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English military engineer and inventor, best known for his invention of a crude steam engine in 1698.

Savery was born in about 1650 at Shilston in Devon.

The steam engine which Savery patented in 1698 was based on the "digester", a pressure cookker, invented by Denis Papin in 1679. He had been working on the problem of pumping water out of coal mines and his engine consisted of a closed vessel filled with water into which steam was introduced which steam forced the water up and out of the mine. A spray of cold water then condensed the steam and the resulting vacuum sucked water from the mine through a valve in the base of the vessel.

He demonstrated a model of his "fire engine" before King William III and the royal court at Hampton Court and promptly recieved a royal patent in 1698 for fourteen years;

A grant to Thomas Savery of the sole exercise of a new invention by him invented, for raising of water, and occasioning motion to all sorts of mill works, by the important force of fire, which will be of great use for draining mines, serving towns with water, and for the working of all sorts of mills, when they have not the benefit of water nor constant winds; to hold for 14 years; with usual clauses.

Unlike many inventors of the period, Savery was keen to exploit his valuable patent by promoting his engine. He demonstrated it before the Royal Society and, hopefull of sales to the mines of Cornwall produced a pamphlet advertising the engine.

He later collaborated with Thomas Newcomen of Dartmouth in the development of Newcomen's "atmospheric engine" (Newcomen was forced into co-operation with Savery who held the patent for the condensing principle).

Savery also invented an odometer for ships and a system of paddles driven by a capstan for powering a ship in calm weather. He unsuccessfully attempted to sell the latter to the Royal Navy.


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1650Birth of British inventor of the steam engine, Thomas Savery at Shilston in Devon
1698Thomas Savery of Devon patents a crude, but the first prcticable, steam engine
Savery had demonstrated the engine to the Royal Institution in the same year

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