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Smethwick Engine

The Smethwick Engine is a Watt steam engine made by Boulton and Watt, which was installed near Birmingham, England, and was brought into service in May 1779. Now at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum, it is the oldest working steam engine and the oldest working engine in the world.

Smethwick Engine
The engine in steam at Birmingham's Thinktank museum
Origins
TypeWatt beam engine
DesignerJames Watt
MakerBoulton and Watt
DateMay 1779 (1779-05)
Country of originEngland
Former operatorBirmingham Canal Navigations
PurposePumping water
Measurements
Cylinders1
Bore32 inches (81 cm)
Stroke8 feet (244 cm)
Preservation
CollectionBirmingham Museums Trust
LocationThinktank
WorkingYes

Contents

Originally, it was one of two steam engines used to pump water back up to the 491-foot (149.7 m) summit level of the BCN Old Main Line (Birmingham Canal) canal at Smethwick, not far from the Soho Foundry where it was made. The other engine, also built by Boulton and Watt, was at the other end of the summit level at Spon Lane. In 1804 a second Boulton and Watt engine was added alongside the 1779 engine.

The engines were needed because local water sources were insufficient to supply water to operate the six locks either side of the canal's original summit. The locks could have been avoided if a tunnel had been built, but the ground was too unstable for James Brindley to build a tunnel using the techniques available at the time. In the 1780s, a cutting was constructed by John Smeaton, enabling three of the six locks on each side to be removed.

In the 1820s, Thomas Telford constructed a new canal parallel to the old in a deeper cutting, at the 453 ft (138.1 m) Birmingham Level, creating the largest man-made earthworks in the world at the time. It was spanned by the Galton Bridge. The engine was still needed, despite both these developments, and Thomas Telford constructed the Engine Arm Aqueduct carrying the Engine Arm branch canal over his New Main Line so that coal could still be transported along the arm to feed the Smethwick Engine.

New Smethwick Pumping Station

In 1892, a replacement engine was built in a new pumping house, now Grade II listed, next to Brasshouse Lane, as the original Smethwick Engine was considered uneconomic to repair; the latter was removed for preservation in 1897–98 to the BCN, later British Waterways, Ocker Hill depot where it remained until acquired by Birmingham City Council. It is now part of the collection of Birmingham Museums and is on display at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum at Millennium Point. It is the oldest working engine in the world.

Blue plaque at the site of the Smethwick Engine

The engine house was demolished in 1897. Its original site and foundations can still be seen on Bridge Street North in Smethwick, just north of the junction with Rolfe Street. Tours of the site can be arranged through the Galton Valley Canal Heritage Centre which is based in the New Smethwick Pumping Station and regularly opened by Sandwell Museum Service and The Friends of Galton Valley.

The pumping station was featured in an episode of The Water Boatman presented by Alan Herd on the Discovery Shed TV channel in November 2011.

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap
Download coordinates as: KML
  1. "Oldest steam engine". guinnessworldrecords.com. Retrieved19 March 2015.
  2. "Highlights - Thinktank - Birmingham Museums". birminghammuseums.org.uk. Retrieved9 March 2015.
  3. Holland, Julian (1 May 2012). Amazing & Extraordinary Facts Steam Age. David & Charles. pp. 18–. ISBN 9781446356197. Retrieved9 March 2015.
  4. "Promoting engineering in the Midlands". 27 January 2014. Retrieved9 March 2015.
  5. Historic England. "Smethwick New Pumping House (Grade II) (1077154)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved8 March 2015.
  6. Historic England. "New pumping house, Grade II (1077154)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved23 April 2007.
Wikimedia Commons has media related toSmethwick Engine.

