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Newcomen Engine

In 1712 Thomas Newcomen built the first successful steam engine in the world which was used for pumping water from coal mines on Lord Dudley's estates.

In 1986, after more than ten years of painstaking research, the Museum completed the construction of a full scale working replica of that 1712 engine.

The 'fire engine' as it was known, is an impressive brick building from which a wooden beam projects through one wall. Rods hang from the outer end of the beam and operate pumps at the bottom of the mine shaft which raise the water to the surface. The engine itself is simple, with only a boiler, a cylinder and piston and operating valves.

A coal fire heats the water in the boiler which is little more than a covered pan and the steam generated then passes through a valve into the brass cylinder above the boiler. The cylinder is more than 2m long and 52cm in diameter. The steam in the cylinder is condensed by injecting cold water and the vacuum beneath the piston pulls the inner end of the beam down and causes the pump to move.

We're sorry but...

After 31 years in operation at the Museum, the Newcomen Steam Engine Boiler is in need of replacing. 

We’re sourcing a new boiler so that the necessary works can be undertaken. Until then, the Newcomen building will remain open and the brickwork exposed so that you can see the boiler prior to its replacement, but it will not be steamed.

We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused but if it’s steam that you’re particularly interested in, don’t forget that we’ve recently completed our restoration of the Racecourse Colliery



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