In past episodes, I've outlined how people used Britain's abundant and accessible coal resources to do a lot of things: heat their homes, bake bread, make beer, glass, soap, salt and finally to make iron. But all of these things use coal just as a cheap source of heat. Today we use fossil fuels to do so much more. They move us, they light our homes, they fertilize our earth, and they likely provide the electricity that is used to make these words appear on the screen, and my voice appear in your earbuds. To tell the story of how people used coal to move things, this episode will look at the development of the steam engine.
Here are some videos to get a sense of what the steam engine actually is about:
Nick Von Tunzelmann, Steam Power and British Industrialization to 1860
Allen and Rolt, THE STEAM ENGINE OF THOMAS NEWCOMEN
Richard Hills, Power from Steam: A History of the Stationary Steam Engine