Frames are probably the simplest of the horticultural structures. In their simplest form, they are merely a sloping box, normally constructed of wood around the sides with glazed wooden lights on top. Sizes varied enormously, dependent upon the requirements of the customer. Typically at the time that Thomas Messenger was active, these individual simple structures were often designed to be portable and were about 8ft. or 12ft. long and 6ft. wide, around 13in. to 15in. high at the front rising to 16in. to 24in. at the rear. A 12ft. frame size would normally have three 4ft. glazed lights, which simply slid off to allow access. The lights were typically glazed with 21oz. sheet glass, normally in four or five panes across the light. This sort of arrangement would allow almost any length of frame to be set-up, with or without partitions between the sections. Where the structure were intended to be permanent than the sides, front and back were normally constructed of brick instead of wood.
A typical use of these ‘lean-to’ shaped frames was against the front of a greenhouse or other structure. Here the lights could simply be opened either by sliding down or hinging against the top plate. This arrangement allowed the frames to be heated easily by extending the low-pressure hot-water pipes from the greenhouse into the frame.
A more complex version of the frame utilised a span roof, normally with lights hinged along the ridge and some form of stay to permit the hinged lights to be held open. Occasionally ¾-span roof frames were used, these had the advantage of giving more height that a standard frame but took up less room that the span roof frames. Dependent upon the hinging mechanism deployed it was possible that the light could be raised and turned over to rest on the other side of the span.
Thomas Messenger provided large quantities of frames varying from the very small up to the very large.