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Historic Tubular Boilers

When any historical heating system is refurbished and updated, the first and most likely item of equipment to be removed, replaced and then usually destroyed is the boiler. It is therefore, a very rare occasion for the Heritage Group to find or alternatively, be informed about an early example of a Victorian tubular boiler. To date only three examples of vertical tubular boilers have been discovered and photographed.

Three different patterns of the upright
boiler as displayed in catalogues.


When ground works excavations were being
carried out for the new
foundations being
constructed for a building
in Ripon Yorkshire,
it exposed an old firing pit, and an upright
tubular boiler was unearthed and discovered.

The cast/wrought iron tubular boiler sits on
a foundation ring which has an open base
that allows the flames from the furnace
chamber underneath to heat the water in
the tubes. The top of the boiler has a
circular opening allowing the flue gases
to exit through a suitable chimney.

In picture 2 the firing door can be seen.
The ash or clinker was removed through
the opening which can be seen at the
bottom of the pit.

In picture 1 note the boses for the flow
and two return pipework connections. 








When builders were carrying out renovation work to a basement room of a residential Victorian villa
in Bath Spa, they started to clear away a
brickwork enclosure in one corner of the room only to find
that it housed
an old cast iron upright tubular pattern pipework boiler. The Heritage Group were
contacted and asked
to visit and identify this historical equipment. The firing and ash clean-out doors
can be seen in pictures 1 & 2.
A section of both the flow and return pipework from the boiler has been
cut-out but their alignment with the high level pipework can be easily matched in picture 4.

After considerable care and cleaning has been carried out to recondition the furnace and boiler,
recent photos
now show the original layout and construction of the equipment to its full advantage.

The Heritage Group were delighted to be informed about the discovery of another cast iron tubular boiler found buried under the floor of an outbuilding at a property in Canterbury Kent. When there was no further need for the boiler the brickwork furnace pit and its steps were simply filled with soil before a concrete floor was laid on top.

When the owner of the property wanted to change the use of the outhouse and extend its floor area then the original floor needed to broken up. This then exposed the boiler in its brickwork furnace enclosure. It was decided to clean out the brickwork boiler pit and expose the top to show in more detail this very early form of boiler used for heating usually Conservatories, Green and Hothouses.

A series of photos were taken recording the progress of the demolition works which led to the discovery of the tubular boiler and then its cleaning and preparation arranging for it to be on future display.

The original outbuilding

After demolition

Clearing away the rubble

First sighting of the boiler

View of boiler, flue and pipe duct

Close up view of boiler and flue


Top of boiler and its cover plate

Trench for footings showing pipework

Blockwork footings and rubble infill

Another view of trench for footings

View looking at bottom of boiler tubes

Wider view of boiler tubes

View showing top & bottom circular castings

New circular brickwork boiler enclosure

View looking down into boiler enclosure

View looking down upon boiler enclosure

View showing extra brickwork courses for new floor level

View showing courses of brickwork

Finished layout of brickwork upstand

Vincent Skinner set up his first
ironfoundry in Dartford Kent
before moving to Bristol in the
West of England in 1858 where he
built another ironfoundry and
continued making castings for
heating systems.

It is therefore quite likely that with
 the close proximity of Canterbury
to Dartford that this could be an
early example of a Vincent Skinner
tubular boiler installation.

For more information about Vincent Skinner

December  2008 - Updated June 2017