No 5.  DECEMBER  2001

Building   Services   Heritage   Group


It is hard to imagine that in the early decades of the 20th century America could only be reached by  sea. The liners built at that time represented advances in both technology and design that out-matched the architecture of  land-based buildings.
The market demand was for   cheap transport of immigrants,   from Europe to the New  World, on a massive scale. Between 1900-1915 more than 12 million Europeans were shipped across the Atlantic to start a new life. But it is not this volume of passengers that is remembered but the luxury afforded by a few.
Scheduled shipping line services  became practical with the introduction of steam to replace sail, but the subsequent development of the steam turbine by Parsons made it easy to generate electricity onboard and thus enjoy some of the associated devices we take for granted today. Refrigeration of food, passenger lifts, telephone systems, lighting, were all quickly incorporated in these transatlantic liners. 
Research by the Heritage Group has just started on the electrical services, particularly electric lighting, designed for these super ‘blue riband’ liners that sailed across the Atlantic. These ships were mainly built in Europe by Britain, France, Germany and Italy.  Any  information, books and /or references that would be relevant to this research would be gratefully received.

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The Heritage Group is currently preparing its own Website which will  have an Internet address of:- 
This   Website is intended to inform all visitors to the site of the HG activities and interests past and present and to display equipment and systems discovered dating from the Victorian and Edwardian periods.

The  HG  Autumn visit was to the  John Ryland’s
University Library building in Manchester. The library was one of the first public buildings in Manchester to be lit by electricity, and was dedicated in October 1899 and opened in January 1900. This building was and still is heated by an early example of a dual duct ventilation system with radiators acting as the terminal heaters. The original electrical distribution system was DC  supply with bronze conduits. The building has now been rewired and updated to AC but with many of the old conduits and its wiring being reused. The original light switches were incorporated into large bronze ornate wall plates which resemble gas taps and turn through 30o to switch the electricity on or off.  Many of these switches (as shown below) are still in use today.
Thanks are given to John Benn and Tim Bowden of Gifford Consulting Engineers for the slide show and guided tour of the building.

The HG summer visit was to  Eltham Palace in London. Thanks to David Drewe, English Heritage for the organisation and also to Trev Bosman who was the tour guide.


Biography of Wilson Weatherley Phipson a Victorian Heating Engineer.

The Heat Makers. A history of the 
original / earliest heating companies

Manufacturing the Weather, a company
History of Carrier Engineering Ltd, UK
1921 - 1970

The history of 19th Century Glasshouse Heating.

Municipal Technical Institute Belfast.

Histories of  the Northern Ireland firms Davidson  and   Musgrave. 

Church Heating in Victorian & Edwardian times.

Lighting and Electrical Services in the  Great Ocean Liners.


The  HG  have  been  told  that  this  Church 
nr. Woodbridge in Suffolk still uses its  original gas lighting which is the only lighting available in the Church . If any one on the mailing list is in the area and can confirm this fact the Editor would like to hear from you.
A photograph or two would be even better.

The Hon. Secretary would like to be able to communicate electronically with everyone on the mailing list who has an email address. Would Members please contact the Hon. Secretary with this information. The Hon Secetary wld like to be able tocommunicateelectronically with everyone on the pleasecontHon Secretary  with thinformation.

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Since  the  Heritage  Group  embarked  on  their  project  to  check out various Churches and other  buildings  from  the  Victorian  and  Edwardian periods, many more  examples of early heating  and  ventilating  equipment  and / or  memorabilia  in  these  buildings  have  been  found.  Below are a few more of the examples discovered.

A  G N Haden & Sons Ltd Warm Air Stove system dated 1860  complete with builders ducts and floor gratings in a Church on the Isle of Wight

Fresh air inlet ventilation duct (called a Tobin Tube) in a Truro Cornwall Chapel similar to the type shown in the Walter Jones 1904 book ‘Heating by Hot Water 

Pedestal Cast Iron  box enclosure   covering  a finned  radiator in  a Trowbridge Wiltshire Church.

A brass engraved wall plaque stating  the  name of the firm who installed the heating  system in 1875 in another Isle of Wight Church.


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No 5 Hamilton Place, just off Park Lane London built in 1805 was  designed by the architect Thomas Leverton and is a fine example of a Georgian town house built in that period. 

The house underwent a major refurbishment in 1878 carried out by the then owner Leopold de Rothschild during which the Library and Staircase were finished 
out with wonderful  wood carvings. 

In the Library sited above the fireplace there are two wood panels with intricate carvings both of which have particular engineering flavour. 

The left hand panel shows a Grecian goddess holding  aloft what appears to be a pair of batteries in her left hand with a connecting wire  trailing  around  the  two cherubs on either  side  of  the goddess to another  pair

of batteries in her right hand. Both cherubs appear to have some form of ear piece in their right ears.

Was this carving inspired by the invention of the telephone in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell?

The right hand panel shows another Grecian goddess holding a small boiler shaped appliance with steam/smoke appearing to issue forth from a small chimney?   The left  cherub is holding an anchor and chain, and the right cherub a toothed paddle wheel.

Was this carving inspired by I K Brunel’s ship the “Great Eastern” launched in 1856 and then later converted to lay cables. It laid the first transatlantic telephone cable circa. 1868. 

Thanks are given to Keith Wallis Consulting  for providing  this article for inclusion.


   Chairman               Brian Roberts     Tel No:   01737 – 812914   e-mail <>
   Vice Chairman      Paul Yunnie        Tel No:   0121 - 506 7400    e-mail 
   Hon Secretary      Mike Barber     Tel No:  0151 - 794 2489   e-mail  <>
                                                                                                    or <>
   Treasurer               Ian Stewart       Tel No:   0141 - 334 6161   e-mail <>
   Newsletter Editor  Frank Ferris      Tel No:    0117 - 978 0906   e-mail  <>

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