John Flavel
John Flavel
John Flavel was an English Presbyterian clergyman and author.-Life:Flavel was born at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire and studied at Oxford. Ordained as a Presbyterian in 1650, though later a Congregationalist, he held livings at Diptford and Dartmouth...

 to Dartmouth. Later one of Newcomen's business contacts in London, Edward Wallin, was another Baptist minister who had connections with the well known Dr. John Gill
John Gill (theologian)
John Gill was an English Baptist pastor, biblical scholar, and theologian who held to a firm Calvinistic soteriology. Born in Kettering, Northamptonshire, he attended Kettering Grammar School where he mastered the Latin classics and learned Greek by age 11...

 of Horsleydown, Southwark. Newcomen's connection with the Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 church at Bromsgrove
Bromsgrove
Bromsgrove is a town in Worcestershire, England. The town is about north east of Worcester and south west of Birmingham city centre. It had a population of 29,237 in 2001 with a small ethnic minority and is in Bromsgrove District.- History :Bromsgrove is first documented in the early 9th century...

 materially aided the spread of his steam engine.

Developing the steam engine

Newcomen's great achievement was his steam engine, probably developed about 1710, combining the ideas of Thomas Savery
Thomas Savery
Thomas Savery was an English inventor, born at Shilstone, a manor house near Modbury, Devon, England.-Career:Savery became a military engineer, rising to the rank of Captain by 1702, and spent his free time performing experiments in mechanics...

 and Denis Papin
Denis Papin
Denis Papin was a French physicist, mathematician and inventor, best known for his pioneering invention of the steam digester, the forerunner of the steam engine and of the pressure cooker.-Life in France:...

. It is likely that Newcomen was already acquainted with Savery, whose forebears were merchants in south Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

 in 1712. Savery also had a post with the Commissioners for Sick and Hurt Seamen, which took him to Dartmouth. Savery had devised a 'fire engine', a kind of thermic syphon
Thermic syphon
Thermic siphons are heat-exchanging elements in the firebox or combustion chamber of some steam boiler and steam locomotive designs. As they are directly exposed to the radiant heat of combustion, they have a high evaporative capacity relative to their size...

, in which steam was admitted to an empty container and then condensed. The vacuum
Vacuum
In everyday usage, vacuum is a volume of space that is essentially empty of matter, such that its gaseous pressure is much less than atmospheric pressure. The word comes from the Latin term for "empty". A perfect vacuum would be one with no particles in it at all, which is impossible to achieve in...

 thus created was used to suck water from the sump
Sump
A sump is a low space that collects any often-undesirable liquids such as water or chemicals. A sump can also be an infiltration basin used to manage surface runoff water and recharge underground aquifers....

 at the bottom of the mine. The 'fire engine' was not very effective and could not work beyond a limited depth of around thirty feet.

Newcomen replaced the receiving vessel (where the steam was condensed) with a cylinder containing a piston. Instead of the vacuum drawing in water, it drew down the piston. This was used to work a beam engine
Beam engine
A beam engine is a type of steam engine where a pivoted overhead beam is used to apply the force from a vertical piston to a vertical connecting rod. This configuration, with the engine directly driving a pump, was first used by Thomas Newcomen around 1705 to remove water from mines in Cornwall...

, in which a large wooden beam rocked upon a central fulcrum
Lever
In physics, a lever is a rigid object that is used with an appropriate fulcrum or pivot point to either multiply the mechanical force that can be applied to another object or resistance force , or multiply the distance and speed at which the opposite end of the rigid object travels.This leverage...

. On the other side of the beam was a chain attached to a pump
Pump
A pump is a device used to move fluids, such as liquids, gases or slurries.A pump displaces a volume by physical or mechanical action. Pumps fall into three major groups: direct lift, displacement, and gravity pumps...

 at the base of the mine. As the steam cylinder was refilled with steam, readying it for the next power stroke
Power stroke
Power Stroke may refer to:In motoring:*Power stroke , the stroke of a cyclic motor which generates force*Ford Power Stroke engine, Ford diesel engineOther:*In baseball, a batter who hits for extra bases is said to have a power stroke...

