Newcomen steam engine, 1752.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A model of an engine built at Griff Colliery in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, in 1720. Thomas Newcomen (1663-1729) designed an atmospheric or 'steam' engine in 1712. It was safer and more effective than the earlier Thomas Savery (c 1650-1715) engine and was widely used to drain water out of mines. Water was heated in the boiler and the resulting steam was let into the cylinder, pushing up the piston. The steam was then condensed, bringing down the piston. The piston rocked the beam which worked the pump, drawing out the water. This model is asociated with Dr Stephen Demainbray (1759-1854), physics lecturer and King's Astronomer at Kew Observatory, London.