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Home of Thomas Newcomen, site of
Newcomen Road, Dartmouth, Devon, UK
associated engineer
Thomas Newcomen
date  1705 - 1786
era  Stuart  |  category  Home of Engineer  |  reference  SX877512
Steam engine pioneer Thomas Newcomen (1663/4-1729) lived and had his workshop on Higher Street in Dartmouth, where he did his experimenting. He completed his first known working engine in 1712, installed near Tipton in Staffordshire. The buildings were demolished in 1864 and Newcomen Road was constructed on the site.
The timber frame Newcomen house was large, bordered by Higher Street on the west and Lower Street to the east, with an enclosed courtyard in the middle. It had low ceilings and a pitched tiled roof with sloping downpipes. The Lee family probably built this house in about 1635, along with several others.
After Newcomen's marriage to Hannah Waymouth in 1705, the couple moved into this house, taking over an existing lease. On 18th December 1707, Newcomen renewed the lease, for which he paid rent of Ł1 6s 8d (Ł1.33) annually. He also leased a workshop with a cellar, located to the south and also on Higher Street.
Newcomen and his family followed the Baptist faith, and he set aside part of his home as a place of worship for his fellow Baptists — acting as both leader and teacher. After his death in 1729, his son Elias (1706-65) renewed the leases and continued the ironmongery business that his father had started before his engine-building business began. Elias’s widow held the leases until 1786.
The house passed through many other hands over the years, and was partitioned for multi-occupancy. By 1864 there were plans for road widening and the property was sold under corporation leasehold. Eventually the site was sold as freehold in April 1865. The house and surrounding dwellings were probably demolished in November 1864.
Newcomen Road was built in 1866. However, ironically it was named for William Newcomen, a lawyer, rather than the then-forgotten and now-famous engineer.
Some of the linenfold panelling from the parlour of Newcomen’s house was rescued before demolition and may now be seen at the Dartmouth Museum.
Research: ECPK
bibliography
"The Steam Engine of Thomas Newcomen” by L.T.C. Rolt and J.S. Allen, Landmark Publishing, Ashbourne, second revised edition 1997
"The Dartmouth Residences of Thomas Newcomen and his Family"
by I.H. Smart, in Transactions of the Newcomen Society, 1988
www.englishheritage.org.uk
Location

Home of Thomas Newcomen, site of