Icons of England
  • Introduction
  • The Icons
  • Nominations
  • News
  • Learn & Play
  • Your Comments

Steam Engines

1069 of 1157 nominations


Steam Engines

Is this an icon?


Steam Engines

Harnessing the power of steam put Britain at the edge of technological development in the eighteenth century. Steam engines powered mechanisms in trains, boats and factories. They were the driving force behind the Industrial Revolution and changed the world forever. Raw materials, products and people could now travel faster, greater weights could be moved, mechanical processes were speeded up, mines could be dug deeper (as they could now be drained more efficiently) to produce more coal – and manufacturing experienced a boom. Factories of a size previously unimaginable sprang up near to the coalfields that powered them, and new towns grew around them. The North of England and the Midlands therefore became the focus of manufacturing activity. Workers discovered a totally changed way of life, crowded into cities, with no gardens and dependent on wages for everything. Life became noisier, grimier and faster paced. The men who developed the steam engine: Thomas Savery then Thomas Newcomen and finally James Watt, are the founders of the modern world.

Image: Topfoto.co.uk


Your comments

Steam engines, along with London buses, post boxes, telephone boxes and the traditional pub, seem to me quintessentially English. Steam engines were first patented in 1698 by Thomas Savery, who was an English military engineer.

Tom Harold

Steam railways, one of my favorite things in England! I have to ride several lines when I am there. The trains ahve such unique qualities!
Andy Sibbald

Heronas a Greek mathematician invented the first steam engine in the first century BC.

View All Comments (6)



I nominate the red pillar box.

Donna Spencer