The 'Comet' steam engine, 1812.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 21cm x 32cm

The 'Comet' steam engine, 1812.

© Science & Society


Henry Bell, a hotelier near the mouth of the Clyde, had the wooden ship built to bring visitors to his hotel from Glasgow. Other routes followed, and the hull was lengthened. In December 1820 it was returning from Fort William when it ran ashore and the boat broke in half. Bell still owed money, so one of his creditors, Bailie McLellan, put its engine to work driving machinery in his coachworks. It was exhibited at Glasgow Polytechnic where a fire caused the engine to fall from the top storey. Finally John Napier gained custody of the engine.

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