, water was drawn into the pump cylinder and expelled into a pipe to the surface by the weight of the machinery. Newcomen and his partner John Calley
John Calley (engineer)
John Calley , a metalworker, plumber and glass-blower, was Thomas Newcomen's partner. He helped develop the Newcomen steam engine, and his name is listed on the patent with Newcomen and Thomas Savery.-References:...

 built one of the first engines at the Conygree Coalworks near Dudley
Dudley
Dudley is a large town in the West Midlands county of England. At the 2001 census , the Dudley Urban Sub Area had a population of 194,919, making it the 26th largest settlement in England, the second largest town in the United Kingdom behind Reading, and the largest settlement in the UK without...

 in the West Midlands. A working replica of this engine can be seen at the Black Country Living Museum
Black Country Living Museum
The Black Country Living Museum is an open-air museum of rebuilt historic buildings, located in Dudley in the West Midlands of England. The museum occupies a urban heritage park in the shadow of Dudley Castle in the centre of the Black Country conurbation...

 nearby.

Later life, and death

Comparatively little is known of Newcomen's later life. In his later life (at least), the engine affairs were conducted through an unincorporated company, the 'Proprietors of the Invention for Raising Water by Fire'. Its secretary and treasurer was John Meres, clerk to the Society of Apothecaries in London. That society formed a company which had a monopoly on supplying medicines to the Navy providing a close link with Savery, whose will
Will (law)
A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his/her property at death...

 he witnessed. The Committee of the Proprietors also included Edward Wallin, a Baptist of Swedish descent; and pastor of a church at Maze Pond, Southwark
Southwark
Southwark is a district of south London, England, and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Southwark. Situated east of Charing Cross, it forms one of the oldest parts of London and fronts the River Thames to the north...

. Newcomen died at his house in 1729, and his body was buried at Bunhill Fields
Bunhill Fields
Bunhill Fields is a cemetery in the London Borough of Islington, north of the City of London, and managed by the City of London Corporation. It is about 4 hectares in extent, although historically was much larger....

, a cemetery in north London; the exact location of his grave is now not known.

By the time of his death, about 75 of his engines, operating under Savery's patent (extended by statute so that it did not expire until 1733), had been installed by Newcomen and others in most of the important mining districts of Britain: draining coal mines in the Black Country
Black Country
The Black Country is a loosely defined area of the English West Midlands conurbation, to the north and west of Birmingham, and to the south and east of Wolverhampton. During the industrial revolution in the 19th century this area had become one of the most intensely industrialised in the nation...

, Warwickshire
Warwickshire
Warwickshire is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare...

 and near Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne is a city and metropolitan borough of Tyne and Wear, in North East England. Historically a part of Northumberland, it is situated on the north bank of the River Tyne...

; at tin and copper mines in Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

; and in lead mines in Flintshire
Flintshire
Flintshire is a county in north-east Wales. It borders Denbighshire, Wrexham and the English county of Cheshire. It is named after the historic county of Flintshire, which had notably different borders...

 and Derbyshire
Derbyshire
Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England. A substantial portion of the Peak District National Park lies within Derbyshire. The northern part of Derbyshire overlaps with the Pennines, a famous chain of hills and mountains. The county contains within its boundary of approx...

, amongst other places

After Newcomen

The Newcomen engine held its place without material change for about three-quarters of a century, spreading gradually to more and more areas of the UK and to mainland Europe. At first brass cylinders had been used but these were expensive and limited in size. New iron casting techniques pioneered by the Coalbrookdale
Coalbrookdale
Coalbrookdale is a village in the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire, England, containing a settlement of great significance in the history of iron ore smelting. This is where iron ore was first smelted by Abraham Darby using easily mined "coking coal". The coal was drawn from drift mines in the sides...

 Company in the 1720s allowed bigger and bigger cylinders to be used, up to about 6 feet (1.8 m) in diameter by the 1760s, and experience gradually led to better construction and minor refinements in layout. Its mechanical details were much improved by John Smeaton
John Smeaton
John Smeaton, FRS, was an English civil engineer responsible for the design of bridges, canals, harbours and lighthouses. He was also a capable mechanical engineer and an eminent physicist...

