Blinds

Whilst Thomas Messenger provided greenhouse or conservatory blinds to customers, who either requested or required them, they appear not to have been a mainstream product line.

Between 1867 until 1874 only fourteen examples are known of him quoting for or supplying blinds. Nearly all his blinds appear to be of the roller type attaching to the roof ridge and running down the roof to provide shade.

The first known record is in June 1867, when Mr. T. Goudby of Bosworth House, Hinckley, Leicestershire requested an estimate for a new heated 32ft. by 19ft. structure, alterations to one or more existing houses. The estimate also included two 32ft. long rollers for blinds for the new house and one 15ft. long for one of the existing houses. No other details are noted except that the two for the new structure cost 7s 6d. each and the other 8s.

The next was almost a year later in May 1868, when he quoted for a set of roller blinds to August Clarke, a grocer, of North Street, Loughborough. It is unclear as to whether these rollers were for a greenhouse, conservatory or for the grocer’s shop. However, it does list all the components, together with their prices. Firstly there was 24 feet of rollers at 2½d. per foot; two wooden pulleys at 1s. 6d. each; two iron pulleys at 1s. each; cords, etc at 3s.; 25 yards of blind material at 10d. per yard; rings and the making of the blinds was 5s. with an additional £1 1s. 2d. to cover preparation and fixing. The latter was probably at least partially contrived as it gave the customer a neat and rounded estimate of £3.

Another more detailed component list exists for Charles Augustus Johnson of Witham Hall, Witham on the Hill, Lincolnshire who in July 1868, purchased a set of four roller blinds for his vineries that Thomas Messenger had completed. The list contains, what appear at the time to be, standard components employed for all his roller blinds.

  • 3-inch diameter rollers, priced at 3d. per foot.
  • Pulley wheels that were normally fixed to the ridge top, priced at 5d. or 6d. each
  • Wood pulley wheels for the end of the rollers, priced at 1s. each
  • Cord fasteners priced at 3d. each
  • Various screws, leather, nails, etc., typically priced as a group, normally 15s.-20s.
  • Brass rings and hooks typically priced as a group, normally around 10s.
  • Length of cord, priced at 1d. per yard.
  • Blind material, price at 1¼d. per superficial foot (plain material) and 1¾d. per superficial foot (striped material).

On occasions, additional material was required including –

  • Lengths of chain.
  • Lengths of ¾-inch iron weights for the bottom of the blinds.
  • Wheel frames and wheels.
  • Various bearers.
  • Single and/or double rod clasps.

Cutting and sewing the blinds was charged at an all-in price of between 7s.-10s.; whilst actually making up the roller blinds and fixing them was charged separately at a number of day’s effort (always whole days), priced at 5s-5s. 6d. per day. Carriage and expenses, etc., were always charged as an additional item.

From 1871, Thomas Messenger adopted a more simplistic pricing structure; instead of a component pricing approach he moved to an ‘all in’ price simply based upon size of blinds, measured in superficial feet. In this approach, he charged 2½d. or 2¾d. per superficial foot for plain blinds and 3d. for striped. Where blinds formed part of a larger order no additional carriage charge was applied. However, where blinds were the only item ordered carriage charges were applied. One such example was Edmund Hannay Watts of Devonhurst, Duke’s Avenue, Chiswick, London, who, in February 1872, ordered three sets of blinds in plain material; one measuring 32ft. by 14ft. for a plant house roof and two measuring 50ft. by 7ft. for a forcing house roof. The three blinds priced at £13 3s. were subject to an additional £1 5s. carriage.

By 1874, Thomas Messenger had increased his prices to 3d. per superficial foot for plain material blinds, although like many other of his products he was adding a surcharge, in the case of blinds this was 20 per cent.

Only one of example is known of Thomas Messenger providing blinds for a conservatory and that was in early 1874 for Thomas Cordes of Bryn Glas House, Brynglas Road, Malpas, Monmouthshire. The roller blinds which measured 220 superficial feet were made of plain material to fit the front, end and roof of the south-facing part of the conservatory. These were priced at 3¼d. per superficial foot. In addition, he provided a 32ft. length of narrow pelmet curtain, so as to hide the top of the roller blinds, priced at 8d. per linear ft. Lastly, a 203 superficial foot blind to be fitted to part of the conservatory roof partly roller, partly held by a series of hooks and rings and priced at 2¾d. per superficial foot