Post Second World War Summer Houses and Conservatories

Not to be confused with the grand conservatories produced in the late nineteenth century, the range of summer houses and conservatories introduced in the 1950s can at best be described as functional and at worst as just plain awful.

They developed a rather wretched looking summer house, which appeared to have been derived from the pent roofed weather-boarded garden shed, albeit with one side wall removed, two small unglazed opening inserted on each side and a tongue and grooved floor inserted. The overall appearance is reminiscent of a small wooden bus shelter, albeit without a bench seat.

Along similar lines were two models of utilitarian conservatory, which bears no comparison with the extremely elaborate, even ornate bespoke conservatories of sixty or seventy years earlier.

One model had a shallow angle lean-to roof, covered in what appears to be corrugated asbestos and the other had a flat roof, probably covered with sanded felt.

Both models were constructed of light weight wooden framing and large expanses of glass, with double inward opening central doors, sitting on a low weather-boarded base at the front and higher at the sides. In some ways, the appearance is not too dissimilar to the metal framed conservatories from a slightly later period. However, the firm didn’t use large single panes of glass stretching from top to bottom, having instead to make do with three or four panes, with horizontal glazing bars, which broke-up the appearance, giving it a tawdry look. This may have been because the wooden framing wasn’t strong enough or glass of a sufficient size was unavailable.

How many of this style of conservatory the firm sold is difficult to determine, although there are several known examples from the late 1950s[1].

One of the earliest appears to have been sold to one of the firms’ own employees Mr. S. Hopewell who lived on Leicester Road, Shepshed. He purchased an unfixed sectional 14ft. 3in. (approx.) x 6ft. 4in. (approx.) sectional conservatory with 4in. cast iron half-round gutters and down pipe. He paid a £10 deposit, when ordered on 23rd February 1953, with the balance of £35 5s. to be paid off at £1 per week, or in-full as or when the opportunity arose[2].

On 30th September, 1957, a Mr. R. Green, of No. 6, Cheltenham Road, Leicester purchased an 8ft. 9in. x 7ft. 9in. lean-to in untreated cedar. The base price was £67 10s., although fixing and glazing added an additional £14 10s. Repositioning the door cost an additional £7 5s. resulting in a total price of £89 5s., for which the customer agreed to paid half on completion and the remainder within six months[3].

 

1960 Conservatory

Despite the move into the lower end of the conservatory market, they were still producing bespoke structures based upon a more classical approach. One such structure was built in 1957 for Mrs. C.H. Mills, of the High Street, Amersham, Buckinghamshire. This was a 14ft. x 12ft. span roofed attached conservatory built on a low brick wall, with patent top light openings to both sides of the roof. There was a simple ball finial positioned at the end of the roof, above the external single door. The side windows, reminiscent of those produced by the firm at the beginning of the twentieth century, were hinged about two-thirds the way up and operated using a standard, although long, stays. Each had a row of 3 or 4 small panes (4 along the sides and 3 along the front), ending adjacent to the hinges (for those windows that opened). Sun blinds were fitted to both sides of the roof, below the opening lights. The firm fitted ogee style rainwater gutters along both sides.

 

Amersham Convervatory

References:

  1. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE 2121/45.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.