, who built many large engines of this type in the early 1770s; his improvements were rapidly adopted. By 1775 about 600 Newcomen engines had been built, although many of these had worn out before then, and been abandoned or replaced.

The Newcomen Engine was by no means an efficient machine, although it was probably as complicated as engineering and materials techniques of the early eighteenth century could support. Much heat was lost when condensing the steam, as this cooled the cylinder. This did not matter unduly at a colliery, where unsaleable small coal (slack) was available, but significantly increased the mining costs where coal was not readily available, as in Cornwall. Therefore, Newcomen's engine was gradually replaced after 1775 in areas where coal was expensive (especially in Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

) by an improved design, invented by James Watt
James Watt
James Watt, FRS, FRSE was a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer whose improvements to the Newcomen steam engine were fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution in both his native Great Britain and the rest of the world.While working as an instrument maker at the...

, in which the steam was condensed in a separate condenser. The Watt steam engine
Watt steam engine
The Watt steam engine was the first type of steam engine to make use of steam at a pressure just above atmospheric to drive the piston helped by a partial vacuum...

, aided by better engineering techniques including Wilkinson's
John Wilkinson (industrialist)
John "Iron-Mad" Wilkinson was an English industrialist who pioneered the use and manufacture of cast iron and cast-iron goods in the Industrial Revolution.-Early life:...

 boring machine, was much more fuel efficient, enabling Watt and his partner Matthew Boulton
Matthew Boulton
Matthew Boulton, FRS was an English manufacturer and business partner of Scottish engineer James Watt. In the final quarter of the 18th century the partnership installed hundreds of Boulton & Watt steam engines, which were a great advance on the state of the art, making possible the...

 to collect substantial royalties based on the fuel saved.

Watt subsequently made other improvements, including the double-acting engine, where both the up and down strokes were power strokes. These were especially suitable for driving textile mills, and many Watt engines were employed in these industries. At first attempts to drive machinery by Newcomen engines had mixed success, as the single power stroke produced a jerky motion, but use of flywheels and better engineering largely overcame these problems. By 1800 hundreds of non-Watt rotary engines had been built, especially in collieries and ironworks where irregular motion was not a problem but also in textile mills. (see reference (2) below).

Despite Watt's improvements, Common Engines (as they were then known) remained in use for a considerable time, and many more Newcomen engines than Watt ones were built even during the period of Watt's patent (up to 1800), as they were cheaper and less complicated: of over 2,200 engines built in the eighteenth century, only about 450 were Watt engines. Elements of Watt's design, especially the Separate Condenser, were incorporated in many "pirate" engines. Even after 1800 Newcomen type engines continued to be built and condensers were added routinely to these. They were also commonly retro-fitted to existing Newcomen engines (the so-called "pickle-pot" condenser).

Example Newcomen engines

There are examples of Newcomen engines in the Science Museum (London)
Science Museum (London)
The Science Museum is one of the three major museums on Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is part of the National Museum of Science and Industry. The museum is a major London tourist attraction....

 and the Ford Museum
The Henry Ford
The Henry Ford, a National Historic Landmark, , in the Metro Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, USA, is a large indoor and outdoor history museum complex...

, Dearborn amongst other places. Perhaps the last Newcomen-style engine to be used commercially – and the last still remaining on its original site – is at the Elsecar Heritage Centre
Elsecar Heritage Centre
Elsecar Heritage Centre is a Living History centre in Elsecar, South Yorkshire. It also comprises various shops, galleries, art studios and an exhibition hall. It runs craft workshops, special events, and a monthly antiques fair. The buildings were originally used for various industries including...

, near Barnsley
Barnsley
Barnsley is a town in South Yorkshire, England. It lies on the River Dearne, north of the city of Sheffield, south of Leeds and west of Doncaster. Barnsley is surrounded by several smaller settlements which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley, of which Barnsley is the largest and...

 in South Yorkshire
South Yorkshire
South Yorkshire is a metropolitan county in the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England. It has a population of 1.29 million. It consists of four metropolitan boroughs: Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, and City of Sheffield...

. The only Newcomen engines that can be shown working are believed to be the Newcomen Memorial Engine at Dartmouth and the replica engine at the Black Country Museum.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK