The first Heating & Ventilating Engineer

The first Heating & Ventilating Engineer

Thomas Tregold MInstCE (1788 - 1829)  Can he lay claim in history to be remembered as the first Heating & Ventilating (H&V) Engineer.

His 1824 book titled-
"Principles of Warming and Ventilating in Public Buildings, Dwellings-Houses, Manufactories ......"
  was the first treatise to look in any detail at the new discipline, the warming and ventilating of buildings.

He divided the book into 12 chapters each describing a various area of this new form of engineering science.

The pros & cons of distributing heat.

The various types of fuel.

Steam as a medium for heating of buildings.

The necessity for Ventilation to provide healthy air for buildings.

Steam boilers their construction and effectiveness.

Distributing heat by the use of steam.

Using the principles of the previous chapters as they applied to warming and ventilating different types of occupied buildings.

Using the principles of the previous chapters as they applied to Hospitals and buildings needing equal temperatures.

Construction of stoves for warming Hothouses including distribution pipework and ventilation requirements.

Construction of grates and fireplaces and their need for ventilation.

The use of steam for the purpose of drying.

His personal choice respecting the nature of heat.

The publication of this book was the first serious attempt to collect and assemble all the snippets of information available, and disseminate them as the eleven chapter's subjects. Combining the narrative with various experiments to develop a technical design approach to the heating and ventilating for all types of buildings used for dwellings, industrial, medical and horticulture.

To verify his proposals Tredgold carried out numerous experiments. Included in the book are many illustrations of steam boilers, pipework systems and stoves that illustrate how they could be installed in the various types of buildings.

From his humble childhood with little formal education he used the self-taught knowledge acquired to author several books on very diverse subjects and became a polymath.

The important legacy of his books can be assessed by the number of further editions updated and published by other authors to include more recent improvements in that particular subject. Certain Tredgold books were still being re-published into the 20th century.

His technical ability and breadth of knowledge for a person of his age group during the 1820's quickly allowed him aged 23 to gain membership of the newly formed Institution of Civil Engineers (created in 1818) and become member No 47.

His relentless pursuit for knowledge throughout his short adult life took its toll upon his health contributing to his early death in 1829, sadly preventing him from achieving the status and recognition his award of Honorary Membership of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1824 would have brought him.

Tredgold certainly didn't achieve the recognition that his contemporaries Telford and Brunel were accorded. Their designs and structures were built and erected for all to see, whereas Tredgold was involved with the engineering science of the Built Environment that only like-minded engineers were aware of and would appreciate.

Nevertheless through his technical writing skills he brought together the salient knowledge of that era, about this new emerging engineering discipline, with his legacy being the first in depth treatise about this fledgling science of Heating and Ventilating.

Was his early death at the age of 40 instrumental in history virtually forgetting Thomas Tredgold. These webpages are an attempt to correct this omission and recognise an Engineer who became a true polymath.

Application for Membership 27th March 1821

Membership Agreement 7th May 1821

Honorary Membership 15th June 1824

Experiments on the Expansion of Water by Heat

A communication by Thomas Tredgold to the Institution of Civil Engineers
of an account of some experiments carried out by him on the Expansion
of water by heat.


From this copy of the Minutes of an Ordinary Meeting of members
dated 10th February 1824 it is remarkable to note that Tredgold
is in attendance with Angier Perkins.
Also note that a plan of a bridge
on the principles of suspension was presented to the meeting
from Mr Brunel.

Further information about Thomas Tredgold can be found on this website by visiting

Hall of Fame     &     Pioneers

JULY 2015