Early Newcomen water-pumping steam engine, Oxclose, Tyne & Wear, 1717.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving drawn by Henry Beighton of Newcastle in 1717, showing what is believed to be his own modified version of Newcomen's engine for pumping water from mines, erected at Oxclose, near Washington, Tyne & Wear. In that year, Beighton had invented a safety valve which prevented boiler failure, improving upon the original atmopheric engine designed by Thomas Newcomen (1663-1729) in 1712. Newcomen's invention marked a landmark in the Industrial Revolution and the development of the steam engine, employing a vacuum created by condensing steam from a presure only just above atmospheric. By the time of his death there were over 100 engines working all over Europe.