IEEC3 – Conference March, 2024

IEEC3 Conference Details

Building on the success of our previous conferences, we are delighted to confirm our third international Early Engines Conference event (IEEC3).

Farme Colliery engine


Ensuring Scottish contributions to early engine developments are recognised and celebrated.

IEEC3 Conference theme


The event will run from noon Friday 22nd until noon on Sunday 24th March 2024. The conference will be hosted at the Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life, in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire.

Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life

Heritage Way,

Pre- and post-conference trips Thursday 2st and Monday 25th March 2024

Visits to surviving Newcomen engine and other industrial history sites are being arranged on Thursday 21st and Monday 25th March 2024, at separate cost. For a preview of the sites, and what to expect, see our blog on the recce for the trips in November 2023.


Please see Supplementary Trip information to before deciding and applying to join.


We are determined that the culture of the event will be friendly, inclusive, co-operative, and non-elitist. If you haven’t attended previously, we will ensure you feel welcomed and included. The format will be similar to IEEC1 (2017) and IEEC2 (2021), to include publication (at no extra charge) of the Conference Transactions.


Because we do not have an external “soiree” on the Friday evening (our event will be inside the Museum around their Grant Ritchie Steam Winder) our ticket prices will be lower than previous events. We hope this encourages those residing south of the border to make the journey to Scotland. As you would expect, the programme shows a focus on early engines and engine builders in Scotland.

  • Full Ticket £95,
  • Day Tickets £35, £50 and £20
  • Pre-and post-Conference Trips on Thurs 21st and Monday 25th March charged separately, as noted above.


[Draft] Last updated 19/2/24

Conference Day 1 – Friday 22nd March 2024

10.30 OnwardsRegistration, familiarisation with the venue and meeting fellow delegates.
11.00Refreshments available
12.00Buffet Lunch
12.45Welcome and Opening of the Conference – Heather Liddle (Active & Creative Communities Manager, North Lanarkshire Council)
12.55Agenda, Logistics and Housekeeping – Steve Grudgings (IEEC)
13.00 – 13.40Justin Parkes, History of the Farme Colliery Engine
– This paper lays out the history and operational context for this unusual winding engine serving Farme Colliery from 1810 to 1916. The paper also describes how it was saved from the scrapman and moved to Summerlee and the challenges therein. This will be followed by a short paper from Mike Potts on issues concerning the engines design, specifically its manual operation We hope some parts of the engine will be accessible to delegates during the conference.
13.40-14.10Ellie Swinbank, History of the Caprington Colliery Engine
– The senior curator of technology at National Museums Scotland (NMS), presents the work of Geoff Hayes, whose engineering expertise was essential to the reconstruction of this engine in its current location at NMS. This paper describes what is known of its working life, its preservation, and its current interpretation.
14.10-14.40John Townley, The World’s First Steam Mills (1779-1783): The customers of Wasbrough and Pickard and their mills
– Matthew Wasbrough of Bristol erected his first steam mill in 1779 and by his death in October 1781 had erected at least four others in Bristol and the Midlands. Although not a great mechanical success, his partnership with James Pickard of Birmingham meant these engines would be retro-fitted with Pickard’s crank & flywheel and some continued working well into the nineteenth century. This paper focuses on the entrepreneurial character of their customers and the role these early engines served.
Mike Potts, The Atmospheric engine. Loading and Balancing
– This paper explores the practical issues relating to loading and balancing early engines encountered by their owners and operators and the solutions bought to bear. The differing challenges presented by Pumping and Rotative engines will be described and discussed.
15.20- 15.35 REFRESHMENTS
15.35-16.05Steve Dewhirst, Early Engines in the Ironbridge Gorge
– The shallow mines south of the River Severn were largely self-draining, so it wasn’t until the 1750s that steam engines were introduced for use in the booming iron industry. Steve Dewhirsts full paper examines the engines in these works and the introduction of small winding engines in the late 1700s in the associated coal and ironstone mines. It will also briefly look at engines built by these works in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and some technical oddities.
16.05-16.35Mike Nevell, Eighteenth century engines in the Ironbridge works
– This paper describes the findings from the largely unpublished excavations of several late 18th century pumping engines around the gorge. This will include the site of the Heslop engine at Blists Hill and is intended to provide a more complete picture of all the engines in this the cradle of the Industrial Revolution.
16.35- 17.10Richard Matthews, Two enigmatic engine sites in East Lancashire
– This double paper describes the findings of his field and desk research concerning the engine house remains at Foxclough Colliery near Colne. This will conclude with a brief account of the surviving Newcomen Engine House at Great Harwood.
17.10-17.40Donald Adamson and Robert Yates, Pre Steam Engines at Culross in the Early Seventeenth Century
– This paper sets out the finding of their field and desk research into Sir George Bruce’s “coal mine under the sea” and its innovative drainage technologies. These include the famous “coal pit under the sea” and the “Egyptian wheel”.
18.30Tour of Museum and cash bar around the 1926 Murray and Patterson (of Coatbridge) Steam Colliery Winding Engine
19.00Hot Buffet
20.15Last Orders
20.45Closure and Delegates Depart

