- the -
Victorian Family and Firm
in Trowbridge

A potted history about this family of famous engineers during their lifetime in Trowbridge Wiltshire, Each of the four generations either starting or ending their lives in the Victorian era. Spanning nearly 130 years from 1816 to 1945. Each generation being instrumental in pioneering advancements in the science of heating and ventilating.


Researched, prepared and written by

F J Ferris for the Heritage Group of
the CIBSE  June  2004.

With acknowledgements to

The Haden Family
Institution of Civil Engineers
Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Wiltshire History Centre
Birmingham Library Patents Office
The Wiltshire Times Newspaper
The Times  Newspaper
The Trowbridge Museum
Boulton & Watt Soho Archive Birmingham
Colin Brown, Historian for Chelmsford Prison
Niall Hammond  Archaeo-Environment Ltd

Use these links below to go direct to that item.

George        James       George Nelson   William Nelson   Charles Ingham   George Nelson
                                                                                           1788 - 1856    1790 - 1871         1817 - 1892                 1859 - 1946             1863 - 1947             1900 - 1960

Anniversaries     Advertisements    Springfield Gaol    Swinton House

What makes researching the history of the Haden family and engineering firm so remarkable and enjoyable, is the fact that an Archive of Haden information is held at the Wiltshire History Centre in Chippenham. This archive is dedicated to Haden's and contains a treasure chest full of historical dates, documents, order books, drawings, newspaper articles, pictures and letters.

Many books, magazine and newspaper articles have been written about the Haden brothers beginnings in Trowbridge and their lives working in the County of Wiltshire on the erection of Steam Engines and the repair and maintenance of machinery for the local Woollen Mills.

This short history attempts to draw together various documents, letters, articles and photographs which relate in particular to the four generations of the family who became trusted and respected members of the local community, and to give an insight into their achievements. Showing how George and James and their descendants progressed, by building up a successful Heating & Ventilating firm from the early 1800’s, and later adding its own iron foundry. The firm expanded during the 1900’s into a national company with a network of branch offices throughout the United Kingdom.

The family were deeply religious with a Congregational non-conformist denominational background, who were at the heart of the Tabernacle Church activities throughout their entire lives. Most members of the family at some time were Teachers at the Sunday School and also progressed to become Deacons and Superintendents.

Trowbridge Tabernacle Church

Family group photograph taken c.1897 showing both
William Nelson and Charles Ingham each with their wife and children

This family history begins with George Haden snr who worked at the famous Birmingham Soho Manufactory of Boulton and Watt at the end of the 18th century.

George snr had three sons, John who was articled to, and George and James who were  apprenticed to the firm of Boulton & Watt for various periods from 5 to 7 years. John finished in 1813 George in 1809 and James in 1811. On completion of their apprenticeships they  became agents for Boulton & Watt.

George Haden (1788 - 1856) was apprenticed at the age of 15 for a period of 5 years to the firm of Boulton and Watt at their Soho Birmingham Manufactory as an Engineer, working on the erection of steam engines. From around the age of 22 years (1809) he was sent out on the road as a travelling agent / engineer by the firm assembling, erecting and commissioning steam engines manufactured by the firm at the Soho works.

His work took him first to the North of England. His first job according to the list of engine erectors (beginning in January 1808) was circa December 1809, for Birley & Hornby in Manchester.  He then spent several years in Scotland carrying out the erection of many steam engine installations for the firm. After living away from his home in lodging houses for so long and missing the close family ties of his Father and siblings he became disenchanted. His many letters written to his family read how he became more disgruntled with his way of life and his earnings and must have made these feelings well known to his employers.

So in 1814 Messrs Boulton and Watt sent George southwards to the West of England where there was an ever increasing demand for steam engines needed to power the machinery in the woollen mills being built in the counties of Somersetshire, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. The woollen firm of J&T Clark had decided they needed to have a steam engine to power their Trowbridge Mill so this became the first engine George had to erect.  He was much taken with the town and in a letter to his father dated March 1815 said,

In the first place allow me to inform you that I scarcely ever saw such a place for business, the town is but small it should contain 6000 inhabitants but I really believe there are 10000 in it at this time”.

