Feb 24

Birthday of Thomas Newcomen

Thomas Newcomen Combustion Engine
Show More
Newcomen Engine
1780 Newcomen engine being used in a coal mine
Show More

"[In 18th-century Britain] engineers for the most began as simple workmen, skilful and ambitious but usually illiterate and self-taught. They were either millwrights like Bramah, mechanics like Murdoch and George Stephenson, or smiths like Newcomen and Maudslay."

~ John Desmond Bernal, In Science in History (1969)

Thomas Newcomen was an English inventor who created the first practical steam engine. An ironmonger by trade, some of his biggest customers were Cornish tin mine owners, who faced considerable difficulties with flooding as mines became progressively deeper. The standard methods to remove the water - manual pumping or teams of horses hauling buckets on a rope - were slow and expensive, and they sought an alternative. His first working engine was installed at a coalmine at Dudley Castle in Staffordshire in 1712. Newcomen engines were very expensive but were nevertheless very successful. By the time Newcomen died on 5 August 1729 there were at least one hundred of his engines in Britain and across Europe.

This tartan was designed to commemorate the invention of the steam engine by Thomas Newcomen in 1712 and to mark the importance of the combustion engine  in the last three centuries.  

Thomas Newcomen (February 1664 – 5 August 1729) was an English inventor who created the first practical steam engine for pumping water.  An ironmonger by trade and a Baptist lay preacher by calling, he sought to solve the problem of pumping water out from the lower levels of coal and tin mines.


From the official register:

Colours: black recalls the iron from which the engines and boilers are made as well as the coal and oil that they burn, its dominance in the tartan gives a dark industrial appearance; red represents fire; white represents steam and smoke; and blue represents the air (oxygen) required for combustion as well as water.  


For more on the history of steam engines, click the painting of a Newcomen engine being used in a coal mine (1780).

Officially registered tartan graphics on this site courtesy of The Scottish Tartans Authority.  Other tartans from talented tartan artists may also be featured.

  • Facebook - Grey Circle
  • YouTube - Grey Circle

This site is featured on:​   boredalot.com   &   pointlesssites.com

9 out of 10 kilt wearers agree - this is almost as thrilling as a good

tartaned kilt flip when going regimental! 

In a tartan mood? Tag along on social media