Smethwick Engine
Smethwick Engine Language Watch Edit The Smethwick Engine is a Watt steam engine made by Boulton and Watt which was installed near Birmingham England and was brought into service in May 1779 Now at Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum it is the oldest working steam engine 1 2 and the oldest working engine in the world 3 4 Smethwick EngineThe engine in steam at Birmingham s Thinktank museumOriginsTypeWatt beam engineDesignerJames WattMakerBoulton and WattDateMay 1779 1779 05 Country of originEnglandFormer operatorBirmingham Canal NavigationsPurposePumping waterMeasurementsCylinders1Bore32 inches 81 cm Stroke8 feet 244 cm PreservationCollectionBirmingham Museums TrustLocationThinktankWorkingYes Contents 1 History 2 Points of interest 3 See also 4 References 5 External linksHistory EditOriginally it was one of two steam engines used to pump water back up to the 491 foot 149 7 m summit level of the BCN Old Main Line Birmingham Canal canal at Smethwick not far from the Soho Foundry where it was made The other engine also built by Boulton and Watt was at the other end of the summit level at Spon Lane In 1804 a second Boulton and Watt engine was added alongside the 1779 engine The engines were needed because local water sources were insufficient to supply water to operate the six locks either side of the canal s original summit The locks could have been avoided if a tunnel had been built but the ground was too unstable for James Brindley to build a tunnel using the techniques available at the time In the 1780s a cutting was constructed by John Smeaton enabling three of the six locks on each side to be removed The Engine Arm Aqueduct In the 1820s Thomas Telford constructed a new canal parallel to the old in a deeper cutting at the 453 ft 138 1 m Birmingham Level creating the largest man made earthworks in the world at the time It was spanned by the Galton Bridge The engine was still needed despite both these developments and Thomas Telford constructed the Engine Arm Aqueduct carrying the Engine Arm branch canal over his New Main Line so that coal could still be transported along the arm to feed the Smethwick Engine New Smethwick Pumping Station In 1892 a replacement engine was built in a new pumping house now Grade II listed 5 6 next to Brasshouse Lane as the original Smethwick Engine was considered uneconomic to repair the latter was removed for preservation in 1897 98 to the BCN later British Waterways Ocker Hill depot where it remained until acquired by Birmingham City Council It is now part of the collection of Birmingham Museums and is on display at Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum at Millennium Point It is the oldest working engine in the world Blue plaque at the site of the Smethwick Engine The engine house was demolished in 1897 Its original site and foundations can still be seen on Bridge Street North in Smethwick just north of the junction with Rolfe Street Tours of the site can be arranged through the Galton Valley Canal Heritage Centre which is based in the New Smethwick Pumping Station and regularly opened by Sandwell Museum Service and The Friends of Galton Valley The pumping station was featured in an episode of The Water Boatman presented by Alan Herd on the Discovery Shed TV channel in November 2011 Points of interest EditPoint Coordinates Links to map resources OS Grid Ref NotesSmethwick Engine original pumphouse 52 29 52 N 1 57 44 W 52 4977 N 1 9622 W 52 4977 1 9622 Smethwick Engine original pumphouse SP025889 Bridge Street North SmethwickEngine Arm Aqueduct 52 29 52 N 1 57 59 W 52 4979 N 1 9665 W 52 4979 1 9665 Engine Arm Aqueduct SP022889New Smethwick Pumphouse 52 29 53 N 1 58 23 W 52 4981 N 1 9731 W 52 4981 1 9731 New Smethwick Pumphouse SP018889 Brasshouse Lane SmethwickMap all coordinates using OpenStreetMap Download coordinates as KMLSee also Edit United Kingdom portal Transport portal Canals of the United Kingdom History of the British canal system Old Bess beam engine the oldest surviving Watt steam engineReferences Edit Oldest steam engine guinnessworldrecords com Retrieved 19 March 2015 Highlights Thinktank Birmingham Museums birminghammuseums org uk Retrieved 9 March 2015 Holland Julian 1 May 2012 Amazing amp Extraordinary Facts Steam Age David amp Charles pp 18 ISBN 9781446356197 Retrieved 9 March 2015 Promoting engineering in the Midlands 27 January 2014 Retrieved 9 March 2015 Historic England Smethwick New Pumping House Grade II 1077154 National Heritage List for England Retrieved 8 March 2015 Historic England New pumping house Grade II 1077154 National Heritage List for England Retrieved 23 April 2007 Birmingham s Canals Ray Shill 1999 2002 ISBN 0 7509 2077 7External links EditWikimedia Commons has media related to Smethwick Engine Model of the Smethwick Engine The Smethwick Engine at Thinktank Birmingham science museum Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Smethwick Engine amp oldid 1053897604, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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