1700’s - Beam Engine
Steam power was the single most important factor creating today's industrialised, technology-based society. Not successfully harnessed until the early 18th century, it was a crucial step in liberating humanity from toil. The first industrial use of steam was to drain mines, which were becoming too deep for the limited capacity of water- or animal-powered pumps. In the early steam engines developed by Thomas Savery, For instance, pouring cold water over the outside of a steam-filled vessel created a partial vacuum that could be used to raise water through a suction pipe. In later designs by Thomas Newcomen and others, steam supplied by a boiler was used to drive a piston moving backwards and forwards in a cylinder. This piston was connected to one end of a rocking beam; the other was attached to pump rods that drew water out of the mine. The Cornish tin-mining industry had many beam engines, using them also for hauling ore out of the depths - the one shown here is attached to a winding drum - and powering the crushing stamps. The engine houses were immensely strong, the weight of the great cast-iron beam being supported on a granite wall six or more feet thick. Being so solid, their remains have defied the elements and they are scattered everywhere across the Cornish landscape, monuments to a now-vanished industry, One of the largest engines ever built is preserved at East Pool near Camborne, and there are a number of others in the county. The Science Museum in London has an entire gallery devoted to early steam engines, which are powered by compressed air.
|1700’s - Tide Mill|