This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

Pascal’s Principle and Beer


May 9, 1785: Bramah Patents Beer Pump

Joseph Bramah- portrait in oilsOn this day in 1795 Joseph Bramah, a prolific British inventor, patients the beer-pump. Also known as the beer engine, he used the new science of hydraulics to dispense beer by simply pumping the handle which was connected via flexible hose to the keg. Previously the kegs had to be nearby, like in a hot sweaty tavern.380a_1 But with the invention of the beer pump, kegs could be stored beneath the bar in cool earthen basements. Ahh, cool beer! These pumps soon became the most common way of serving beer.

The beer pump was derived from Bramah’s most important invention, the hydraulic press. Bramah together with William George Armstrong were considered pioneers in the field of hydraulic engineering. The hydraulic press depends on Pascal’s Principle; that pressure throughout a closed system is constant. Bramah was granted a patent for his hydraulic press in 1795.

Hydraulic Press

Hydraulic Press

Bramah was a prolific inventor, and obtained 18 patents for his designs between 1778 and 1812. Some of his inventions include:

  • 1778 – Flushing toilet (Pat. No. 1177)


  • 1785 – Beer pump – Beer engines and brewing (Pat. No. 2196)
  • 1785 – Hydrostatical machine and boiler, propelling vessels, carriages, etc. (Pat. No. 1478)
  • 1787 – Bramah Lock (Pat. No. 1478)Patent number wrong? Same as above.


  • 1790 – Rotary engines (with Thomas Dickinson) (Pat. No. 1720)
  • 1793 – Fire engines (Pat. No. 1948)
  • 1796 – First Pumper Fire Truck


  • 1795 – Hydraulic press (Pat. No. 2045)
  • 1798 – Locks (Pat. No. 2232)
  • 1802 – A planing machine for making gun stocks (Pat. No. 2652)
  • 1805 – Improvements to paper manufacture and printing (Pat. No. 2840)
  • 1806 – Printing and numbering of banknotes (Pat. No. 2957)
  •          Improvements to paper manufacture and printing (Pat. No. 2977)
  • 1809 – Pens (Pat. No. 3260) – Carriages (Pat. No. 3270) – Carriages (Pat. No. 3616)


  • 1812 – Public water mains and high-pressure hydraulic mains (Pat. No. 3611)

In 2006 a pub in Barnsley town center was opened named the Joseph Bramah in his memory.

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