Central heating radiators are essentially vessels that transfer heat from the hot water circulating within them, to the surrounding air. Simple lengths of cast iron pipe represented the earliest method of hot water and steam central heating.
These pipes were most commonly found in Victorian horticultural buildings owing to the vast array of imported tropical plants of the time requiring warmer climates to thrive.
The Palm House at Kew gardens was built during the 1840’s and incorporated hot water heating using cast iron pipes to radiate the heat…
These pipes were large and cumbersome and as such, did not lend themselves to heating more restricted areas of public and residential spaces so well. Methods to coil these pipes up using elbow joints to increase the pipe length whilst saving space came next, but remained unsightly and bulky.
Pipe coils enabled greater output within a given space but remained cumbersome…
Box end pipe coils using lengths of pipe caulked into upright cast iron manifolds with rope yarn further reducing the overall size of the apparatus followed. These ‘box end’ radiators proved labour intensive to construct on site, often required radiator covers and as such required more maintenance due to restricted access. They preceded the radiator as we now know it.
Box end coil invented by Walter Jones in 1876…
Radiators made specifically began to appear around 1880 and saved space due to the increased surface area of their more complex designs enabled by ever improving foundry techniques.
Bundy Standard Two Row Radiator designed for water and steam featuring in the A.A. Griffing Iron Co. USA 1894 catalogue…
Though they represented a huge step forward from the pipe coils, they remained restrictive due to their somewhat predetermined sizes. Some early designs comprised of manifolds joined by vertical columns enabling greater choice in terms of size, however, the introduction of sectional radiators gave the industry the flexibility it needed to fulfil any application with ease.
The introduction of Sectional cast iron radiators was an American phenomenon which gathered pace around the turn of the century despite the idea having been patented some years prior. Three prevalent American manufacturers combined forces and formed the American Radiator Company which became the largest manufacturer of cast iron radiators in the world demonstrating mass production at its best.
The Princess Radiator manufactured by the Beeston Boiler Company, Nottinghamshire…In 1904, they presented themselves in Europe trading as The National Radiator Company, the UK factory alone covering many acres of Hull. The Beeston Boiler Company of Nottinghamshire were the next largest makers of sectional radiators in this country having specialised in the homegrown manufacture of horticultural buildings and heating apparatus for many decades, under their previous name, Foster and Pearson Est. 1841. The aforementioned manufacturers prevailed in the production of sectional radiators in Britain from the beginning of the 20th Century.
Production of cast iron radiators began to wane during the 1950s in favour of pressed steel radiators but has, of course, experienced a revival since the turn of this new century.