There was so much work to be had around the area that it wasn’t long before he was joined by his new wife Ann Nelson (whom he had recently married in Harborne Staffs ) and later by his brother James Haden and set up home in Trowbridge. Their work thrived during the period 1815 to 1820 and their reputation for quality of work is shown by the local business men being prepared to support them financially as given in an extract of a letter written to his father in 1815.

Several Gentlemen in this town have offered to subscribe together so as to allow me £50 a year to take care of their engines, and as my time would not be half employed in this occupation I should have the opportunity to transact other business, I think to my advantage”. 

In the first of his surviving letters written to his father in 1810 he mentions AN and in every  subsequent letter he asks to be remembered to Ann and her family so it is no surprise when he marries Ann Nelson on the 1st May1816 at the Parish Church of St Peter's in Harborne Staffs. The wedding must have been a great occasion as the Wedding certificate is signed by no less than seven members from both families.  Ann soon joins him in Trowbridge in 1816 and together they set up house. In 1817 Ann and George had their first child who they named George Nelson Haden.

The brothers quickly started to expand their activities to include millwrighting work repairing and maintaining the machinery of the Woollen Mills. They were so busy that they wrote in letters to their Father of the long working hours needed and also while others were able to have Christmas holidays.

“engineers were still required to work”

Tragedy struck George in August 1819 when his beloved wife Ann died suddenly only five days after giving birth to their second child who was named Benjamin. The infant child also died quickly just five days after his mother.

Young George Nelson was only two years old when his mother died and was then looked after and cared for by George’s two older sisters Mary and Sarah, with Sarah carrying by far the largest share of his upbringing.  His appreciation of her efforts was to show in later years.

Little is known about why and how the two brothers came to be interested in the erection of warm air stoves and when their working priorities changed towards the Heating & Ventilating side of their business.

From the family letters we first note mention of heating stoves by James in October 1816 when writing to George from Matthew Boulton’s house in Great Tew Oxfordshire. Whether the brothers were making their own stoves at this time or erecting another firms stove is unknown. However, we know that George and James started their firm of G & J Haden in 1816 and stoves manufactured in their Trowbridge works commence from around 1819 as shown in the firm’s order books. 

We may be given a clue from a note held in the Boulton & Watt Soho Archive which says,

On 10 Feb. 1830 Creighton wrote to Brown “Mr. Hardwick should by all means apply to G. & J. Haden Trowbridge, who have done much in heating about London, and with great satisfaction.  BW&Co. have several years ago ceased to prepare stoves, and in their favour.”

This comment could suggest that George and James were using BW&Co. designs originally but when BW&Co. no longer became interested in making stoves G&J may have taken over the old stove patterns and improved them to develop their own range of warm air stoves.  Every stove made by G&J Haden was given an unique number and the first order book lists stove No 1 to a Mr Bythesea of Trowbridge. Stoves Nos.  2 - 6 were erected for the Earl of Pembroke at Wilton House Wiltshire.

Times were good for George and James as the order books show that between 1820 and 1855  around 1500 warm air stoves were made and erected.  The census of 1851 records the firm employing 83 men at St George’s Works in Silver Street Trowbridge.

George and James carried out the erection of a large number of warm air stove installations in Mansions, Churches, Banks, Colleges and public buildings under the name of G&J Haden, which can be seen in their impressive lists of contracts (of unknown date, possibly 1840's) which was prepared hopefully to influence future clients. Note: in the list of contracts the reference to Mr Creighton of Soho House Birmingham, who wrote the letter to Mr Brown commenting on the great satisfaction with G&J Haden.

George Haden was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers for twenty-two years, having joined in 1834 as member No 314. His certificate of membership being signed by the presiding chairman Thomas Telford. He always took a lively interest in the proceedings, but his constant residence in the country prevented his frequent attendance at the meetings.

The List of His Patents

Number 5773    2nd March 1829      Machinery for dressing cloths

Number 6561   24th February 1834  Machinery applicable to the manufacture of wollen-cloths

Number 7927  8th October  1842  Manufacturing Soap for compostion for the felting and other processes employed in the manufacturer of wollen-cloth

Number  9259   15th February 1842  Apparatus for warming and ventilating buildings

When George Haden died in 1856 the tributes in the obituaries speak for themselves showing the respect and esteem in which he was held by the local community, the industry and his professional Institution.

The following extract from the obituary memoir written by the secretary Sir Charles Manby and printed by the ICE in 1856, gives a word picture of his lifetime of dedication to his work and other duties.

