St. Helen's Church.
Abingdon.  Oxfordshire



   
St. Helen's Church dates from around the 12th century and had a major refurbishment in the later Victorian period. In the 1870's the floors were re-laid and new quarry tiles were added to the floors of the Aisles. In 1873 the church records show that 5 Warm Air Stoves were installed in pits in the Church, one to each of the  Aisles.
The stoves are of John Grundy manufacture.  A firm with works in London and Tyldesley. The stoves supplied warmed air to the Church through lattice pattern cast iron floor gratings. All these gratings have now  been removed and replaced with closed gratings.
Parishioners can remember the Stoves in use up until the early 1960's. 
These John Grundy stoves are the first examples of his stoves to be  found by the Heritage Group.
Each warm air stove is housed in a floor pit approx. 800 mm deep which can be accessed by lifting two hinged chequer plate covers. Each pit also has additional space acting as a coal storage area and the Stoker was able to stand in the pit and shovel coal directly into the stove through the fire door. Coal was emptied into the pit through a separate coal hole with a Cast Iron cover. Inspection of the external walls of the Church noted two gratings at ground level which could be entry positions for possible fresh air underground  inlet ducts serving the stoves. No signs exist of any flues or chimneys connected to or discharging from the stoves.




 
John Grundy took out Patent No. 8455 in 1889 for Improvements in Underground Air warming Apparatus to increase the effectiveness of his stoves, the layout of which is as shown below.


 
                   
John Grundy became the first president of the IHVE in 1898 and when he died in 1913 was succeeded by his son Herbert H Grundy who also became president of the IHVE in 1915 - 1916.
He built up a thriving Heating firm in the late 1800's with an Office and separate Showrooms in London. The foundry was at the Tyldesley Ironworks near Manchester. The firm manufactured the Patent "Hestia" and "Sirius" Actual smoke Consuming Grates (with visible fires) and the Patent "Hestia" slow and quick combustion warming & ventilating stoves.
He claimed over 1000 testimonials and 27 medals.
He advertised the "CALORIFIER" and the well known Grundy smoke consuming central fresh  warmed air heating apparatus for public and private buildings.
The warm air stoves in St. Helen's Church could well be of this type.

 

  CIBSE HERITAGE GROUP
  NOVEMBER  2001