Parsons' steam turbine generator, 1884

1884 in Newcastle upon Tyne
Clarke, Chapman, Parsons and Company
Parsons' original Steam Turbine generator with spare guide ring and fan 1884.

Buy this image as a print 


License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library


Parsons' original Steam Turbine generator with spare guide ring and fan 1884.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Parsons' original Steam Turbine generator, with spare guide ring and fan, by Clarke, Chapman, Parsons & Co.,1884

This machine is the forerunner of the turbo-generators that today provide most of the world's electricity. It is the first experimental prototype produced by Charles Parsons, who promoted the turbine as a smaller and more efficient alternative to the steam reciprocating engine. In the turbine, the expanding steam works continuously as it passes through many turbine stages. This gives far higher efficiency than was possible with the steam engine. The turbine combines freedom from vibration with high speed (in this case, 18,000 revolutions per minute) suited to electrical generators. The turbine was also employed in marine propulsion. In 1894 Parsons launched his first turbine-powered boat, the SS Turbinia, which reached previously-unattainable speeds of up to 34 knots.


Motive Power
Object Number:
brass (copper, zinc alloy), cast iron, copper (metal), gunmetal and steel (metal)
overall: 800 x 400 x 1730 mm (approximate)
Siemens plc; Parsons, C.A. and Co. Ltd.