1859 is the first known definitive reference to Thomas Messenger’s horticultural structures and that was nearly half-way through the year, when he placed an advertisement in 21st May edition of The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette. This was for his yet unpatented division-less building, which he described as:-

“ventilated with screw mechanism by which the top or front lights are opened the entire length of the house momentarily, do not fail to give complete satisfaction (as numerous Testimonials can show) for the following reasons: – They are much lighter in appearance, more durable, much stronger, and cheaper than any other can possible be”.

This advertisement is fascinating for a number of reasons. Firstly, he apparently places the emphasis on the horticultural building being “divisionless”. Secondly, he recognises the importance of the ventilation system being capable of the opening the lights along the complete length of the structure. Thirdly, the advertisement clearly indicates that he had already installed numerous buildings and therefore to have obtained “numerous testimonials” would imply he must have installed ‘a fair number’. He must have also been fully satisfied with not only the integrity of his design but also with his capability and capacity to build and install these structures; in addition to having able the necessary customer support processes and infrastructure in place. Fourthly, he placed importance in providing products that were seen as being well made but cheap, a recurring theme in his advertisements over the forthcoming years.

The 21st May advertisement also included a section on his boiler, which he interestingly described it having had three years’ trial, presumably meaning the three years since it was introduced. The advertisement also added, “…a great number of houses can be heated at once with this Boiler, with the facility of heating any separately”.

Advertisement – The Gardeners’ Chronicle & Agricultural Gazette, 21 May 1859

Similar to his patent applications, he also appears to have adopted a different description of himself, in his advertisements depending upon the products he was trying to promote. In the May advertisement mentioned when advertising his horticultural buildings and heating systems, he described himself as a “Horticultural Builder, Patent Hot-Water and Garden Engine Manufacturer”. Whilst at the same time in a series of local advertisements[1], he described his works as “Plumbing, Glazing and Gas-fitting and General Horticultural Works”, which no doubt was the correct emphasis. Here his target audience was the local inhabitants of Loughborough and its Neighbourhood, where he was promoting an eclectic range of products, including his patented triangular tubular boiler, which was described as capable of heating any building and his “simple, durable, powerful and cheap” garden engine, “of which several are now ready for the season”. However, the advertisement drew specific attention to his registered deep well pump, which he described as “worthy of notice to those labouring under the difficulty of obtaining water from the ordinary principles, and those who only have draw wells. Its cost is 50 per cent., less than any other, and it is worked with the ease of a common pump. In many cases a new Pump could be fixed for the old material. Several of these Pumps are now at work, one of which is fixed in a well 144 feet deep, giving entire satisfaction; the two ordinary principles had been tried and failed”. Besides running the plumbing, glazing, horticultural buildings and heating businesses, he also had a gas-fitting business alongside. He was also an agent for D. Hulett and Co.’s[2], patent gas regulator[3] describing it as “an economical and almost indispensable requisite to gas consumers”. Almost as a throwaway comment at the end of the local advertisement it mentions that he would be willing to provide testimonials and references regarding vineries, etc., that he had erected and hot water apparatus that he had installed.

Advertisement – The Loughborough Monitor, 23 June 1859

Exhibitions and Local Work

During the summer of 1859, Thomas Messenger was actively promoting his products. In July, he attended the second Loughborough Floral and Horticultural Society Fete, held on grounds adjoining the Grammar and Commercial School, where he exhibited a number of products including a forcing house, greenhouse and garden engine[4].

Advertisement – The Gardeners’ Chronicle & Agricultural Gazette, 28 May 1859

In March 1859, he was appointed glazier to the Local Board of Health for the 1859 financial year[5]. However, he decided not to tender for the twelve-month contract, for “lighting, extinguishing, cleaning, repairing and painting the public lamps”, which he had previously lost out to Mr. Fisher. This time around there were only two tenders, one from Mr. Fisher at £88 and the other from Mr. David Moore[6] at £80, with the latter being awarded the contract[7].

  1. The Loughborough Monitor and General Advertiser for North-West Leicestershire, 26th May 1859; 4th August 1859; 17th November 1859.

  2. Nos. 55-56, High Holborn, London.

  3. The regulator prevented fluctuating gas pressure, resulting in a more even flow with a steady flame. In consequent it proved more economic. The regulator was fixed to the gas-main and consisted of a valve attached to a spindle heavily weighted, with the joints being immersed in mercury thus preventing the danger of evaporation which might arise if water was used as a seal.

  4. The Loughborough Monitor, 21st July 1859.

  5. The Nottinghamshire Guardian, 24th March 1859.

  6. A plumber, etc., trading out of premises in Swan Street, Loughborough

  7. The Loughborough Monitor, 11th August 1859.