The History of Steam Power

It was steam that created the opportunities for the Industrial Revolution to accelerate changes in manufacture, and technology.

Today we see the rapid evolution of electronics, communications and aviation to name just a few of the major influences on the way we live.

But even these rely on STEAM POWER.

Steam is the main power source of electricity in the world. Steam is essentially water overheated in a vessel to create a pressure in the steam that gives it the properties it needs to do useful work.

Steam generation is fuelled by various forms of energy:

  • coal and oil in huge power stations,
  • geo-thermal power stations which take the steam from water turned to steam by underground “hot rock” systems
  • “nuclear” power stations which use uranium as a source of heat to create steam, and even
  • solar devices that concentrate the suns rays to heat the water and create steam.

The next page provides a BRIEF history of the main steps in the evolution of steam power, and another set of pages lists links to several websites (Australian and British) of museums which have historical steam machinery as their main exhibits. If you have any feelings for knowing our history and what made the world what it is today, you can get lost for hours looking through these websites.