“He received his education in Handsworth near Birmingham, and at an early age worked in several of the manufactories in that neighbourhood, changing as he became acquainted with the system at each, for the purpose of acquiring a general knowledge of the various branch of manufacture. The information thus acquired, he found extremely useful to him in later-life.  At Sir Edward Thomason’s manufactory, he by accident saw a machine and, from memory, made one so exactly like it, that he was supposed to have been employed by some party to pirate the invention; but, on explanation it was found that he had constructed it entirely at his own house, and for his own amusement. This firm perceiving his ingenuity, wished to retain his services, but he preferred engineering, and was therefore apprenticed to Messrs Boulton and Watt of Soho, in whose service his father had been for many years employed, chiefly in the superintendence of the copying–machine business. His energy during his apprenticeship was very marked.  At that time the late Mr Brunton was manager of the engineering works, and if he wanted any little matter schemed and fitted up, young Haden was generally employed upon it, and he never hesitated to work all night, and would not leave it until it was completed, frequently working during three nights in a week. On the completion of his apprenticeship he was  employed by the firm first in Manchester, whence he was sent for as “the young man who was never tired ” and for them he also erected the first gas-works established in Leeds. He afterwards went to Glasgow for the same firm, where he remained five years, engaged in erecting the Cranston Hill Waterworks, since removed, being the first in Glasgow.  He was also engaged in erecting the first pair of engines that worked together, at right angles on board a steam- boat the ‘ Princess Charlotte’ on the Clyde. They were two 4 HP  engines and were intended to work each paddle separately, but Mr Haden connected them. He subsequently erected many engines in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and the neighbourhood and, in the pursuit of his calling he was so indefatigable and industrious that Mr James Watt at one time doubted whether he could have been occupied so many hours as were stated; but after examining the books and seeing what was done each day and night, Mr Watt expressed himself as perfectly satisfied, and returned the books with a present in addition to the overtime. One incident will serve to show the active and persevering character of the man. On being sent to repair an engine, fifteen miles from Glasgow, he rode over on horseback in a storm of sleet and snow. He at once took out the piston, when he found a leak in the bottom of the cylinder, as the cylinder was too hot to stand in, he was suspended for twenty minutes head downwards, repaired the leak, started the engine and returned immediately to Glasgow.  On his return to England,  he settled in Trowbridge and was appointed by Messrs Boulton and Watt their agent in the West of England, including the counties of Gloucestershire,  Wiltshire and Somersetshire, where he erected a great number of steam-engines for the cloth manufactorys; this engagement continued for thirty-four years, and after its expiration he continued to practice on his own account, taking out patents for the improvement in the machinery for the manufacture of cloth. One of these had reference to the dressing machinery, which by an ingenious system of revolving steam cylinders, on a revolving barrel gave a high lustre to the broad cloth. Another was for the changing the usual gig barrels to certain angles while in rotary motion. A third was for causing the boards and brushes to move horizontally during the revolving motion of the cylinder itself. During this period his attention was drawn to the ventilating and warming of buildings of all kinds, a department of his profession which he followed with great assiduity, and in which he attained a good reputation, being intrusted with many large buildings in all parts of the country. He was engaged with the Commissioners of Prisons, for whom he designed many works, having a patent for apparatus specially applicable to such buildings. Mr Haden possessed great decision of character, and from his long practical experience, had gained an extensive acquaintance with all kinds of machinery, his views on mechanical subjects being remarkably clear-sighted. He was deservedly respected by all who employed him, or who served under him, as being a man of strict integrity and honest of purpose, and who was always desirous of promoting the interests and well-being of others. He was frequently engaged in arbitrations, and was often selected to act as an umpire. He was during the whole of his life especially anxious for the welfare of the young, and for thirty years took the active superintendence of a large Sunday – school. Frequently in his journeys in different parts of the kingdom he met and received, the grateful thanks of those who, in early life had been his pupils, and who had profited by the instruction imparted by him and the discipline enforced.  However great his labours might have been during the week he never neglected his work on the Sabbath-day. He was a steady promoter of the education of the people , and all liberal and philanthropic measures were ever supported to the best of his ability, displaying in this the spirit of a Christian philanthropist. As a father he was kind in manner, but firm in discipline, and his decease which occurred on the 29th October 1856, in the sixty-ninth year of his age, left a  blank in the family circle which cannot be replaced.