Conference Day 2 – Saturday 23rd March 2024

8.30Venue open and refreshments available
Welcome, recap day 1 and review agenda for day 2
9.05-9.35John Barnatt, Early Engines in North-East Derbyshire
– John Barnatt’s recent desk and field research cataloguing coal working in North East Derbyshire has identified many previously unrecorded early engines. This full paper lists their locations, operating periods and records of local engine building as well as correcting misinterpretations in other accounts. Paper to be read by Steve Grudgings.
9.35-10.05John Kanefsky, Engine building in Scotland after 1760 and the contribution of the Carron Company
– This paper examines the factors enabling the Carron Iron Company to make significant contributions to engine building in the second half of the eighteenth century, and highlights some previously unrecognised engines and sites.
10.05-10.30Richard Lamb, Building a Working Model of the Hawkesbury Junction Newcomen Engine, at one-sixth scale
– This short paper sets out why this engine was selected for modelling and describes practical aspects of the design and fabrication processes. The paper also sets out insights the project provided concerning the issues encountered during Newcomen and Calley’s experiments and subsequent developments. An analysis of steam loss in relation to cylinder proportions will also be laid out for a range of engine sizes.
10.30- 11.00Mike Potts, Henry Beighton’s Fire Engine Documents
– This paper describes the insights and discoveries resulting from his analysis of Beighton’s documents and how this provides a new understanding of his work in this formative phase of engine development
11.20- 11.50Bill Whitehead, The 1786 Boulton & Watt Engine at John Steins Kennetpans Distillery – a confused story
– This paper will describe how, whilst keen to be the first distillery powered by steam, Stein kept changing his mind over the size of the engine required. Stein was fortunate that an engine was available originally built for an American living at the time in London. We plan to visit the Kennetpans site on Monday.
11.50- 12.10Steve Grudgings & Ian Castledine, James Twyford – Somerset’s answer to Agricola?
– This short paper is intended as a primer for a more comprehensive programme examining the work of this little-known polymath and chronicler of pre-steam engines.
12.10- 12.30Peter King, Joseph Hateley – Engineer of Bo’ness, Bristol and elsewhere
– This short paper by describes what is known of the Engineer and Patentee who worked with Watt.
13.30- 14.00David Hardwick, Early Scottish Engines
– This paper describes a range of previously unknown or inaccurately reported early engines across Scotland. This is work in progress, concerned with correcting the record, and ensuring the numbers and importance of early engines in Scotland are better understood.
14.00- 14.30Mike Potts, An Overview of the History of the Heslop Engine
– Together with Hornblower and Thompson, Heslop designed and oversaw erection of a number of successful compound atmospheric engines, many of which were installed in his home area of Cumbria. This paper describes the background to the man, his engines and their modus operandi.
14.30-15.00Kelvin Lake, Excavating the Pitchcroft Limestone Mine winding and pumping
engine sites in Shropshire

– This paper will lay out Shropshire Caving and Mining Club’s work in excavating and interpreting the sites of two engines at Pitchcroft. The winding engine site is believed to have housed a Heslop style engine, while the nearby pumping engine site housed a much larger engine.
15.20- 15.50Anton Howes, Precursors to Savery
– This paper will describe engines that exploited atmospheric pressure before Torricelli, including new evidence of William Petty’s and Kaspar Kalthoff’s experiments in the 1630s and 40s.
15.50- 16.20Peter Konečný, The first Boulton and Watt Engines in Central Europe
– This paper examines the introduction of B&W Engines in Central Europe, describing the contexts for their installations and the challenges faced by the men erecting them.
16.20-16.50James Greener, Early engines in Europe, their builders and challenges – This paper will describe the spread of early engines across Europe, telling the story of the men that did this and the challenges they faced.
16.50-17.20John Crompton, William Sandeman’s Boulton & Watt Engine for Douglasfield Bleach Works, Dundee – This full paper draws on the Boulton & Watt Archives to chart the making and building of the engine, and examines the alterations made during its working life and in preservation.
17.20Venue Closes & Delegates Depart

Conference Day 3 – Sunday 24th March 2024

08.30Venue open and refreshments available
09.00Welcome, recap day 2 and review agenda for day 3
9.05-9.35Mike Potts, The Newcomen Engine in 2020
– This paper describes new materials relating to early engines that have emerged since 2020. These include paintings and drawings, clock and watch faces and photographs, hopefully encouraging us all that there is still new (to us) material out there.
9.35-9.55Mike Potts, The Polzunov Blowing Engine (Russia)
– This short paper describes what little is known about the world’s first twin-cylinder blowing engine, built for the Pulzunov ironworks in the Ural Mountains in 1766. The engine never worked, but a model of it survives.
9.55- 10.25Mark Watson, Boulton and Watt Engine Houses in Scotland
– This paper describes and locates the rotative engines supplied to Scotland by Boulton and Watt, and Fenton Murray and Wood. Seven engine houses or parts thereof are understood to still exist and offer archaeological potential in their walls and foundations.
10.25- 10.45Mike Potts, The site of the first Newcomen Engine in the West Midlands
– This short paper examines the various different theories concerning the location of Newcomen’s first engine in the West Midland and makes a case for which of these is correct.
10.45- 11.00REFRESHMENTS
11.00- 11.30James Greener, Summary of work so far & open questions concerning the invention of Newcomen’s engine
– This paper examines the areas still requiring resolution relating to the work of Newcomen and those that followed him, and suggests some potential lines of enquiry.
11.30-12.00Peter King, New conclusions regarding Engines around Brierley Hill
– This paper sets out new discoveries relating to engines around Brettell Lane, Brierley Hill.
12.30Closing Address and Conference End
13.00Venue Closes and Delegates Depart


IEEC is sponsored by The Association for Industrial Archaeology, The Northern Mine Research Society, The International Stationary Steam Engine Society and The South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group

Association for Industrial Archaeology logo (AIA logo)
Association for Industrial Archaeology
Northern Mine Research Society (NMRS)
The Northern Mine Research Society (NMRS)
South Gloucestershire Mines Research Society
International Stationary Steam Engine Society