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The Agricultural Revolution Index

Introduction to the Agricultural Revolution

The Industrial Revolution Index

Introduction to the First Industrial Revolution

The Search for New Power Sources Index

The Development of Coal Mining
Steam : Thomas Savery and Thomas Newcomen
James Watt
Matthew Boulton

History Chapters Main Index

 

Chronology of the development of
Steam Pumps and Engines

1696

Thomas Savery invented a steam-driven water pump

1698

Thomas Savery patented his inverted steam-driver and formed a partnership with Newcomen.

1705

Newcomen and Cully made a successful steam engine which they called a "fire engine"

(late 1690s)


1700

1712

Newcomen made the first atmospheric steam engine. He also invented the internal condensing jet.

1710

1755

First exportation of Newcomen's steam engine to America.

1750

1765

James Watt invented the internal condenser

1769

Watt improved on Newcomen's steam engine by designing a separate condenser unit.

1760

1775

Watt formed a partnership with Matthew Boulton.
James Wilkinson constructed a boring machine which bored cylinders for Watt's engine.

1770

1781

Watt developed the compound steam engine

1782

Watt patented the double acting rotative steam engine.

1785

Cartwright introduced the power loom which was driven by steam.

1786

Boulton applied steam power to machinery used to make coins.
Arkwright used the rotary action steam engine in his new London cotton mill.

1788

Boulton introduced the rotary action steam engine to run the lapping machines in his Birmingham factory

1780

1790

Arkwright's steam-powered factory opens
The Newcomen engine was completely replaced by Watt's engine.

1790

1839

James Nasmyth invented the steam hammer

1830

 

TWO CENTURIES OF REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE

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The Industrial Revolution

The Search for New Power Sources

 

Early Forms of Power

 

Windmill ceramic   Shirley Burchill

Windmill ceramic © Shirley Burchill

 

At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution there were very few forms of power, other than human or animal power. The only two other power sources available were wind and water. Of the two, water was the older power source. Water wheels had been in use since the Roman period. Windmills had only came into general use in Europe around the 12th century.

Although water was a useful and free energy source, the mill wheels relied upon a constant source of water in order to operate. Ancient texts are full of references to people starving because the mills could not grind flour, either because the water level was too low in summer or because the mills were frozen up in winter. (This was more of a problem in the Middle Ages because winters were more severe than they are today).

 

The need for new power sources

The mills that first provided the power for the water frames that spun the yarn, and later for the power looms, were subject to the same problems with the water supply. Also, these mills tended to be in remote mountain areas, next to the water supply. This meant that it was difficult to find a sufficient number of people to work the mills and it created transport problems.

Indeed, mill owners were constantly advertising for staff, some of them going as far as to advertise in national newspapers for orphans to be sent to them. These children, from seven years upwards, would be together housed in barrack-like buildings and made to work between 12 to 18 hour days.

 

Water wheel ceramic   Shirley Burchill

Water wheel ceramic © Shirley Burchill

 

So there was a need to find a new source of power, not only because of the problems with regard to water during the different seasons, but also because the number of places where water could be found in sufficient quantities were becoming much scarcer.

 

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