The local Advertiser, in alluding to his death says: “ In the decease of Mr Haden, Science has lost an able engineer, society a useful member, and the poor a generous man and sympathising friend. Independently of the benefits he afforded the town from the number of men he employed, and the productions of skill he sent all over the globe, he was always ready to lend a helping hand to any good work. He was religious without sectarian bigotry – liberal without ostentation.”

At a special meeting of the Committee of the Mechanics Institution the following resolution was passed:  that the Committee of the Trowbridge Mechanics Institution (on behalf of themselves and the other members of the Institution ) have heard with deep regret of the death of Mr George Haden, their late President, benefactor, and friend and expressing their sympathy the surviving son and other with relatives, they cannot but feel that it must be an alleviation of his and their sorrow, to reflect that the life of the departed was devoted to piety and benevolence, and that as the promoter of every good object, the special friend of the working classes, and the kind instructor and guide of the young, his name will be cherished, his actions live and his example be followed when marble monuments have crumbled into dust.”


James Haden 1790 - 1871 being a bachelor he was able to be the partner in the firm who travelled the country erecting, supervising and taking orders for the installation of warm air heating & ventilating stoves and expanding the firms business. His travels took him the length and breadth of the British Isles and his notebook shows visits to counties as far apart as Kent and Invernesshire.

James after completing his apprenticeship in 1811 worked in the Soho Manufactory of Boulton and Watt.  We know from letters to his brother George that in 1816 he was working at the home of Matthew Boulton in Great Tew Oxfordshire erecting a warm air stove. Another letter in June 1816 comments on several stoves that he is erecting in Oxfordshire when he says,

"I have asked Mr Boulton to allow me to put up warm air stoves about here and he has given leave providing it does not delay his work . I have one under hand now about four miles".   

James is still in Great Tew in December 1817 carrying out estate work for Matthew Boulton repairing farm machinery.

From his letters we can see that James is always seeking advice from his brother on many matters including finances, work and employment prospects. In 1821 an example of him seeking the advice of his brother occurs when he is offered employment with the East India Company at their Calcutta Mint. Matthew Boulton writes to James stating, 

The Directors of the Honourable East India Company having fixed the appointment of the parties to be employed in the erection and management of the machinery of the Calcutta Mint have authorised me to state that  the foreman machinist will have a salary of £400 per annum and his passage provided at the expense of the Company.

As James did not take up this appointment we may assume that his brother George did not recommend its acceptance.

One of James notebooks has survived, which covers the years 1829 - 1832. It gives an interesting insight into his travels and varied engineering interests. This notebook accompanied him on his various site visits to take details about the buildings he was to survey.

the notebook has a strange mixture of information in it ranging from firstly, quite detailed dimensioned survey sketches that he drew, complete with the calculations necessary to establish the size and number of warm air stoves required to heat the premises. Other pages give various scientific technical notes on,
  • how to make a thermometer;
  • the theory of latent heat and how this can explain the cooling of champagne;
  • the theory of the hydraulic ram;
  • how to make a spirit level;
  • the composition of air;
  • an explanation about stuttering and stammering;
  • article copied from Gardening Magazine about Perkins HPHW heating system.
He also mentions items relating to botany.

He copied out in detail in his notebook a letter written to the The Times newspaper in November 1841 which gave numerous examples of fires and damage caused to various buildings by 1) Dr Arnotts heating stoves, 2) Perkins HPHW heating systems and 3) over-heating chimney flues. No doubt James used this information when in discussions with prospective clients, to explain and extol the benefits of using a Haden warm air stove.
James Haden remained a batchelor, and apart from his business travelling for the firm, lived the majority of his adult life in Trowbridge. He decided to retire in 1855 at the age of 65 staying in Trowbridge for his retirement. The census of 1861 and 1871 shows him living at Homefield, Polebarn Road. James died in 1871 at 81 years of age.


George Nelson Haden 1817 - 1892 (who liked to be known as Nelson Haden) was the only surviving child of George and Ann Haden (nee Nelson).  Born in Trowbridge Wiltshire on 8th March 1817 he was baptised at the Tabernacle Church in Church Street on 25th April in the same year.

Apprenticed for 5 years to G&J Haden when he was 14 years old, and after two decades with the firm he was ready at the age of 39 to take over control of the firm after his fathers death in 1856.  Following his uncle's retirement in 1855 the name of the firm changed to George Haden & Son.

