Cornish Engine Database Now Available Online – and the Public Can Add to It

The ruins of the Cornish Engine House and ancillary buildings at Magpie Mine, Derbyshire

In June 2020 the Association for Industrial Archaeology made available a searchable database of Cornish Engines in the UK, Europe and around the globe. This is based upon the work of Ken Brown (in the UK) and Jan Verbruggen (in the Netherlands) and their research in the late 20th and early 21st century into Cornish Engines, their sites and manufacturers. Their original project brought 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.

Their database covered 1,656 Engines, 102 Engineers, 58 Foundries, 2,308 Sites and 1,821 cross-reference records linking the Engines to the Sites where they worked across the globe. Sadly Ken and Jan are no longer with us but Jan’s son was eager to preserve the database and to make the data available to researchers today. Having approached the AIA, the Associated tasked their webmaster with the challenge of transferring the data into a modern database system and also to create a web user interface which would provide facilities to search and display the data. The refreshed database went live on the 30th June 2020.

There are many excellent sources of information about Engines, Sites, Engineers, Foundries etc. to be found on the internet but probably none which put together the data about Cornish Engines to give such an in-depth presentation. The new database was always seen as being interactive and the AIA is seeking fresh material to augment and add to the data set.

Already the information in the database has been expanded. For example, in the original data set the Foundry entries had no associated geographical data. Working together with Michael Messenger the AIA Webmaster Bill Barksfield has added this information for many of the Foundry entries, is continuing to complete this task and is also adding links to more contemporary sources of data now available on line. Links to information about the Sites are also being added.

Members of the public can suggest new sites and images to be added to the existing database, either through the comments section of the AIA webpages ( or by contacting the AIA Webmaster directly on:

The database can be viewed and searched here:

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