Atmospheric engine by Francis Thompson, 1791
This atmospheric engine was built by Francis Thompson at Oakerthorpe Colliery, Derbyshire, in 1791. The atmospheric engine was invented by Thomas Newcomen in or before 1712. Industrial use of coal was made possible by engines like this, the oldest Newcomen-type engine to survive complete and largely unaltered. It condensed steam to create a vacuum in a cylinder, allowing atmospheric pressure to perform the working stroke, and was used to pump water from mines. The basic design of this ‘atmospheric’ engine remained unchanged for over a century. This engine worked until 1918, and its working life of 127 years is among the longest recorded. It is displayed in portions of its second engine house.
- Currently on display in:
- Energy Hall
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