It was back in 1758 when James Watt a Scottish inventor first opened up shop at the University of Glasgow and brought forth the advancements in science that were much needed to spark the start of the English Industrial Revolution. Although not the first to invent a steam powered engine, his advancements and improvements to low-pressure steam engines led way to the steam powered locomotives and steamships used to transport the UK into the Industrialised Age.
While at first his intentions were not for the advancement of the steam engine, a good friend of his, Professor John Robinson got him interested in experimenting with the steam engine only 4 years after opening up his shop. His research led to the discovery of the concept of latent heat in association with a working steam engine. The university itself had a broken Newcomen steam engine and to further his research into the engineering aspects of the motor, he repaired it himself by 1763.
While Thomas Newcomen did make the first steam engine in 1705, it was thanks to the advancements discovered by Watts that led the engine to be the most popular choice in English steamships and locomotives. By 1774 Michael Boulton and Watt partnered up to start a production plant of the new rotary style steam engine. By 1824, they had managed to produce more than 1,100 steam engines which the biggest produced an impressive 26,000 horsepower.
During these years in or around 1770, the experimentation of the Watt steam engine for the use of power for a boat began. These experiments occurred in England, Scotland as well as the United States simultaneously and was first realised when the Robert Fulton Clermont which was powered by a Watt Steam Engine made its way up the Hudson River. By 1811 the Scottish Comet made its way between Glasgow and a port 25 miles away.
Steamships were obviously more expensive to build and maintain as well as the size of the engine itself took up a lot of cargo space. However, the Industrial revolution could not have started on sailing ships alone and by the mid 1800’s steamships crossing the Atlantic Ocean were not an uncommon site to see.
This came due in part thanks to Sir Samuel Cunard, who back in 1839 managed to secure a contract with the British Government to carry mail and other packages between the ports of Halifax, Liverpool and even Boston. His ships use propellers rather than paddle wheels and were considered to be far cheaper to build as well as being lighter and more space efficient.
As all of this advancement occurred, the UK went through its Industrial Revolution and also started the mass-exodus from Europe to the New World and the rest one can say is “History”.
Original Authors: Nick (Globel Team)
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 23/07/2008