Priestman oil engine built in 1895, on display at the Science Museum, c 1990.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
William Dent Priestman (1847-1936) became interested in internal combustion engines in the 1870s and began to manufacture petrol engines under the patent of Eugene Eteve of Paris. Fearing the dangers of petrol, Priestman experimented with the use of lamp oil as an engine fuel. This was the first internal combustion engine to work succesfully on fuels heavier than petrol, and was sold from 1888 until 1904. Priestman's many patents included a vaporiser and reversing propellers. A strict Quaker, Priestman, gave up industry in 1904 and devoted his life to charity. The engine is shown on display in the East Hall gallery at the Science Museum, London.