On the 30th September in 1841 he married Mary Poynton in the Tabernacle Congregational  Church. This was the first marriage ceremony to be performed in the church after the new marriage act of 1837 was passed by Parliament.

Nelson and Mary had 8 children who were born between 1842 and 1852, but tragically only two children survived into adulthood.  Particularly tragic was the death of their eldest son George Slade who died at his school when only 10 years old.
His wife Mary died on the 22nd April in 1853 at the young age of 43 years.

Later he met
Emma Louisa Batley and married for the second time in Bristol during the summer of 1856. She was 28 years of age and came from St Andrews in London. They had 5 children who were born between 1857 and 1863.

The firm expanded and flourished under Nelson Haden's control with Branch Offices opening in London, Manchester and Birmingham.

In 1874 Haden's opened their own iron foundry named St Georges Foundry sited in Bythesea Road Trowbridge. Nelson Haden went into partnership with John Woodfin the husband of Sarah Woodfin.  Sarah was Nelson's aunt who had brought up the young Nelson from the age of 2 years after his own mother died in 1819.

All three of his sons, Joseph Poyton from his first marriage, together with William Nelson and Charles Ingham from his second marriage joined and were apprenticed to the family firm.

As Nelson Haden and his father George worked together there was never a need for correspondence to pass between them. Nelson Haden greatly revered his father. In one of the few letters that were written by him to his father, this one on the occasion of his 36th birthday, when he is away working in Taunton he says,

.......  I would first name the uniform kindness of a tender Father, to whom judicious training I owe (under God) my present comfortable position. My prayer is that any future life may exhibit in all my actions that gratitude to you my Dear Father for all you have done for me. May our heavenly Father long spare your valuable life .........

Another example of his affection for his father is the dedication of a stained glass window to his Father's memory in the Tabernacle Church. The inscription reads,

To George Haden died October 29th 1856 
by his son George Nelson Haden

On the 3rd January 1892 in Trowbridge he died of Influenza aged 73 years in. His wife Emma survived him and lived  until 1901 when she died at the age of 73 years on 9th June.

William Nelson Haden 1859 - 1946 was born on March 10th 1859 at Homefield House Trowbridge. He was the 7th son of George Nelson Haden but the second son of his second marriage.

His education started at home where he was taught at an early age by his step-sister Marianne (who was a teacher at the local school). In 1868 he became a weekly boarder at a Preparatory School in Devizes until 1871, then progressed on to Grosvenor Road  School in Bath.

He completed his education at Oakley House Caversham  Nr. Reading leaving in 1875.  William was a keen athlete at this school  winning the 100yards, coming second in the 200 yards and 1/4 mile.

Whilst on holiday in Ilfracombe in 1868 with his parents he returned with his father to attend the funeral of his great aunt Sarah Woodfin. Sarah was his father George Nelson's aunt  who had become his surrogate mother when his own mother died.

After leaving school in 1875 William commenced his apprenticeship with the firm on 1st October for a period of 5 years and started work in the Pattern Shop. Although trained in the firm's works, he then worked on the design of steam engines and machinery for the cloth mills.

After the death of their father in 1892 the three sons Joseph Poynton, William Nelson and Charles Ingham entered into a partnership on 10th August  1893. The partnership was to be effective from 31st March 1892 for 7 years.  A further partnership of the firm was made with his brother Charles in 1912 to take effect from 31st March for 10 years.

He met Jeanie Denholm who came from Bo'ness in Scotland and they were married there on the19th March 1897. William and Jeanie had four children between 1898 and 1905.

William greatly increased the firms involment with the heating of buildings by both air and water. Under his direction the firm expanded its activities until it achieved a leading position in the industry during the early 1900's in the areas of heating, ventilating and air conditioning. Becoming Chairman and Joint Managing Director of the company in 1919, he held the posts until his retirement in June 1933.

William was an active member of the Institution of Heating and Ventilating Engineers being elected a member in September 1902, then soon being made President in February 1906. He gave as his presidential address "Standards, legislation - suggested lines of development".  He remained president the following year due to the intended president A Basil Simpson being abroad. Appointed honourary treasurer of the Institution in February 1909 (when the membership was 275), he held this post for 34 years until retiring in 1943.

