Thomas Newcomen

(1663—1729) ironmonger and inventor of the atmospheric steam engine

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Dartmouth ironmonger and inventor of the steam‐engine. He combined Savery's independent boiler with the piston in his first ‘fire engine’ of 1712 at Dudley, applying atmospheric pressure to the top of the cylinder in which steam was condensed to create a partial vacuum and drive down the piston. Its use was confined to pumping water from mines. Smeaton's improvements allowed such engines to supply most horsepower in use c.1800, and Francis Thompson's patent (1792), effective rotary motion.

Subjects: British History — Economic History.

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