Revival of A Newcomen Engine


Built in 1795, at a cost of £167, the Elsecar Newcomen Engine was used to pump water out of the Elsecar Colliery for the deeper exploitation of coal .

Now nearly 220 years after it was built it sits there still, in the Yorkshire village where it was first installed; said to be one of the most important pieces of industrial heritage in the world.  Henry Ford even offered a blank cheque for its purchase in 1927…

The Newcomen Engine was invented by steam engine pioneer Thomas Newcomen of Dartmouth, South Devon. Combining the ideas of Thomas Savery and Denis Papin his original ideas were probably developed as early as 1710. He was a man described as ‘the father of the Industrial Revolution’.

Only a handful of engines survive. The earliest engines were possibly those erected at Dudley Castle (see image below), St. Newlyn East, and Wheal Vor of Cornwall.

The Newcomen Engine of Dudley Castle erected c1712

The Elsecar Engine was possibly the last commercially-used engine, but it remains unique being the last remaining in its original site; inherited back in 1795 by the Fitzwilliam family for their industrial powerhouse at Elsecar until 1923.  Other than being used as a back-up during the 1930’s, the engine has slowly faded into history, until three years ago when restoration began.

Last month, following the £500,000 restoration project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Barnsley Council and English Heritage, the engine was announced to being back to its original glory.

Visit the Elsecar Heritage Centre to learn more about the mining history of the area and see the Elsecar Newcomen Engine.

Read more about the incredible story of this piece of industrial history that helped paved the way for the industrial revolution on Grace’s Guide.

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