1876 – Floral World and Garden Guide

In  January 1876, a year after the new company was formed, an article appeared in the Floral World and Garden Guide reviewing the firm’s product rage; this was presumably as a result of receiving a new catalogue. It appears that the firm was probably keen to promote it’s relative longevity, something the article also undertook, attributing their designs to the new firm rather than the previous owner Thomas Messenger.


THE system of building fruit and plant-houses, invented some years since by Messrs. Messenger and Co., Midland Horticultural Building and Hot-water Engineering Works, Loughborough, has so fully realized the anticipations of the inventors, and satisfied the requirements of cultivators, that we shall be doing good service to our readers by giving a brief description of the principles on which their houses are built. We would say, first of all, that although their structures differ in principle from those of other builders


there is nothing fanciful about them, to give them a heavy, cumbersome appearance. Neither are they so light that they look as if a puff of wind would blow them down. The inventors appear, in working out their system, to have been fully alive to the importance of strength, elegance, and simplicity in the construction of hot house?, and they have certainly succeeded in combining these important qualities in a remarkably happy manner. They have also succeeded in reducing the first cost in construction, without any diminution in strength and durability, which is a very important matter; for, unless glass houses are durable, they will be found to be very dear, no matter


how cheap they may be erected, for they will be in constant need of repairs, and not last, perhaps, half so long as they should do.

The chief point in the method of construction of Messrs. Messenger’s horticultural buildings consists in a combination of wood and iron. The


woodwork is trussed, and earned on an improved form of interior iron-work, which takes all the strain off the wood; and by this arrangement it is possible to obtain an even greater degree of strength with smaller woodwork than is usually employed in the erection of really substantial structures. This is a direct gain, for, by the employment of smaller timbers the cost is reduced, the durability is greater, and, as the houses are lighter, they have a more elegant appearance, and are better adapted for cultural purposes, for the


plants and fruits grown in them are more fully exposed to the beneficial action of the light. They are also less costly to maintain in repair, for the surface of wood to be painted is very small, and the ironwork is arranged so that should a rafter or ridge sink through the


ground settling in any part, a few turns of a nut by the gardener will set them right. The houses, in fact, are more durable, and less heavy in appearance than those constructed wholly of wood, and free from the disadvantages attached to iron houses, such as an excessive radiation of heat, and expansion and contraction of the bars, usually resulting in a large breakage of glass. Houses designed as ” tenants’ fixtures,” that can be removed by the tenant on the expiration of the tenancy, are also constructed on the same principles as those of a permanent character, differing only in their portability.

The system of ventilating horticultural structures patented by the Messrs. Messenger is quite unequalled in its way for efficiency and simplicity. By a very simple arrangement, the turning of a small handle, fixed at one end, or in the centre of the house, the whole of the ventilators, from one end to the other, can be instantly opened to any desired extent, and as quickly closed again. This system of ventilation applies to top and side ventilators alike, and may be fixed to existing structures.

Messrs. Messenger have also introduced a boiler of their own invention, which combines the good qualities of the saddle and upright forms ; and it has been found so thoroughly satisfactory, that it has attained an immense popularity, and there are now upwards of 3000 fixed in different parts of the country. It may be had of any size, heating from 300 to 3000 feet of four-inch piping.

Messenger’s Elastic-jointed Pipes are an immense improvement on those of ordinary manufacture, for, as the pipes are joined together with nuts and screws, an apparatus can be fixed in a tithe of the time required in fixing an apparatus when the joints are made with yarn and red lead or iron filings ; consequently, a considerable saving of labour is effected—a matter of no small importance at the present time. But their chief value consists in the fact, that a small apparatus can be taken down and refixed in a few hours, without injury to the pipes. With pipes fixed in the ordinary way, it is very difficult and laborious work to refix a few pipes, because of the difficulty experienced in taking out the packing of the joints, and in removing this the joints are often broken, and the pipes rendered useless. But with the elastic joints it is only necessary to turn a few screws to separate the pipes or put them together again. We consider them of the highest value, for, with the assistance of an intelligent labourer, the amateur may, if so disposed, fix the pipes without the assistance of skilled workmen. Accompanying these remarks are a few illustrations of the simpler forms of structures erected in various parts of the country by this firm. These have been selected as alike suited to the requirements of the amateur and the practical gardener, for each of the structures is well adapted for the purpose for which it has been designed.