Cornish Engine Database

Compiled by Ken Brown & Jan Verbruggen

The authors of this database, K.M. Brown and J.A. Verbruggen (KMB and JAV), aimed to bring together data on all non-rotative pumping engines working on the Cornish cycle, that were ever made, with data on all the sites where they worked. The documents, notes, and other data collected by KMB constitute the basis for the content of the database. JAV put the data into a database system which worked on DOS machines. At the time it was thought that rotative engines (whims, stamps etc.) would require a different format, and were therefore excluded from the database. (The present webmaster considers those technical issues to be minor - the major problem would be collecting the data)

The data for each engine and site are, inevitably, brief and cannot encompass all details. They are heavily referenced, however. There exist other attempts at comprehensive surveys of mining in Cornwall, notably by Dines, Collins, Hamilton Jenkin, Burt, and (unpublished) Brooke. These concentrate mainly on social, economic and company structure aspects; this database is principally about engines - though for Cornwall the list of mine sites tries to be comprehensive, extending to sites which never had steam pumping. The heaviest concentration of data is of course in Cornwall but extends, to a limited extent, worldwide.

Ken Brown and Jan Verbruggen are sadly no longer with us. However it was their stated intention to put this information into the public domain – an intention re-iterated by Jan’s son in 2020.

This implementation uses the data as it was at the end of 2001 but now loaded into a modern database engine suitable for access via this website. The database has entries for 1,656 Engines, 102 Engineers, 58 Foundries, 2,308 Sites and 1,821 cross-reference records for Engines working at Sites.

The present implementation can display the data in lists with user defined filters to reduce the volume of data and has added a map feature showing the Sites and the Foundries on a map (where geographic data exists). Each map pointer is a link to a detail panel or list related to that Site/Foundry. The world of online data has moved on very considerably since 2001 and useful information about these items can also be found elsewhere. Efforts have now been made also to link some records in this database to other, internet, sources ( is particularly good). This was necessary for the Foundry records in order to find their geographic location for the mapping feature and adds greatly to their usefulness. It is hoped that external links can be added to the Site information over time too.

The main use envisaged for this data was to facilitate further study of the history of the Cornish pumping engine and the AIA is happy to continue that endeavour in memory of these two men who did so much work to bring it all together.

If you notice any errors or wish to propose additions please contact the webmaster:

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