He was a keen supporter of the Institution's summer meeting. In his first year as President  the summer meeting was held at the Empire Hotel in Bath followed by an excursion train special to Trowbridge then a coach and horses trip to Longleat House. In the second year as president the meeting was followed by a river  trip on theThames from Windsor to Hampton Court.

In recognition of his services to the Institution in 1943 William was awarded the highest honour by the Institution of its Gold Medal which was presented to him by IHVE President Dr Oscar Faber in 1945 at the annual meeting and luncheon. He was keenly interested in education and training at both national and local levels, and a William Nelson Haden fund was created by the Institution to provide scholarships to students training in the H&V industry.

William was also an active member of the local community and involved with many public duties for the County and Town serving on their committees as,
  • Justice of the Peace for Wiltshire County Council in 1898
  • Elected member of Trowbridge Urban District Council  1899
  • Member of the Education Committee 1917
  • Chairman of the Wiltshire Probation Committee 1922
  • Chairman of Governors Trowbridge Secondary Schools 1927
  • Elected Councillor for Trowbridge North  1928
Similar to the dedication (of a stained glass window) made by his grandfather to the memory of his father, so William made a gift and presentation in 1939 of a new bandstand in the main park and gardens of his home town of Trowbridge dedicated to the memory of his father and grandfather. 

The opening  took place on the 22nd July and the first band to perform that evening was the band of HM Royal Artillery Portsmouth. At that time it was said to be one of the finest bandstands in the West Country.

Charles Ingham Haden 1863 - 1947 was born on 2nd June 1863 in Trowbridge and baptised in the Congregational Tabernacle Church on 26th July in the same year.

After his education he joined the family firm as an apprentice for 5 years from 1880 to 1884 then serving as a draughtsman until becoming a partner in the firm in 1892 and placed in charge of contracts. Under his direction many new prestigious contracts were installed including the University of Leeds, St. Bartholomew's Hospital, St Paul's Cathedral and Cheltenham Town Hall.

He married Amy Tarrant in Derby in 1881 who sadly died young aged 32 in 1889. Charles married again in the spring of 1893 Rosa Maria Soundy in Trinity Church Reading Berkshire. They had three children born between 1894 and 1901. After the death of his wife Rosa in July 1937, Charles in 1938 had the Tabernacle Cottages completely reconstructed as a memorial to her. An inscribed wall stone was placed in the external wall to acknowledge these works.

When the firm was incorporated in 1919 he became joint Managing Director of the firm and took charge of the contracting branch of the company. He became Chairman of the company in 1933 upon the retirement of his brother, a post he then held until his own retirement in 1938.

Charles was an active member of the Institution of Heating and Ventilating Engineers being elected a member in September 1902, and being made President in February 1910. He gave as his presidential address "Ventilation of Schools".

Charles was also an active member of the local community and involved with several public duties for the County and Town serving on their committees as,
  • Chairman of the County Education Committee
  • Chairman of the Managers of the Local Council Schools
  • Justice of the Peace for Wiltshire County Council
  • President of the Trowbridge and District Hospital

He died at his home Red Gables Trowbridge on 24th May 1947

George Nelson Haden 1900 - 1960 (who also liked to be known as Nelson) was born on 9th March 1900 in Trowbridge and baptised in the Congregational Tabernacle Church on 13th May in the same year.

He was educated at Mill Hill School and after leaving attended the University of Manchester studying for a BSc Degree in Engineering.  After graduation he resided in the United States for a time where he worked for the American District Steam Company of Tonawanda New York as a draughtsman involved with district heating installations, and also worked for the Detroit Edison Company.  Returning to Britain in 1923 he joined the family firm.

Whilst at Manchester University, Nelson met another graduate Phylis Jean Mudie who was studying History and they married on 10th January 1924. They had four daughters born between 1924 and 1934.

Nelson was an active member of the Institution of Heating and Ventilating Engineers, elected an associate member in September 1924, became a member in 1925 and elected to council in 1932. He served on the Technical Education, Examinations Board, Scrutineers-Membership, Research and Reception Committees. He became President in February 1938.
He gave as his presidential address  "Aims and Objects of the Institution".

As the firm activities were increasingly being centred upon the new head office in
London, Nelson moved with his family to London in 1929.

