Penrhyn Castle

A visit by the Heritage Group to the Castle in 2003 found it to hold a treasure chest of engineering history discovering many items of heating equipment which had never been seen before including 5 new patterns of radiator / heaters and a single section wrought iron saddle pattern boiler.

Penrhyn Castle built during the 15th century was modelled upon the layout of a Norman castle. It was constantly being extended and modernised by the families who owned it. The castle was the centre of the vast Penrhyn estate which drew its wealth from the sugar plantations in the West Indies and from the local slate quarries. When the Pennant family became owners of the Castle and its estate the industrial revolution was at its zennith. The house and estate grounds were given to the National Trust in 1951

Hay Dawkins Pennant  (1764 - 1840) commissioned Thomas Hopper as his architect to carry out extensive remodelling of the castle during the 1820's and 1830's.  It must have been during this time period when the first heating equipment was installed in the castle. This took the form of a warm air stove with an arrangement of builders work ventilating ducts. Only a few floor grilles in The Grand Hall still remain. The castle is included in the Lists of Contracts 1840 published by G&J Haden of Trowbridge under the heading H. DAWKENS PENNANT, ESQ,  PENRHYN CASTLE,  N WALES.

Thomas Hopper was
the same Architect commissioned by Simon York the owner of Erddig Hall who had  used G&J Haden of Trowbridge previously for the erection of their warm air stove in 1828. Hopper must have been most satisfied with the results of the installation at Erddig Hall, and then recommended the firm to provide the warm air stove for Penrhyn Castle, during the 1830's. 

Later in the Victorian period possibly during the 1870's or 1880's a wet heating system was  installed in the castle which gave greater flexibility, enabling more rooms and other floors to be heated within the building. The same heating firm was again used but its name had now changed to G N Haden & Sons. This is confirmed by the fact that the Haden name is cast into many of the radiators in the castle. The Haden name on the castings and the pattern of the radiator would date the heating system to sometime after 1874 when Haden's own iron foundry opened in Trowbridge.

Three different size Haden sectional radiators
from its
own iron foundry in Trowbridge Wiltshire.

The sections are  tightened

together by two horizontal tie bars passing through the
top and bottom waterways.

A similar pattern but curved Haden sectional radiator.

A composition type jointing ring is fitted between each section to make a watertight joint.

This pattern of radiator pre-dates
the introduction of right/left hand nipples on threaded sectional radiators.

A finned pattern heater with end headers and external tie bars, fitted into a floor recess.

This type of heater was made by The General Iron Foundry  Company of London

This finned heater is of unknown manufacturer, but it does appear to have a similar  appearance to the James Keith one piece Universal pattern.

This heater is of unknown manufacturer.

This heater is a vertical tubular pattern heater fitted with top and bottom header blocks with vertical threaded tie rods.  Note the three tensioning nuts on the top cover.

Sited in the Kitchen is a wrought iron saddle type boiler that
was originally used to heat the adjacent stable block building.

The system is now disused

September  2006