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Newcomen Memorial Engine
Mayors Avenue, Dartmouth, Devon, UK
associated engineer
Thomas Newcomen
date  circa 1725
era  Georgian  |  category  Industrial Machinery  |  reference  SX877515
ICE reference number  HEW 1174
Installed in a former substation building in Dartmouth is a Newcomen atmospheric beam engine from around 1725 that used to work at Griff Colliery in Warwickshire. It was re-erected here in 1964 by Arthur Payne as a memorial marking the 300th anniversary of the birth of engineer Thomas Newcomen (1663/4-1729), the Dartmouth ironmonger who developed the atmospheric steam engine. It's possible that this engine was built by Newcomen himself.
Newcomen’s stationary engines were used for applications that required the raising of water, such as the draining of mines, and for driving mill machinery. There are known to have been 104 such engines in use around the country by 1733 and ultimately some 2,000 were manufactured.
This particular engine was installed at Griff Colliery (SP349895) near Nuneaton in 1725, though it is considered likely that it was actually a rebuilt version of an earlier engine constructed on the same spot by Newcomen in 1714. Part of the rebuild would have involved replacing the original brass cylinder with one of iron.
The engine was capable of pumping at 12 strokes per minute, moving 68,200 litres of water every hour. It was transferred to Oakthorpe Colliery, Measham, in about 1729. In 1821, it was moved to an engine house at Hawkesbury Canal Junction near Coventry and used there for pumping water from a well into the canal until 1913.
It lay idle for 50 years, but was then donated to the Newcomen Society by the British Transport Commission and moved to Devon in 1963. The engine — now known as the Newcomen Memorial Engine — was restored in 1964 and is now in working order. It can be seen in operation, but is now powered using an hydraulic mechanism rather than the original coal-fired boiler. Access to the engine house is through the Dartmouth Tourist Information Centre.
The design of the Memorial Engine is similar to the first known Newcomen engine of 1712, and it still has its 1725 beam and cylinder. The cast iron cylinder is 559mm in diameter and the timber beam is 3.7m long. A plug rod operates the valves. The pickle-pot condenser below the cylinder and some of the valve gear are later additions, probably dating from about 1820.
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 Newcomen Memorial Engine", International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, Dartmouth, 17th September 1981
www.devonmuseums.net
reference sources   CEH SouthBDCE1
Location

Newcomen Memorial Engine