Newcomen Memorial Engine
The Newcomen Memorial Engine can be seen in Dartmouth, home of Thomas Newcomen, at The Engine House, Mayors Avenue, Dartmouth, Devon, TQ6 9YY.
For more information and a map, see the 'Discover Dartmouth' Newcomen Engine webpage, which describes the engine as the oldest preserved steam engine in the world.
It was originally built c.1725 to pump water out the Griff Colliery in Staffordshire. It was moved to a coal mine at Measham, and in 1821 it was bought for use at Hawkesbury Colliery, Warwickshire and worked there until 1913. In 1964 it was reassembled in Dartmouth, the home town of its inventor, by the Newcomen Society.
The Dartmouth engine shows most of the features of the earliest Newcomen engines. It has a simple, untrussed, wooden beam with arch heads, chain connections and wooden spring beams. The current steam valve and water injection mechanisms apparently date from 1821, and are activated automatically by a plug-rod, as in the early engines. Another change was the provision of a separate ‘pickle-pot’ condenser, fitted directly beneath the cylinder. The engine can be operated by a hydraulic mechanism to demonstrate the motion of the engine and the operation of the valves.
The main cast iron components, including the steam cylinder, piston and pump barrel are original 1725 items, made by the Coalbrookdale Co. The cylinder bore was measured in 1963 and found to be no more than 1/16" (1.6mm) out of truth. Many of the wooden components, including the beam, are thought to be original.
The above information was taken mainly from a display board adjacent to the engine and from 'The Beam Engine' by T E Crowley
Sources of Information
- “From Hawkesbury to Dartmouth”: The Removal of the Newcomen Memorial Engine by ARTHUR PYNE. Transactions of the Newcomen Society Vol. 38 , Iss. 1, 1965
- 'The Beam Engine' by T E Crowley, Senecio Publishing Co Ltd., 1982