Worcester's Steam Cannon

Worcester's Steam Cannon

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: The explosion of a sealed cannon partially filled with water that had been continually heated for 24 hours over a fire. This was one of the experiments into steam power carried out by Edward Somerset, Marquis of Worcester (1601?-1667) and his associate Caspar Kaltoff, the Dutch gunsmith and engineer. Somerset published in 1663 an account of the wide-ranging experiments in his “Century of Inventions” based on his collaboration with Kaltoff at the Vauxhall Operatory. This was an ordnance establishment in London set up by the Crown to conduct research into armaments, pumps, water works and “perpetual motions”. Though Somerset published a description of a viable steam pump there is little that evidence one was ever constructed, but it is suggested that Thomas Savery knew of this work and it influenced the design of his steam pump patented in1698.

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Keywords: 17th century, armaments, cannon, century of inventions, edward somerset, experiments, explosion, kaltoff, marquis worcester, operatory, ordnance, perpetual motion, pump, research, savery, steam, steam engine, steam power, steam pump, vauxhall, water

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