No 9.  DECEMBER  2003

Building  Services  Engineering  Heritage  Group

Electrical Light

The message doesn’t change

Andrew Saville found what he described as a scrapbook of old advertisements, which he purchased and forwarded to the Heritage Group.  On closer inspection it appears to be a portfolio of the work of one artist   W E Bateman. Commercial drawings are not signed but right at the back of the book was a blank certificate for the Bath Road Hundred, a famous cycling time trial of 100 miles. This carried his name.


From the example advert reproduced here, the advantage of pen and ink drawing can be seen particularly at a time when contemporary photography lacked the contrast with the printing processes available and poor quality wartime paper stock.  In total there are almost 200 examples mainly around 1920s. Apart from the product differences, customers were different and certainly better dressed! However today efficiency and effective lighting is still promoted for commercial and industrial lighting, so some things do not change.

In 1913 inert gas filled lamps replaced the vacuum to reduce filament evaporation and bulb blackening. Used together with coiled tungsten filaments, which effectively reduced the surface area of the filament, and therefore heat losses, resulted in almost a 100% improvement in lamp efficacy. Previously light output was approximately 1 candlepower per watt but with these improved lamps  1 candlepower was possible from only ½ watt. Hence the term ‘half watt’ became a simple way of identifying these lamps.

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So often these days most of the news about engineering services history makes for depressing reading with old systems and equipment being removed, cut-up and destroyed.

However, the HG is delighted to report an item of good news, experiencing an example  where given sufficient time, the successful preservation of significant H&V engineering equipment can be achieved, by the willingness of the parties involved to work together, to support the saving of our engineering heritage.
In April this year BJP Consulting informed the HG that a John Grundy warm air stove in St Paul’s Church Deptford was about to be cut-up and removed. The reason for this being that space had to be made available for a new boiler room needed to house heating plant and equipment.  One of the items of the church’s restoration works was the installation of a new wet heating system.

The HG quickly visited the church to make a photographic record of the stove before its removal. As English Heritage were already involved with the restoration works of the church, the HG discussed with them whether there was a possibility of the stove being saved and left in its original position.  The stove was found to be in remarkably good condition considering its age and well worth preserving. Grundy warm air stoves are rare items, and the HG is only aware of the existence of one other stove of this particular design.     

English Heritage then reviewed the situation with the Architect, Main Contractor and Building Services Consultant and after discussions were collectively able to agree upon an alterative arrangement for the new building works whereby the removal of certain existing walls would enable both the new boiler plant to be housed, and the Grundy stove to remain in situ.

Grateful acknowledgement must go to the following persons whose cooperation led to the preservation of this historically significant item of heating equipment.
         Brough Skingley  and David Drewe  -  English Heritage
         David Bailey  -  BJP Consultants  Surrey

         Dean Richardson  and  Kelvin Holford  -  Kingswood Construction (London) Ltd

         Brian Lofthouse -  Thomas Ford and Partners  Architects  Sydenham  London

         Visit the HG website ITEMS OF INTEREST / HEATING / ST PAUL'S  for more detailed                              information.

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Is this the largest box-ended pipe coil heater still existing. Discovered in the Parish church of Ledbury Herefordshire, it is approx. 2.4 M wide by 1.5 M high. It is also a double bank heater unit. The person standing against the heater is 6 feet tall which gives some idea of its great size.

The only example of a Sylvester warm air stove yet discovered has been found in Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. This was the summer home and residence of Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. It is considered  that the stove dates from the opening of the house in 1841.

The HG was told about an unusual inscribed floor plate in a church in Butlers Marsdon Warwickshire. The inclusion of the roman word Hypocaust is most intriguing. Has anyone seen another one like it ?

Another unused, abandoned Haden warm air stove has been discovered. This time in the Parish church of Hanbury  Worcestershire. The church underwent a major restoration in 1861 which was commissioned by the local Vernon family. They used the eminent Victorian architect Gilbert Scott  RIBA. It is most likely that the firm of Haden’s were employed to install the church heating in view of George Nelson Haden’s good working relationship with Gilbert Scott.


That famous wit, the Rev  Sydney  Smith,  who  was  Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral in 1831 disliked preaching in a cold church. Of St Paul's he once complained   "You might as well try to warm the County of Middlesex… sentences are frozen as they come out of my mouth and are thawed in the  course  of  the  summer,  making  strange noises and assertions in various parts of the church” 

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Searching through Faculty applications of Churches in the archives of Local County Record Offices can sometimes uncover little golden nuggets of historical information. Just such an example regarding the Parish Church in Highworth Wiltshire was found by the Ed. Documents including Brochures, advertisements and correspondence from  Skinner & Board, a heating firm from Bristol, had been kept by the Church dating back to the 1890’s and deposited with the Record Office.

An interesting, entertaining and illuminating afternoon was spent by the Ed. at the Museum of Electricity in Christchurch Hampshire. 

It was rewarding to be able to look at an impressive display of historical electrical artefacts. If anyone is in that area then take the time, to look back in time at the history of electrical distribution and its equipment. You won’t be disappointed. Tel: 01202 – 480467 for further information.

The HG have been told that during ground works excavation recently carried out at the Ripon Prison and Police Museum in Yorkshire a Victorian tubular boiler was uncovered. This is the first known example of a vertical tubular boiler as yet discovered. It is  now intended that  this boiler will be removed, conserved and then put on display in the Museum. The HG will provide assistance  in identifying the maker and dating the boiler. 

Congratulations go to Mike Barber our Hon. Secretary for the award of the CIBSE Bronze medal. Justly rewarding a lifetime of service to the Heritage Group. Mike has been with the HG since its inaugural meeting in September 1973 and has carried the responsibility of Hon Secretary for the whole 30 years of the Group’s lifetime.

The HG June meeting was held at the London Offices of English Heritage followed by a tour behind the scenes to see the engineering services at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The September meeting of the HG was held at the National Monuments Records Centre in Swindon by courtesy of English Heritage. The visit included a guided tour of their photographic and drawings archives.

The “Building Services Heritage” booklet was published in September 2003 for the Edinburgh Conference. It is an industry sponsored series of case studies of heritage building engineering  installations.
Chairman Brian Roberts wrote the booklet  in collaboration with HG committee members.

The HG website continues to expand. More pages added to the Picture Gallery and Items of Interest.

A counter has also been added to the website homepage to keep note of the number of visitors to the website.

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