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The Steam Engine
James Watt – Improved Newcomen’s steam engine
Early drawing of Newcomen’s steam engine
• The steam engine drastically changed the
world of business and trade.
• The steam engine geographically altered
our world.
Newcomen’s Steam Engine
• Invented originally by
Thomas Newcomen in
• Powered water pumps to
drain water from flooded
areas of mines in England
• Newcomen had no
technical training in the
Technical drawing of Newcomen’s engine
used to drain mineshafts
Watt’s Steam Engine
“In 1763 James Watt was sent a
Newcomen steam engine to repair.
While putting it back into working
order, Watt discovered how he
could make the engine more
efficient. Watt worked on the idea
for several months and eventually
produced a steam engine that
cooled the used steam in a
condenser separate from the main
cylinder.” (James Watt)
Over 500 of Watt’s improved
machines were being used in
textile factories and mineshafts
around England by the year 1800
Working model of a steam engine in use
Steam Engine and Economics
The steam engine powered the Industrial Revolution
“The most important of the changes that brought about the Industrial
Revolution were (1) the invention of machines to do the work of hand
tools; (2) the use of steam, and later of other kinds of power, in place of
the muscles of human beings and of animals; and (3) the adoption of the
factory system.” (Industrial Revolution)
These 3 changes increased the amount of work being done in factories and
bettered the economics of the time period
A factory where James
Watt developed the steam
Steam Engine and Economics
“Like other engines, the steam engine
needed fuel to burn. England had large
deposits of coal to fuel the new steam
engines, making it possible for people
to use more machines and to build
larger factories.” (Industrial
This increase of factories attracted
people to the cities where factories
were located
Many workers were hired who could do
simple tasks in a factory that used
machines. Many factories employed
men, women AND children often for
long hours.
Many people were willing to work in
these conditions because their quality
of life was getting better
• “Living standards rose from 1820
onwards after 70 years of stagnation.
This rise accelerated between 1870
and 1900, when real wages,
consumption and life expectancy all
rose sharply.” (The workshop of a
new society)
Lime Street in Liverpool, England in 1877 at height of
Industrial Revolution
Steam Engine and Economics
• Economic Problems
Luddites breaking machinery in protest
– Many people opposed new
technology like the steam
engine and the factory system
– These people were called
Luddites and they were afraid
of losing their jobs to these
new machines
– “Factories disrupted family
life. Women and children
could easily operate the new
steam-driven machines. They
were paid lower wages than
men, so the textile factories
ceased to employ men.”
Steam Engine and Geography
• The steam engine is
applied to the world
of transportation
(Steam Locomotives
and Steamboats)
which instantly
allows the world to
be more accessible
for people and goods
Railroads and Steamships (Visual)
Steam Engine and Geography
Railroads open up countries to travel and business, for example:
– “The completion in 1905 of the Canadian Pacific Railway opened up the country's western prairie
provinces to international trade.” (transportation revolution )
– “The United States was a large country with relatively few roads or canals, so Americans
enthusiastically adopted the railroad. By 1870, the United States had 53,000 miles of railroads.”
(transportation revolution )
– “Railroads helped to open up areas like the Great Plains of the United States and Canada, the pampas
(plains) of Argentina, and parts of northern Mexico for agricultural development. By the late 19th
century, those regions were producing grains and livestock for export. In other regions, railroads
encouraged mining industries.” (transportation revolution )
These examples show that the steam engine (applied to a mode of land transportation like the
locomotive) was the source of what many call the opening of continents around the world
Also, railroads moved people from one location to another affecting where people were located on the
– “Railroads moved people. As they helped to bring immigrants from their homes to the ports in their
country of origin, railroads played a key role in immigration to the Western Hemisphere. In fact, the
earliest wave of immigrants to North America came from England, Ireland, and Germany—countries that
had good rail transportation. As railroads spread to eastern and southern Europe, more and more
immigrants arrived from countries like Italy and Russia. Once immigrants had arrived, railroads then
helped to move them into the interior of their new country. For example, early immigrants to the
United States tended to stay along the East Coast. Later, railroads took them to the central and western
parts of the country.” (transportation revolution )
Steam Engine and Geography
• Steamships open up the world by way of the ocean and rivers:
– Robert Fulton invents the steamboat in 1807
– Connects river ports among the major rivers in the Eastern United
States in the 1800s
– Steam liners that cross the ocean come later in the 1800s and
drastically cuts time between continents, especially North America
and Europe
– “For example, travel time from Liverpool to Cape Town, South
Africa fell from three months to three weeks.” (transportation
– The Suez Canal (a canal built in Egypt and cut into the land) was
made in 1869 to accommodate steam engine liners traveling from
Europe to Asia
Steam Locomotive and Steam Ship
A replica of the first steam locomotive
Robert Fulton’s steamboat the Clermont
• The steam engine was an invention that was
applied to a myriad of other ideas (Trains,
Steamboats, Factories, Mining, etc…).
• The steam engine was a positive change for the
business world. It helped to further the factory
system and get more middle class people working
than ever before.
• The steam engine also opened up the world to
people from every continent. The locomotive
and the steamship were used to transport both
people and goods and make the world a smaller
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2005. eLibrary. Web. 07 Jan. 2013.
"Industrial Revolution." Compton's by Britannica, v 6.0. 2009. eLibrary. Web. 07
Jan. 2013.
"Industrial Revolution." Earth Explorer. 1995. eLibrary. Web. 07 Jan. 2013.
James Watt: Brief Profile. eLibrary. Web. 07 Jan. 2013.
"Railroads and Steamships (Visual)." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO,
2013. Web. 7 Jan. 2013.
"transportation revolution." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2013. Web. 7
Jan. 2013.
"The workshop of a new society: 1670-1850." Economist. 31 Dec. 1999 eLibrary.
Web. 07 Jan. 2013.