Lady St Mary Church
Wareham Dorset

Close to the River Frome which flows through the southern part of
Wareham is the old 12th century parish church of Lady St Mary

The Victorian wet heating system installed in this church is of a
most unusual shape
and design. The Heritage Group had been
told that the heating pipework in the church
was of square
shape and decorated with chevron markings.

The Church records state "A new heating system was installed in 1882. The same central heating pipes are still in the church and are dated 1880. The inscription on the end headers of the box-ended heaters gives the name of the maker.


In the parish magazine of November 1888 Reverend Selwyn Blackett states that the new system of hot water pipes was the gift of the Sandford family.
This was the Rodgetts of Sandford House.

The two central pew islands in the Nave have a raised floor approx 100mm higher than the adjacent aisles, and it is at this change in height where the square pipework is located in a single pipe loop which is in the form of a ring main routed around the four sides of each pew island.  This square pipework has no supports or brackets and rests directly on the tiled floor. Also there is no provision for expansion in any of the long runs. This arrangement appears to work quite satisfactorily and there are no signs of stressing in the socketted joints.

Centre aisle

       Left hand aisle                 Right hand aisle

What makes these two main single pipe ring loops so remarkable is that there is no
obvious flow and return pipe connections. It needed a detailed search to establish
where the two separate ring mains were fed from. It has to be assumed that
an internal blanking plate is fitted in the square pipework between the two pipe
connections that rise from below, to achieve the correct direction of flow.

        The white circles depict where the flow and return pipes connect into the
                 underside of the square pipes. Each connection is 100mm diameter cast iron. 

At the tower entrance to the Nave are sited two large box-ended pipe heaters each 5 pipes high by 2 rows deep which are also decorated with chevron plus diamond shaped markings.

Both heaters are piped in series with the square pipework of the ring main and have a flanged stool piece which connects the pipe directly to the box-end of the  header.

The circular pipes of the box-ended heaters are covered with diamond shaped patterns.

There are two styles of pipework installed in the church

1) the square decorated pattern and
2) standard 100mm dia cast iron

A standard cast iron double pipework coil is installed along the two outside walls of
the Nave and in all the floor ducts.  Also fitted in the Tower entrance area is another
large size  box-ended heater
8 pipes high by 2 rows deep, but of plain appearance.


It would appear that Mercer Bros of Blackburn the designers of the heating system chose to install two styles of pipework. Firstly where the pipework is in an exposed and visible position the highly ornate and decorated square pattern was fitted, and secondly where the pipework was to be concealed behind pews or in floor ducts standard 100mm dia cast iron was used.

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November  2006