The High Pressure Steam Engine - Not Invented By James Watt

by Eric Hartwell - Date: 2007-02-05 - Word Count: 310 Share This!

Richard Trevithick was born at Redruth in Cornwall on the 13th April 1771, the fifth child and only son of the manager of the Wheal Chance copper mine near Cambourne. Richard attended the local village school but more often than not he played truant, due to his poor attendance at school his head master said he was disobedient, inattentive and a time waster.

I suppose his school report would have read something to the effect of, "could try harder". His father did not think highly of his only son and referred to him as a loafer. Richard was more interested in the mechanical engines that were used in the mines that surrounded Redruth, than in his schooling.

He spent a lot of his younger days wandering from mine to mine looking at how they worked; this is how he stared to get interested in the mechanical workings of the mines.

Richards other asset was, bare-knuckle fighting - this allowed him to earn some money and follow his interest in anything mechanical. Trevithick's father seeing that his son was interested in machinery and anything mechanical obtained an apprenticeship with William Murdock, who worked for James Watt. At this time William Murdock managed the factory that built pumping engines for Cornwall and this is where it is believed he learnt his skills.

Richard's dream was to design an engine that worked on high-pressure steam; James Watt had always refused to use high-pressure steam because of the dangers of boilers exploding. In the early 1800's Richard overcame the engineering difficulties and developed the high pressure steam engine using compression to drive the engine. Watt was still convinced that Trevithick's high-pressure steam engine posed a serious problem of explosions and was left behind for a time in the industrial revolution. To those who do not know it was Richard Trevithick and not James Watt who invented high-pressure steam engine.

Related Tags: history, inventions, steam, inventor, james watt, steam engine

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