Thomas Newcomen

Thomas Newcomen

Thomas Newcomen was a prominent British engineer, best known for inventing the atmospheric steam engine, which was the the world’s oldest known steam engine for pumping water. The Newcomen engine largely influenced later designs such as James Watt’s engine.


Born in Dartmouth, Devon, England, Thomas Newcomen initially worked as an ironmonger at Dartmouth. Since flooding was a major problem in the area, Newcomen, with the help of a plumber named John Calley, extensively worked on a steam pump, which was found to be much efficient than Thomas Savery’s conventional crude pump.

In this design, the intensity of pressure was not restricted by the pressure of the steam. Newcomen devised the internal-condensing jet for producing a vacuum in the cylinder and an automatic valve gear.

The first operational Newcomen engine was built in 1712 near Dudley Castle, Staffordshire. It proved to be a very efficient and cost-effective tool for drainage of mines and raising water to power waterwheels.

Later Life and Death:

Thomas Newcomen died on August 5, 1729 in London, England. He was 65 years old.