Most likely because of his previous knowledge and experience gained
in the United States with district heating, in 1947 he was appointed by the then Ministry of Fuel and Power to be a member of a Commission  that visited the USA, to study District Heating in American Housing.

He also was an active and popular member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers becoming an Associate in 1936 transferring to member in 1939.  From 1947 to 1957 he was a member of Council during which time he served on the Membership, Finance and House, and Local Branches Committees.

Nelson was awarded the OBE in 1948 for services to industry.  In recognition of his achievements and services to the Institution and the H&V industry he was awarded the Institution of Heating and Ventilating Engineers highest honour of their gold medal in 1959.

Similar to William Haden his father, he was particularly interested in education and was a nominee to the board of governors of the National College.

He retired from the Chairmanship of the firm and left the company in 1958 due to ill health. He died in London on 30th July 1960. The obituary in The Times newspaper dated 16th August 1960 concluded with these words

“In these varied activities Nelson Haden’s dominant qualities of humanity, warm friendship, and a gift for wise counsel made him a much loved colleague to a large circle. He knew where the real values lie – he did much good that will abide”   

An extract from the Wiltshire Times summarizes the significant and important contribution the
Haden firm and family made to the town of Trowbridge for nearly 130 years.

The disappearance of Hadens from the Industrial life of Trowbridge in 1945 was the severing of a link with a firm and a family which had played an outstanding part in the town’s affairs for over a century, and had made the name of Trowbridge known far and wide on almost as large a scale as the reputation of Trowbridge woollen cloth.

In 1814 the woollen firm of J & T Clark decided they must install a steam engine in their Trowbridge Mill, and ordered one from the famous firm of Boulton and Watt. The firm sent a young engineer, George Haden to supervise the work. The machine was in use by 1815, but George Haden saw an opening in Trowbridge and settled in the town to found his own business. For some years he specialised in steam engines and accessories for the local factories, but in due course the firm he founded developed into one specialising in heating systems. Among the many large contracts secured by Haden’s were the installation of heating in the new Law Courts in the Strand London; the new Liverpool Anglican Cathedral ; and the Northern Ireland Parliament building to name only a few of those carried out while the firm was operating from Trowbridge.

The original George Haden’s son and grandsons played their part not only in industry but also in the general life of Trowbridge, as members of the local authority, Magistrates, and sincere and generous supporters of their church, the Tabernacle Congregational Church. In successive generations, members of the family endowed the Tabernacle with most of its splendid range of ancillary buildings, including the fine gymnasium, and gave the town a new bandstand  in the park in memory of the founder of the firm; and their interest in and voluntary service for the cause of local education was given permanent recognition in the naming of the Nelson Haden Schools, opened shortly before the war.


The firm of Haden established in 1816 had the misfortune to find that its centenary occured during the first World War and its 125th  anniversary during World War II. This prevented the distribution of any commemorative publications to celebrate these anniversaries, due to the firms participation in the production of ordnance during the first world war, and working on military contracts for the Government during the second world war.

No publication was made to commemorate the centenary but a limited issue was made to celebrate its 125th anniversary. This took the form of a simple booklet designed by G Nelson Haden, which showed a series of twelve advertisements which first appeared in the Architectural Press for 1941-1942.

The foreword to the booklet was written by G Nelson Haden in 1942 as shown below.

When the year 1966 was reached, the firm for the first time in its history, was able to celebrate the anniversary with a commemorative publication understandably titled "Haden 150 years." During the year an exhibition of artefacts from the firm's historic past toured the regional offices of the company enabling the employees to enjoy contact with items that brought the firm's founders George and James "back to life."

In 1991 a further anniversary was reached and another booklet was published illustrating 175 years of the firm's history. The Haden company must now surely have become the Heating & Ventilating industry's longest surviving firm, still trading, which continues to use its original name.

The bicentenary year of the founding of the firm was only 9 years away, when the owning company in 2007 arbitrarily dropped the use of the Haden name. So a landmark opportunity for a H&V firm that started in the reign of George IV to celebrate its 200th anniversary was killed off. 


This is the first example found of a Haden towel rail,
this one assembled using plain fittings.



George & James Haden were major installers of warm air stoves in Prisons, Gaols, and other Penal Institutions during the first half of Victoria's reign.

One such installation carried out between 1846 and 1848 is Springfield Gaol, now called HM Prison Chelmsford, in the county of Essex.

