Although the earliest known boiler was sold on 10th August 1903 to Messrs William Baker & Co., cabinet makers of No. 1, Broad Street, Oxford, its’ origins lay in the previous decade. In the mid-1890s, the firm developed and patented a cast-iron sectional steam boiler and it appears that this was the influence in developing the Quorn boiler. The name Quorn, as well as being a local village just south of Loughborough, is also the closely associated with fox-hunting. It is probably the later rather the former that the Quorn boiler is named after. This is for two reasons: firstly, a running fox logo appears on the front of each Quorn boiler; secondly, the firm also for a period produced two other boilers, the Belvoir and the Melton, names also closely associated with fox-hunting. The Belvoir and Melton boilers simply different sizes of the Quorn boiler; the Melton was the smallest; the Quorn the intermediate; the Belvoir was larger than the Quorn; whilst the very largest was simply referred to as ‘Extra Large’. However, from around 1910 all the models were simply referred to as The “Quorn”, although internally they were referred to as the small, medium, large and extra large models.
The Quorn boiler is a sectional boiler; as its’ name suggests, it consists of several cast-iron sections bolted together and sealed using gaskets. The front and back of the boiler are merely unique sections. Whilst sectional boilers had several advantages they also had several disadvantages. They were normally assembled on site, which allowed them to fit through smaller apertures than if it were a complete pre-assembled boiler. Internally they were relatively simple; instead of a complex arrangement of tubes they simply have a series of water passages. Water entered through the return socket/s at the foot of the boiler passing up the side and over the top of the fire and out through the flow socket/s at the top. One hole at the top and two at the bottom allowed water to pass from one section to the next. The sections were interchangeable, and were put together with Cast Iron Taper Nipples, and short bolts and, nuts. Multiple boiler configurations could be built by simply using a different number of sections. This allowed the firm to cast large numbers of the same components and when the customer ordered a particular size of boiler, it merely required selecting the correct number of sections from stock. The sectional approach also allowed the boiler configuration to change, within limits, after installation. If an incrementally larger boiler was required, another section was added and vice versa. Obviously, there were limits to how many alterations a boiler could sustain and very often new base plates, fronts and back sections were also required. In the event of a failure of one section, it was possible to dismantle the boiler and replace the section. On the down side, the boiler tended to suffer from leakages as the gaskets aged.
By 1910, the firm had developed five basic models and one variant (with the flue at the front instead of the rear), each available in a range of sizes depending upon the number of sections. There was obviously overlap in heat output between consecutive models; although basically the larger the model number the higher the heating power and the larger the footprint.
The firm used a simple yet effective naming convention, consisting of two numbers; the first was the model, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6; the second was the number of sections (the minimum was model dependent) to the boiler. Therefore, a No. 47 Quorn boiler was a model 4 with 7 sections (including the front and back).
Range of Quorn Boilers Gallery
The firm evidently perceived these boilers in their constitutional components rather than single boilers, certainly in their early life. Unlike the Loughborough boiler when they recorded the number of boilers sold, the Quorn boilers were recorded simply as the number of sections sold. In the period from 10th August 1903 to the end of June 1904, they sold 160 sections of the original Quorn boiler, valued at £386 6s. (nett). For the full year, up to the end of January, it was 329 sections, valued £785 6s. (nett). Over the following four years they totalled 408 (£929 1s. 2d. (nett)), 418 (935 1os. 3d. (nett), 394 (£948 2s. 4d. (nett)) and 473 (£1065 1s. 10d. (nett). They sold 54 Belvoir sections, valued at £227 4s. 9d. (nett) in the year ending 19th January 1905; 127 (£475 15s. 8d (nett) in the following year, then 166 (£634 8s. 10d. (nett)) the next year, then 218 (£866 11s. 5d. (nett)) followed by 90 ((£351 1s. 3d. (nett)) and 137 (£525 9s. 5d. (nett)) in the year ending 19th January 1910. For the Melton boiler the figures are 9 sections, valued at £9 (nett) in the year ending 19th January 1904. Over the next five years the figures were 238, 221, 367, 334, 382, and 413, valued (all nett) at £404 14s. 1d., £382 9s 9d., £592 11s. 4d., £604 1s. 10d., £684 6s. 2d. and £705 8s. 6d. respectively.
