No 6.  JUNE  2002

Building Services   Heritage   Group
The Heritage Group has recently compiled a detailed history of Carrier Engineering Company Ltd, 1921-70, the UK air conditioning contractor and manufacturer. The Group has an extensive collection of Carrier UK catalogues, papers and photographs.

The illustration below is the front cover of a 1931 brochure detailing the services provided at the new BBC Broadcasting House in London's Portland Place: "There are 32 fans handling 614 tons of air per hour, 16 pumps delivering 641 tons of water per hour under pressure, 54 electric motors having a combined capacity of 504 hp, sheet metal ducting weighing 120 tons, and 60 independent automatic controls."


Research continues on the early heating of glasshouses.
The illustrations below are 1) the cover of a 1900 catalogue of Mackenzie & Moncur, Hothouse Builders and Heating & Ventilating Engineers of Edinburgh, and 2)  an advert c.1890 for W & S Deards, Heating and Horticultural Engineers of  Harlow Essex, 

The Heritage Group is also continuing its research on the air conditioning of theatres and cinemas up to 1939.

The photograph below (from the HG Collection) is of the Carrier centrifugal water chiller installed in the Carlton Theatre in the Haymarket, London in 1927.

This photograph (from the HG Collection) is of the British Thomson-Houston 200 TR water-vapour refrigeration machine installed in the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square, London in 1937.

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At the invitation of the Estates Department of the Royal Hospitals Belfast several members of the Heritage Group attended a CIBSE Northern Ireland Regional Meeting at the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast for an evening presentation about the engineering services in the original part of the hospital, which dates from 1903.
This hospital is a Landmark Building in building engineering services and lays claim to being the first “Air conditioned Building in the World”.

The architects Henman and Cooper a Birmingham practice were invited to put forward their design for this hospital and in conjunction with the Consulting Engineer Henry Lea also from Birmingham, created a pioneering revolutionary  design for the form and layout of the hospital wards and their ventilation.

Until then all hospital wards were based upon an open plan layout with openable windows. William Henman applied in his design the “Plenum” ventilation system of William Key which had already been used at the Birmingham General Hospital  but this time rearranging  all the Wards into one  single linked building. Each ward was of single storey design having  a pitched roof with glazing and connected to a spine corridor which provided the access.

Each Ward was independently  supplied with its own ducted fresh air through builders ducts having inlets  at high level.  In the pitched roof the vitiated air was allowed to exfiltrate through roof turrets. The positive pressure supplied by the fresh air ensured that only treated air from the central ventilation plant was breathed by the patients before it was exhausted to atmosphere.


The central ventilation plant drew in full fresh air which  was washed by passing it through coconut fibre ropes kept wetted by a sprinkler system of supply pipes. The air then was then heated by a steam heater battery before being supplied to the Wards through a large 
underground brickwork  walkway duct, (the Plenum) which tapers in height from approx. 6 metres at the supply end down to 2 metres minimum.

Each separate pair of Wards had their own  supply side duct which was fed off  from the  main plenum duct. Steam fed booster heater batteries were fitted at the entry position of each side duct to provide  additional heating as necessary to offset any heat losses within the main plenum duct.

The motive power for the supply ventilation system is provided by two steam engines of Victor Coates manufacture. The steam engines in turn drive the large supply  fan which is of Davidson’s ‘Sirocco’ pattern manufacture.


Samuel Davidson the inventor of the forward bladed  “Sirocco” patented centrifugal fan is thought to have been involved in the design process of the ventilation system.


Hospital records show that  a continual daily check was kept of temperature and humidity in the Wards, which was then maintained by   altering the amount of wetting and heating of the treated air  being supplied to the Wards.

The fact that temperature and humidity was monitored by checking the room conditions in the Wards with a subsequent  response from the maintenance engineers to maintain the room conditions, allows this  Hospital to lay claim to being the first air conditioned building in the world.  

That these hospital wards are still in use today nearly 100 years after their opening is a tribute to the innovative design concept of  the original Architect’s design team of Henman and Cooper with their Consulting Engineer  Henry Lea.   

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The  Heritage  Group  continues with its  project  to seek out and discover Churches and other fine buildings  from  the  Victorian  and  Edwardian periods, which still retain examples of early heating  and  ventilating  equipment  or  memorabilia.  Shown below are a few more of the items discovered.
Gothic style warm air stove by
Robert Howden in a Worcestershire
Church dated about 1830                                                        

Nameplate of the  firm who
installed  the heating system in a
Somerset Church circ. 1890.
Charles Portway Tortoise slow combustion
stove in a Somerset Church circa. 1880


Arrangement of cast iron header boxes
in the Church which allows the pipework
        to change size, direction and levels. 


Whilst zapping around the cable channels the Chairman chanced upon an old Black & White film from 1938 about a young Doctor, titled  “The Citadel” by A J Cronin.  Amazingly in the film there is a camera shot looking over the shoulder of someone who is sorting  through invoices on a writing desk. Clearly readable on the desk are three papers with a  G N Haden & Sons Ltd  letter heading.   Are there any film buffs out there who may have knowledge of how or why this occurred.   If so the Editor would like to hear from you.

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The Heritage Group’s own  website
is now running on the Internet and it is hoped that the site can be updated each month as new discoveries are made.  Links have been set up in both directions with the official CIBSE website.            
          By visiting the website
it is possible to see how many hits have been made to the website each month.

Heritage Group members in  reflective mood
The Heritage Group is looking into the possibility of preparing and producing a CD-Rom which will show  the contents of the  Website together with other written and  photographic  historical  H&V  data.

The Heritage Group is in the process of preparing an illustrated list of Past Presidents of the Institution up to 1976 with  photos  and  a  mini- biography.

The HG would welcome any thoughts, ideas or suggestions on the creation of a Logo for the Group, which could be used to give an identity to all the Heritage Group’s Papers, Articles, Newsletters  and Website. 

In April Mike Barber gave a lecture to the  Merseyside and North Wales  CIBSE region illustrating the recent activities of  the Heritage Group.

Projects in Progress

Biography of Wilson Weatherley Phipson a Victorian Heating Engineer 1838 – 1891

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

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

The history of 19th Century Glasshouse Heating.

The Municipal Technical Institute Belfast.

Histories of  the Belfast, Northern Ireland firms of Davidson  and   Musgrave.

Church Heating systems from the  Victorian & Edwardian periods.

Lighting and Electrical Services in the  Great Ocean Liners.

Air Conditioning of Theatres and   Cinemas  pre-1939.

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