Landmark  Buildings

Soho House,  Birmingham   c 1790

James Watt used steam to heat a metal box radiator in his office (1784), while his partner, Matthew Boulton, used a similar device in his manufactory and used steam to heat his bath at Soho House (1789). But warm air had more success than steam in early schemes, and used an iron cockle inverted over a fire. Air was passed over the external  surface of the cockle before rising in ducts to the room to be heated. Boulton used this system when redeveloping and extending Soho House. Distribution   ducts were either built into brick walls or were beneath the wooden floors of rooms: air flow was regulated by a series of butterfly dampers. This is possibly the first warm air installation in a large house in Britain since the Roman hypocaust system.
        Matthew Boulton   1728 - 1809                        James Watt     1736 - 1819

Wall plaque with details of furnace heating system.        Outlet openings for hot air in staircase risers.

Cut-away section of wall showing vertical hot air duct
within the building structure

Building boilers for steam engines.

Boulton is reputed to like to say,
"We make here what all the world wants - Power"

     The Octagon, Liverpool,  1867


Dr Hayward’s scheme for his house, the Octagon, is described in a textbook, Health and Comfort in House Building (1872). Fresh air was drawn-in,collected and warmed in the basement. The roof space was used as a foul air chamber into which the vitiated air of the rooms was collected, being drawn by a kitchen fire into a shaft passing to the ground floor, then ascending behind the fire and up the chimney stack (an arrangement not uncommon  at this time). However, a feature of the design is the way in which all the principal rooms opened off closed lobbies,  separated by doors from the Hall and Staircase, which formed a vertical supply duct delivering filtered warmed air. The heating was supplemented by conventional fireplaces and ventilated gas lights, arranged to promote the desired air circulation patterns.

Views of the decorative cornice in the rooms with the
air passages which formed part of the ventilation system.


The above picture shows an extract
duct in the roof space.

The right hand picture shows the
roof space which was used as the
foul air chamber.

   The Royal Pavilion, Brighton  1826

                          The Great  Banqueting Hall

                                   The Great Kitchen

The Prince Regent (later George IV) was determined that the Royal Pavilion should provide the last word in comfort and convenience. By the early 1820s, the Pavilion had gas lighting, an underfloor hot-air heating system, hot and cold water supplies, water closets and a bathroom fitted with douche, shower and vapour baths, as well as a 16 ft x 10 ft marble bath, supplied with salt water from the sea. John Nash’s reconstruction included the creation of the Great Kitchen (1816-18) and associated service rooms with all the latest gadgets and machinery. There were stewing stoves, ovens, hot closets, bread furnace ovens and a large steam room with steam boilers. There was pumped well-water and an ice-house in the garden. The kitchen was lit by copper wall lamps and four hexagonal lanterns fitted with Argand oil lamps. The stewing stoves were provided with a ventilation canopy and the large kitchen fire was fitted with a mechanical spit powered from the chimney draught.

   Cardiff  Castle  1850

Cardiff was once part of the Welsh property of the Marquis of Bute. The second Marquess, realising that the growing coal and iron industry of South Wales needed an outlet, took the bold step of financing the construction of docks at Cardiff. After his death in 1848 a firm of marine engineers, Walker, Burges & Cooper (c 1855) took over the completion of the East Bute Docks at Cardiff. this brought together the third Marquess and william Burges son of the marine engineer, alfred Burges.  William's medieval interests took him into Gothic architecture, and Lord Bute was to become the principal support of Burges's practice.
Burgess wrote a report (1865) , which he sent to Lord Bute on the possibility of restoring Cardiff Castle - a walled enclosure with the remains of a keep and medieval lodgings on one side, the latter having previously been remodelled by Henry Holland (C.1776). Work started with the building of the famous 150 feet high clock tower, and continued with main castle buildings and apartments, all lavishly decorated, the provision of the Bute Tower, and other extensions and renovations.

AUGUST   2002