(1663-1729) English inventor of an early steam engine. His “fire engine” 1712 was used for pumping water from mines until James Watt invented one with a separate condenser.
Newcomen was born in Dartmouth, Devon, and set up a blacksmith’s shop there, assisted by a plumber called John Calley (died 1717). The first authenticated Newcomen engine was erected in 1712 near Dudley Castle, Wolverhampton, but a number of earlier machines must have been operated to develop the engine to this point. The whole situation is confused by a patent granted to Thomas Savery to “raise water by the force of fire”; in later years Newcomen paid royalties to Savery.
Newcomen's engine consumed an enormous amount of coal because fresh hot steam had to be raised for each piston stroke. The early engines were very expensive because the cylinder was made of brass; later, iron cylinders were produced, but they were thick-walled and consequently even less efficient in terms of coal consumed. However, they were mostly used in coal mines.
It was with the Newcomen engine that the age of steam began.