Parish Church of Bampton.  Devon
St Michael & All Angels

The Church  which originally dates from the 13th century  had a  restoration carried out in the late Victorian  period during the 1890's. Messrs C H Samson of Taunton was the Architect. The Perkins HPHW heating system was installed in 1897 by the firm of  E W Stevens of St James Foundry Taunton Somerset.  Research carried out by one of the  parishioners has found there was a coal fired system in 1858 predating the existing system.  

Very few of these Perkins High Pressure Hot Water (HPHW) heating systems still remain in use today. Hundreds of these systems had been installed by the end of the 19th century but to date the Heritage Group have only found a total of  seven of these systems. These are all located in churches in the southern half of the country.

It is remarkable enough to actually find a Perkins system, but what could make this heating system at Bampton special if not unique, is the fact that the original brickwork furnace complete with two double banks of rectangular coil tubes is still in operational use. The original furnace was solid fuel fired which has now been converted to oil firing. The installation of the oil burner now gives the system the improved facility of providing it with time and temperature control, which now accords with todays energy saving and environmental requirements.


The Perkins HPHW heating system was designed by Angier March Perkins ( 1799 1881) and first patented by him in 1831. By 1841 dozens of these systems had been installed in buildings throughout the country. It is a closed and sealed heating system which comprises an endless circuit of pipework with a number of coil loops each of which does not exceed 500 feet (150 Mtrs).  As a sealed system this allows the water inside the pipes to be heated to much higher temperatures and pressures above the boiling point of water (100 degees C) without changing into steam.

Schematic layout of a typical 2 pass continuous loop circuit 


Water is virtually incompressible, so when the water in the system expands due to the increase in temperature caused by it being heated this expansion in volume has to be accommodated within the two vertical expansion pipe chambers. These are sited at the base of the tower.

The brickwork furnace  is a 4 - pass design and its combustion chamber houses two interlaced double banks of  rectangular pipework coils on the left and right hand sides.  The hot combustion flues gases from the oil burner pass across the inside loop of these coils transferring the  heat into warming the water. The hot flue gases then exit on each side at the top of the combustion chamber, where they are drawn down through the centre of both rectangular pipe coil banks adding further heat to the water, before passing out at the base of the pipe bank into the secondary flue chamber.  The flue gases are finally drawn to the rear of the furnace where they exit up through the chimney.

Left hand side                                                                                 Right hand side


A 7 pipe high
sinuous pipe coil
is situated in the Chancel

Four circuit loops of
pipework are each taken from the furnace and routed at low level around
the walls of the church.

CIBSE  HERITAGE  GROUP