St Michael's
Parish Church of Highworth Wiltshire


The Church dates from the 13th century.  In 1861 / 62 a major restoration was carried out by the Victorians.

From the size and number of floor gratings in the side aisle it is certain that a warm air stove was originally sited in the church. This stove had to have been part of the first restoration works in 1861 / 1862 before the wet heating system was installed  c.1895.


A wall plaque in the church identifies the churchwardens, and artisans who worked on the church in 1796. Not very often does a plumber get mentioned
by name.

What makes this church different from the other churches listed on this website is that details about the heating system were discovered first in the archives at the Wiltshire History Centre. A faculty application was found dated 1895 and church documents had been deposited with the archive which showed that the firm of Skinner and Board from Bristol had installed the heating system.

Previously the Heritage Group have discovered important historical engineering equipment or systems by visiting churches at random when there seemed a possibility that something of engineering interest might be discovered there.  However, this visit was primarily to discover whether the original system still remained.

The good news is that all the original heating system was still installed and operational. From the documentation and the list of contracts found in the archive it is now possible to identify any heating systems installed by Skinner and Board previously discovered. They could also now be identified by their plant and equipment manufactured at their ironfoundry in Stokes Croft  Bristol.

From the selection of various cast iron fittings that can be seen in the church it appears that most of the pipeline fittings were purpose made to suit the individual structural layout of each church building and its arrangement of pews.

Selection of letters that passed between Skinner & Board and R Elwell of St Michael's
which are pertinent and salient to the performance of the heating installation

The following pictures are a selection of the various cast iron fittings and pipework layouts found in St Michael's Church,





There were also three 10-row single bank, pipe coil
heaters which have a distinctive Gothic style pattern
on each end header box.


This type of  pipe coil heater can be seen in an illustration from a Skinner and Board's advertising brochure from that time period.  It is also the pattern of pipe coil heater seen in the Church

The most exciting item of equipment to have found would have been any of Skinner and Board's vertical heating boilers.

Whether any of these boilers still exist is an intriguing question. If anyone knows where one still can be found please contact the Heritage Group.


JUNE  2003

Additions MAY 2016