Top engineering award for museum showpiece

Dudley’s full-size replica of the world’s first steam engine is to join the ranks of engineering feats such as London’s Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast and the E-type Jaguar – thanks to a top award.

Newcomen (email pic) 2

The Black Country Living Museum’s version of the Newcomen Engine is to join the other prestigious recipients of the Mechanical Engineers’ Engineering Heritage Award tomorrow.

The replica was built by the museum after 10 years of painstaking research.

The original was built by Thomas Newcomen in 1712 to pump water from coal mines on Lord Dudley’s estates.


John Wood, chairman of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Engineering Heritage Awards, will present the award to John Hughes, chairman of the Black Country Living Museum Trust.

The machine was built in 1986, using 18th century engravings, inventories and descriptions of the original engine, which was built near Dudley.

It is the only full-size working replica of the engine in existence.

Mr Wood said: “It is impossible to overstate the importance of the Newcomen Engine.

“This engine marked the dawn of the industrial revolution.

“It was the first practical device to use the power of steam for mechanical work and these engines were crucial to the development of the 18th century coal and metal mining industries in the Midlands, West Country, North Wales and Cumbria. He added: “This impressively accurate working replica is a glimpse into the techniques of these early pioneers and enables us to see exactly what it was like to operate these early engines.”

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