The History Of Radiators

Wed 26th Jun 2013 - 10:41am Radiators The History Of Radiators

Benjamin Clarke

When it comes to interior design, choosing the right radiators is now considered as important as choosing other items of furniture in the home. They are no longer just a means to keep warm; they no longer have a single utilitarian purpose. Many buyers are keen to buy radiator which will become a feature of the home. Be that in a traditional period style, or a more contemporary design.

Unsurprisingly, heating has evolved over its long life span. The Romans were the first to use central heating to warm their villas in the colder months. They based this on a furnace which heated air and this air was then conducted through certain points in the floors. Similar systems were also used in Korea from the Bronze Age. By 1700 Russian engineers (Faced with months of sub-zero winters) began designed water based systems for central heating. Steam heating systems were then developed and installed in the 1830’s in England. The first of which was installed in the home of the Governor of the Bank of England, John Horley Palmer, so that he could grow grapes in England’s cold climate!

The Inventor of the Modern Radiator

As we embark on a more historical journey, we learn that there are a number of people who have claimed to have invented the radiator as we know it today. Evidence points to the birth dating sometime around the mid-19th century. Franz San Galli, a Polish-born Russian businessman, invented an early form of radiator between 1855-1857, and two distinguished inventors, Joseph Nason and Robert Brigss, also designed and produced a similar model using vertical wrought iron tubes screwed into a cast iron base in 1863.Then in 1872, Nelson H Bundy came up with the “Bundy Loop”, a popular cast iron radiator design that is still reflected in products we see today.

The single most important period for heating development is without doubt the Victorian era. This is when the radiator was transformed from not only a practical item but also an item of decoration. Cast iron radiators were the favorite choice at the time. However, in saying that, with regards to the era of most importance, it was not until the 20th century that central heating systems were more commonplace in homes, warranting a higher demand. The 1970’s and the boost in central heating in homes witnessed an increase in the UK manufacture of steel heaters, supporting the British steel trade even when aluminum heaters were most prevalent on the continent.

As interior fashions changed, radiators fell out of fashion. They were painted over, boxed and hidden. Cast iron was considered too bulky and steel ones were too ugly. The 21st century, however, has witnessed the revival of radiators and once again they have become a popular feature in our homes. Cast iron remains popular; partly due to the fact they remain warm long after the heating has been turned off, providing a constant, gentler heat. Today’s trend of restoring period houses has also led to the cast iron radiator boom, a feature which now takes pride of place in many homes.

Cast iron radiators are available today either reclaimed or reproduced. Reclaimed have been salvaged from older buildings whereas reproductions are new, but have been cast from original designs. Both options have seen a boom in popularity over the last decade. Whether they are classic Victorian designs or a modern sleek design, they serve not only to provide heat, but aesthetic pleasure.

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