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Newcomen Engine at Wheal Fortune, site of
Truthwall, east of Penzance, Cornwall, UK
associated engineer
Thomas Newcomen
date  1718 - 1720
UK era  Georgian  |  category  Steam Engine or Locomotive  |  reference  SW528325
Thomas Newcomen invented the atmospheric steam engine principally for the pumping of water from mine workings. The Wheal Fortune engine was probably the last that he helped to erect personally, though no trace of it remains. It is probable that he erected another in Cornwall a decade earlier at Wheal Vor near Breage, though his first known engine was completed in 1712 at a colliery near Dudley in the West Midlands.
Wheal Fortune mine yielded copper and tin. It was located on land at Truthwall, north east of Penzance, owned by Lord Francis Godolphin (1678-1766). The mine was managed by William Lemon (16961760), who decided to install the Newcomen engine to increase productivity apparently earning himself a fortune of 10,000. Lemon went on to work profitable mines in the Gwennap area and was elected mayor of Truro in 1737.
Thomas Newcomen (1663/4-1729) was in Cornwall during the year 1718, and from July to December 1719, overseeing construction of the engine and its associated building. The Wheal Fortune engine was larger than any previous one, and it took longer to complete the installation.
The engine had a 1.19m diameter cylinder and worked at 15 strokes per minute, pumping almost 240 litres of water at each stroke or 214,600 litres per hour. It raised water in two lifts from a shaft 54.9m deep. The pump pipes had a bore of 380mm, though the lower lift may have had a smaller bore of 230mm.
It is not known how long the engine was at work but the engine house was in ruins by 1865.
Research: ECPK
"The Steam Engine of Thomas Newcomen" by L.T.C. Rolt and J.S. Allen, Landmark Publishing, Ashbourne, second revised edition 1997
"Thomas Newcomen (1663/4-1729) and His Family" by John S. Allen, in Transactions of the Newcomen Society, London, 10th October 1979
"Capital and Steam Power: 1750-1800" by John Lord, first published 1923, reprinted Routledge, Abingdon, 2006
reference sources   Smiles

Newcomen Engine at Wheal Fortune, site of