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Science & Innovation

For British Science Week 2019, we are looking back at how Great Britain has shaped different scientific fields through its research and innovation. British scientists, engineers and inventors have played a significant role in developing engines and the automotive industry that stemmed from them.

steam train gif

Originally posted by suffocating-in-the-void

Steam power

Before the internal combustion engine, steam power was revolutionary in progressing industry in Britain. 

The first practical steam engine was designed by English inventor Thomas Newcomen in 1712 and was later adapted by Scotsman James Watt in 1765. Watt’s steam engine was the first to make use of steam at an above atmospheric pressure.

The Steam Engine - How Does It Work? Video: Real Engineering  

In 1804, the first locomotive-hauled railway journey was made by a steam locomotive design by Richard Trevithick, an inventor and mining engineer from Cornwall, UK. 

After this, steam trains took off and the steam engine was used in many ways such as powering the SS Great Britain, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and launched in 1843.

 SS Great Britain
The SS Great Britain in Bristol, UK, today.

Engines at the ready

The conception and refinement of the internal combustion engine involved many inventors from around the world, including British ones. 

The automobile, using the internal combustion engine, was been invented in the United States, and Britain picked up on this emerging industry very quickly. These brands are among the most famous and abundant cars on the road today; Aston Martin, Mini, Jaguar, Land Rover and Rolls Royce may come to mind.  

 car engine

By the 1950s, the UK was the second-largest manufacturer of cars in the world (after the United States) and the largest exporter.

In 1930, the jet engine was patented by Sr Frank Whittle. He was an aviation engineer and pilot who started his career as an apprentice in the Royal Air Force (RAF). The jet engine became critical after the outbreak of World War II.

raf jet

Originally posted by aviationgifs

Great Britain are still major players in the aviation industry, and engineering innovations continue to be a major part of the British economy. British inventors have gone on to invent the hovercraft, hundreds of different jet designs and a variety of military vehicles.