The Gaol was extensively remodelled between 1845 and 1848 to cater for the transition from the silent to the separate system of containing prisoners. One part of the rebuild involved enclosing the middle yard, making in into a central hall. A chapel was then built above the hall, and a basement was dug beneath. During this time the first heating system was installed. Before this time the cells were unheated with little or no ventilation.

An article printed in the Chelmsford Chronicle of December 1847 describes in some detail the new system of heating and ventilating the cells at all floor levels. An excerpt from this article is shown below.

A visit to the Wiltshire History Centre to research the Order Books of warm air stoves in the Haden Archive, found three entries for the supply of warm air stoves and Grilles to Springfield Gaol, Chelmsford.

The first entry is dated the 12th September 1846 for one stove in the
Female Wing,
two further stoves for the Debtors Wing, and a further
stove for the Drying Closet in
the Female Wing.  The total cost for this
heating equipment amounted to the sum of
£100 - 3s - 0d.

The second entry dated 19th February 1847 was a further two stoves
for the Main Wing, at the cost of £114 - 3s - 0d.

The third entry dated the 20th January 1848 is for a warm air apparatus,
hot water boiler and water storage cistern in the Reception Cells.

The now unused basement area of the remodelled prison buildings, was originally used as a kitchen for vegetable and food preparation, and an original oven with a large cast iron front plate which survives. The oven was installed circa 1880 to enable the Prison to be able to bake its own bread. 

The front plate of the oven is in
remarkably good condition considering its age and usage.

There is visual evidence that there used to be a second oven sited opposite the surviving one.

Hadens of Trowbridge supplied several items of cooking equipment for the Kitchen in addition to the bread oven.

2 - iron steam boilers

3 - cooking boilers  45, 40, 35 gallon capacity for preparing gruel and broth.

3 - coppers

2 - 45 gallon cast iron steamers for potatoes.

1 - large roasting oven.

Cast iron frame & stove top.

The kitchen equipment is shown in the drawings below.


Swinton House in the Scottish Borders is a category Grade A Listed building.
It was the residence of the Swinton family during the 19th Century with George and Anne Swinton being the owners from1839 to 1854. They had inherited the house in 1839 upon the death of Anne's father Samuel Swinton.

It is interesting to note in the Haden order book entry 1841 that the details of the warm air stove are in the name of Mrs Swinton. Samuel's widow Isabella remained in residence and is probably the Mrs Swinton referred to in the Haden order book entry. Samuel invested heavily in the house and it may be he planned the Haden heating system but after his death it was left to Isabella to actually organize having the heating system installed.

The house after a period of delapidation has recently undergone a renovation,
which is when the old Haden warm air stove still in situ in the basement
attracted the interest of the developer.

The Heritage Group were asked to provide any information and
date the Haden warm air stove.

A visit to the Haden archive held by the Wiltshire History Centre found an
entry in the warm air stove order books dated 1841.This 1841 date of
manufacture makes the stove a very early pattern by G & J Haden before
James retired in 1855. Every Haden warm air stove was given its own
unique number. This stove is numbered 541 which is a very early order
considering the Haden firm was only established in 1816. The firm
started to manufacture warm air stoves from about 1820.

       1841 Sept 25th                                             Mrs Swinton         Swinton House  Nr Duns     Berwick on Tweed
                                                                     A wrot iron stove           541                                 see G H letter 23rd
       Sent 15th Oct  £9 - 1s - 11d
       Hillier & May

This is the first example found in the UK with this style of wrought iron front plate
displaying top corner rose emblems.
All later cast iron front plates had the
distinctive Haden portico top section

This nameplate shows a Royal Warrant which must relate to
the stoves they installed at Windsor Castle for George IV 

The Haden stove provided warmed air to the lower floors
a system of ducts and grilles all of which were
removed during
the recent renovations. One exception was
a circular brass
floor grille of the punched louvre 'hit & miss'
pattern with
centre damper adjustment position.

The Ireland Connection
It was known that G N Haden & Sons Ltd opened a branch office in
Dublin - Republic of Ireland but it has been difficult to trace records of
any Contracts, drawings or correspondence. However recent
research by a Group Member has found an advertisement in
a 1925 Thom's trade directory. The business was named Haden
Engineering Co Limited for trading in Ireland.


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AUGUST  2004   updated June 2006 - latest update February 2013