Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Thomas Newcomen

Thomas Newcomen (baptized February 24,1664-August 5,1729), blacksmith and inventor - though he called himself an 'ironmonger' - was born in Dartmouth, Devon, England.

In 1712 Newcomen, with his business partner Thomas Savery, built an atmospheric steam engine for pumping water out of mines, from coal mines to the tin mines of Newcomen's native south-west England, particularly in Cornwall.

The Newcomen engine was first used near at the Conygree coalworks near Dudley in the West Midlands in 1712. A working replica has been constructed at the Black Country Living Museum there.

Further engines were installed by Newcomen himself in mines in the Midlands, north Wales and Cumbria, with over 100 built before the patent expired in 1733. The design was later improved by James Watt.

In London in 1920, a learned society to promote and encourage the study of the history of engineering and technology was formed, called the Newcomen Society, after Thomas Newcomen. An American branch was established soon after, and there are branches in Birmingham and Manchester, but the Newcomen Society of the United States is now entirely separate from its UK counterpart.