1859 Patent

The 1859 patent, No. 1777, entitled “Improvements in the Construction of Buildings or Erections to be used for Horticultural or other Purposes” introduced the concept of using thinner and lighter rafters supported by tension rods It also introduced the concept of being able to open a complete run of top or front lights simultaneously, by the use of iron mullions and a continuous chain attached to a wheel, which operated a screw mechanism:

My Invention consists, in the first place, in the use or employment of light rafters in lieu strong ones, and in supporting the same with a tensive rod; secondly, in making the entire length of a building without a division and, thirdly, in the use or employment of apparatus for opening any part of a building or erection the entire length at once, which said apparatus consists in part at least of two wheels; to one wheel a handle is attached and fixed in any convenient place for working the same, and to the other wheel a screw and rods are attached; a chain is made to revolve round the two wheels which turn a screw, from which motion is given to the rods attached to parts of the building to be opened and which by these means can be either opened or closed at pleasure.

Annotated figure from Thomas Messenger’s 1859 patent No 1777.
Annotated figure from Thomas Messenger’s 1859 patent No 1777.
Annotated figure from Thomas Messenger’s 1859 patent No 1777.


The patent submission offered three claims:

First, the employment or application of light rafters instead of strong ones, such light rafters being supported by tensive rods.

Secondly, the construction of the entire length of the building or erection without a division, as herein-before described.

Thirdly, the employment and application of the apparatus constructed and operating in the manner herein-before described for opening or closing any part of the building or erection.

This patent formed, with later modification and improvements, the basis of Messenger & Co.’s patent horticultural structures for around the following one hundred years.