A few years after production commenced, the firm made some relatively minor modifications to the front of the boiler. In late October 1905, they changed the fire door, frame and inside plate for the 4-series model. At the end of October the following year they introduced a new fire door, frame and inside plate for the 5-series model, replacing these at the end of October 1910 with a new open front.
In 1910 they were producing five models 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. The 2-series had 5 versions 23 (with 3 sections) upto 27 (with 7 sections), capable of heating between 300 (23) and 700 (27) feet of 4-inch pipes. Similarly the 3-series had five versions (33-37) with the same heating capacity as the 2-series. The difference being that the 2-series had a flue at the rear, whilst the 3-series flue was at the front. The 4-series had seven versions, 44 (4 sections) through to 410 (10 sections), with a heating capacity ranging from 640 feet upto 1,720 feet. The 5-series had 8 versions, 55 to 512, capable of heating from 1,700 feet of 4-inch pipe upto 4,500 feet of pipe. The 6-series models, which appear to have been introduced after 1908, had 5 versions, 66 to 612, with the capability of heating between 4,300 and 7,700 feet of pipe.
By the mid-1920s, the firm were describing the boilers as the “cheapest, most economical, and simplest on the market”; having removed the 6-series from their product range, although adding two more versions to the 4-series, 411 and 412 (capable of heating 1,900 and 2,080 feet of 4-inch pipes).
By the mid-1930s a 7-series with 7 versions (76-712) was being offered, capable of heating from 3,400 and 7,600 feet of 4-inch pipe. The 2- and 3-series had one 3-inch flow socket and one 3-inch return socket, with a 6-inch smoke pipe. The 4-series had 1 or 2 4-inch flow sockets (44-48 had 1; 49-412 had 2); with 1, 2 or 4 4-inch return sockets (44 and 45 had 1; 46-49 had 2 and 410-412 had 4). Versions 44-47 had an 8-inch smoke pipe and versions 48-412 had a 9-inch smoke pipe. The 5-series again had either 1 or 2 4-inch flow sockets (55-58 had 1; 59-512 had 2); with 2 or 4 4-inch return sockets (55-59 had 1; 510-512 had 4); all had 12-inch smoke pipes. The 7-series had 1 or 2 5-inch flow sockets (76-77 had 1; 78-712 had 2) and 2 or 4 5-inch return sockets (76-77 had 2; 780-712 had 4); all had 15-inch smoke pipes. Obviously the boilers increased in size up the model range: the 2- and 3-series were 23 inches wide and between 18 and 42 inches long; the 4-series was 26 inches wide and between 24 inches and 72 inches long; the 5-series was 37½ inches wide and between 35 inches and 84½ inches long; the 7-series was 43 inches wide and between 55 and 111¼ inches long.
The Quorn boiler was not targeted at the same market as the Loughborough boiler. It was complementary and targeted at those who needed to heat larger areas, such as a range of horticultural structures, churches, schools, residences, shops, factories, etc.
One of the drawbacks of the low-pressure hot water heating system was that it essentially relied on gravity. However, when heating buildings, particularly those occupied by people (as opposed to plants), it was often found not to be responsive enough. Therefore, when faced with this situation, the firm tended install third-party pumps to increase the flow. The other problem, particularly on the larger models, was that they required regular stoking; this was overcome by installing third-party automatic stokers. The firm also ventured into oil firing instead of solid fuel with the use an oil burner attachment.
The firm continued casting sections into the 1960s, although by the late 1950s they have almost stopped selling complete boilers; the castings were generally used for repairs and replacements. The last known complete Quorn boiler was a No. 36, sold to an unknown customer on 14th November 1959.
Whilst many thousands were installed, only one is still known to remain in situ and this hasn’t worked for many years. This is in comparison with one of the firm’s closest competitors, the Beeston Boiler Company whose Robin Hood boilers that still exists in their hundreds, if not thousands.
No. 44 Quorn Boiler
No. 56 Quorn Boiler
- Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/56. ↑
- 1895-24724: Improvements in Sectional Water-tube Steam Boilers. ↑
- Heating Catalogue. ↑
- Ibid. ↑
- 5th Edition Catalogue. ↑
- 1925 Boilers, Hot Water Pipes & Connectors, Radiators, Ventilating Tackle &c. Catalogue. ↑
- 1937 Boilers, Hot Water Pipes & Connectors, Radiators, Ventilating Tackle &c. Catalogue. ↑
- Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/62. ↑