A HISTORIC engine that is classed as one of the most important inventions of the industrial revolution is to be restored as part of a £500,000 project.

The Newcomen Beam Engine at Elsecar Heritage Centre will be overhauled in a two-year project which will gather stories of the surrounding Elsecar village, looking at the ironworks, collieries, workshops, canal, railway, workers’ cottages, church and steam-mill. Over 300,000 people visit Elsecar each year and this project is expected to boost that figure.

Dr Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund which is paying for the work, said: "The importance of its unique industrial heritage is not as widely understood or as accessible to the public as it could be.

“In addition to saving the Newcomen engine for future generations, it will see greatly improved interpretation at the site and activities for visitors in addition to training and volunteer opportunities for people so they can get involved in protecting this wonderful place.” The engine pumped water out of the Elsecar New Colliery between 1795 and 1923 and is one of the top 10 key industrial sites on EH’s Heritage At Risk Register due to its 'outstanding importance to England's industrial past'. Elsecar was the industrial powerhouse of the Earls Fitzwilliam from nearby Wentworth Woodhouse. Today, ironworks, workshops, a canal, collieries and the Fitzwilliam's family railway station remain around the Newcomen Engine, making this among the most important heritage sites in the world.