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Home > Mines, Quarries & Sites > Bay Lead Mine

Bay (Charles) Lead Mine (United Kingdom)


At Wanlockhead and named after Botany bay in australia. 1789 saw the opening of the pumping/main shaft at Bay Mine. The mine appears to have operated from 1790 to 1919.

This mine is famed for being the site of William Symington's Improved Atmospheric Engine.
William Symington (1764-1831) was a Scottish engineer and inventor, and the builder of the first practical steamboat.
Symington was born in Leadhills, South Lanarkshire, Scotland to a family he described as being "respectable but not wealthy." His father worked as a practical mechanic at the Leadhills mines.
Although his parents intended for him to enter the ministry, he intended to use his good education to make a career as an engineer. So, in 1785, he joined his brother George in his attempts to build a steam engine at Wanlockhead, Dumfriesshire. While there, he impressed the manager of a local mining company, Gilbert Meason, so much that he was sent to the University of Edinburgh in 1786 to spend a few months attending science lectures.
By the time William joined his brother, George had already succeeded in building the second engine using James Watt's design to be built in Scotland.

William Symington quickly saw a way to marry the efficiency of the Watt engine with the simplicity of that devised by Thomas Newcomen. Encouraged by Gilbert Meason, Symington demonstrated the practicality of his idea and his improved atmospheric engine was patented in 1787. When Watt sent someone to make a sketch of how this new engine worked, he discovered that the steam was condensed under a second piston and this was then pushed down when fresh steam entered the cylinder, forcing out the condensate. The power piston worked by the atmospheric pressure acting on the vacuum created by the condensing steam.
After its completion, Symington drew up a prospectus outlining the advantages of his invention, and this was circulated by Meason and his influential friends.
This resulted in the improved engine at Bay Mine in 1789 and Symington becoming known as the inventor of the commercially viable atmospheric pumping engine.

Photos of Bay Lead Mine

Photographs Of Bay
Photographs Of Bay (38 photos)
Last updated August 23rd 2012 by LeeW
Historic Photographs Of Bay
Historic Photographs Of Bay (0 photos)
Last updated February 3rd 2008 by no longer a registered user

Google Earth Map of Bay Lead Mine

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Documents for Bay Lead Mine

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Major Mining Region

Bay Lead Mine belongs to the South West Scotland region.

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