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Weʼre raising £4,000 to erect a memorial to Denis Papin - a 17thC physicist who's inventions led us to the early steam engines.

Salisbury, Royaume-Uni

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Denis Papin was born in France, but spent many years working in London. A contemporary of Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton, he designed scientific apparatus that demonstrated the effects both of vacuum and of steam pressure.

His first major invention was the 'digesteur' (more commonly known today as the pressure cooker) which cooked meat and bones at higher temperatures, in an enclosed vessel under steam pressure. Of great significance was the incorporation of a 'safety valve' to regulate the pressure and thus temperature at which the cooker operated. For this, he was made a member of the Royal Society in 1679.

Later, at the turn of the 18th century, he demonstrated a working steam cylinder and piston to the members of the Royal Society. He boiled a small quantity of water in the cylinder under the piston, so that the steam caused the piston to rise. A weight then attached to the piston (via a cord run over a pulley) could be lifted by the pulling effect of the vacuum under the piston when the steam was allowed to condense. In effect, the world's first functional 'heat engine'.

In reality, for Papin, it was only a laboratory experiment, but shortly afterwards the principle that Papin had demonstrated formed the basic design of Newcomen's Cornish Pumping Engines. Sadly, Papin received little or no credit for his invention at the time, and all trace of him was lost in 1712. He was believed to have died in poverty.

In 2016, however, a record came to light in the London Metropolitan Archives which showed that a 'Denys Papin' had been buried in the Lower Ground cemetery of St Bride's Church in Fleet Street on the 26th of August 1713.

Whilst there are memorials to Papin in France, notably in Chitenay, where he was born, and Blois, where he grew up, there are currently none in England, so we are now raising funds to erect a memorial plaque in St Bride's Church to commemorate the passing of Papin who, by his inventions, inspired the creation of the steam engine which in turn led us to the Industrial Revolution.

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    Page last updated on: 5/1/2018 6:53 PM

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      Martin Clarke

      Martin Clarke

      Salisbury, Royaume-Uni

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