Vincent Skinner
Skinner and Board
Heating Contractors

The origins of the firm date back to the 1850's when Vincent Skinner (1832 - 1893) who was born in Southwark London moved to Bristol. He established his business in 1858 as an Engineer and Horticultural Builder with premises in 11 Bridewell Street. In 1861 he was employing 5 men and 1 boy manufacturing and erecting horticultural buildings. By 1971 the business was prospering, and his manufactory had moved to 106 Stokes Croft. The workforce had by then increased to 20 men.

One of his prestigious contracts was the installation in 1874 of the heating system in the large Parish Church of St Mary Redcliff Bristol. This installation is referred to in The Builder magazine of May 22nd 1875. Sections of the original heating system in the church are still operational and in use today.

Skinner also received a large number of unsolicited testimonials such as the following one regarding the restoration of St Philip & Jacob Church in Bristol.
An excerpt from the article which appeared in the Bristol Times and Mirror of 18th December 1876 says,

“Another great improvement is the provision of the warming apparatus. Formerly the church was cold and damp,
now it is
made quite warm and comfortable. The heating is effected by means of the warm water apparatus
manufactured by
Mr Skinner of Bristol and it is a capital invention. It is simple in construction, easily regulated,
and thoroughly warms
and dries the building”.

But alas all the original heating system has now been removed and replaced.

Henry Board who had a similar type of firm in Worcester joined Vincent Skinner as a director and the new firm Skinner and Board was established in 1884. With an increasing order book the firm carried out the erection of numerous horticultural buildings and heating systems throughout the south of England, Wales and Ireland.

(Henry C Board (1846 - 1932) although born in Bristol lived for some time with his family in the West Midlands and is noted in 1881 living in Sidbury Street Worcester. He is in business as an Engineer and Builder employing 8 men).

The primary side of the business continued to be the manufacture and erection of Horticultural buildings such as Plant Houses, Vineries, Conservatories and Plant Protectors each complete with its heating system. A Patent application was granted to Henry Board for the "Venetian" Orchard Fruit and Flower House. The manufactory and ironfoundry was located at 106 Stokes Croft Bristol.

They were strong advocates of heating by hot water and soon expanded the business to install heating systems in buildings. A great number of these were in the south and west of England which included Churches, Chapels, Schools, Commercial premises and Stately Houses. The ironfoundry manufactured tubular water boilers of both the vertical and saddle (the Worcester) design, also ornamental heating coils of both vertical and horizontal pattern. Ornamental pedestal enclosures could be fitted to the heating coils where necessary.  

The boiler being the chief part of an apparatus demands special attention, a bad boiler is a constant source of annoyance and expense.
Hundreds of varieties have been made, but the
Upright Tubular Boiler & Saddle Boiler are now almost universally acknowledged
to be the most powerful, economical and durable.

Following the death in 1893 of Vincent Skinner aged 61 the senior partner, the firm removed the business in January 1894 to more extensive and central premises in Rupert Street Bristol. Records show that the firm also split in 1894 into two separate firms.

Skinner Board & Co,  Rupert Street  Bristol

A H Skinner & Co,  106 Stokes Croft  Bristol

Henry's son Frederick and his cousin Robert J Board joined the firm of Skinner Board & Co which continued operations from the premises in Rupert Street Bristol working mainly as Horticultural builders who manufactured and erected their own Greenhouses complete with heating systems and carried on this business up until the early 1970's.

Skinner Board & Co joined the HVCA in 1917 and became a limited company in 1947. Robert's sons Kenneth and Donald joined the firm in the 1920's. In the inter-war years they moved premises to Exmoor Street, Bedminster Bristol with their main activity now becoming heating, ventilating and air conditioning of buildings. They have been contractors to Bristol Education Committee, Port of Bristol Authority, Local County Councils and the War Office. A church heating system installed in 1892 for the sum of £72 is still in operation today.

The company moved premises again during the 1990's to Sussex Street in St Philips Bristol. it was still trading in 2003 but has now been wound up and ceased trading. 

Many of the original heating pipework systems and heaters can still be seen in churches today, although sadly none of their boilers appear to have survived. This is in part due to them having to be built into brickwork and unable to be converted to gas or oil firing.


Selection of Vertical Pipe Coil Heaters

Large Half Hexagon

Small Half Hexagon

Large Hexagon

Large Octagonal

Selection of various style box ended pipe coil heaters

The Skinner Board trademark on their pipe coil heaters are the box ends with rounded top corners and the Gothic shape

April  2016