Thomas Newcomen


Newcomen, Thomas (1663-1729), English blacksmith and inventor, born in Dartmouth, Devon.

Newcomen was not born in Stoke-on-Trent but his steam engine was installed in John Turners potworks in 1775.


In 1698 Newcomen went into partnership with the engineer Thomas Savery, who had already built a steam engine and obtained several patents. Newcomen attempted to produce a reliable steam engine, and in 1705 he devised an engine with another English inventor, John Calley, also known as John Cawley. The engine, which used both atmospheric pressure and low-pressure steam, was widely adopted for water pumping in most of Europe and was further improved by Newcomen in 1725.

Newcomen's engine was exported to North America in about 1755.

It remained basically unchanged until 1769, when the Scottish engineer and inventor James Watt invented a steam condenser that vastly increased the efficiency of the engine. By 1790 the Newcomen engine had been almost completely replaced by the Watt engine. Watt's engine, patented in 1769, greatly increased the economy of the Newcomen machine by avoiding the loss of steam that occurred in alternate heating and cooling of the engine cylinder.