One of the jewels in Thinktank’s collection is the Smethwick Engine, the oldest working steam engine in the world. It was the first engine in the world to use both the expansive force of steam and a vacuum at the same time.

Designed by the firm of Boulton & Watt and installed almost 240 years ago on the Birmingham-Wolverhampton canal in 1779. It saved water by pumping it back up a series of canal locks at Smethwick. The engine lifted the equivalent of 1,500 buckets of water each minute and refilled the canal at the top of the locks, so that 250 boats could pass through the locks every week. Boulton & Watt’s engines marked the start of the Industrial Revolution. For the first time in history, production became independent of water, wind, animal and human power as its source of energy. Engineering had opened up new era.

The Smethwick Engine has recently undergone an extensive restoration project and on the 3rd and 4th November we will be steaming the engine for the first time in over 3 years. Join us this weekend and see the power of the engine first hand, find out about the fascinating story of its use and impact on the region and take part in hands on steam power activities.

We will be steaming the engine three times each day at: 11:30am, 1:00pm and 2:30pm.

All events and activities will be free for Thinktank ticket holders.