Despite deciding not to tender for the contract in 1859, he obviously changed his mind in 1860. Whilst he submitted the lowest tender of £78 for “lighting, extinguishing, cleansing, repairing and painting the public lamps… for a twelve month period[1], he once again lost out to Mr. Fisher who tendered £80, with Mr. David Moore tendering £92 10s. Obliviously unpleased with the decision, Thomas Messenger subsequently wrote a letter to the Local Board of Board, presumably complaining that despite being the lowest tender, he was not awarded the contract. Whilst the letter was referred to the Lighting Committee[2], it appears to have been disregarded and nothing came of it.


Five Trades or Departments

At the same as he was tendering for work for maintaining the towns’ gas lighting, he was running advertisements[3] in the local press for his full range of trades which he termed “departments”:

  1. Plumbing
  2. Glazing
  3. Gas fitting
  4. Heating
  5. Horticultural

He was essentially still advertising to the local community of Loughborough and its’ environs, emphasising what he believed to be his two most important selling points – workmanship and price.

When considered in combination, these five departments appear to be disparate set of trades and skills. However, it was common practice at the time to combine plumbing and glazing as a trade, often together with gas fitting. At the time there were five Loughborough-based businesses trading as plumbers and glaziers, three of which (including Thomas Messenger) were also gas fitters. By combining five trades, Thomas Messenger was presumably able to differentiate from his competitors by providing a wider range of services and products than would be true if the business only had one or two trades.

In his plumbing department advertisement he was offering “…Water Closets, Common and Force pumps, T.G.M’s Registered pumps for deep wells, Baths, Ditto supplied with cold and hot water, Taps, Beer Engines, Spirit Fountains, T.G.M’s Patent Garden or Fire Engines , Roofs, Spouts, &c”. In his glazing department, he was offering “every kind of Glass suitable for its situation, at the lowest prices. Glass always in stock for Fanlights, Skylights, Door, Picture Frames, &c., Tiles, Slates, Propagating and Cucumber Glasses, Fern Shades, &c”.

The gas-fitting department was offering work described as “neatly, cheaply, and properly executed, either with elaborately designed or common Fittings, suitable for Mansions, Shops, Cottages, Factories, &c.”

The heating department was offering “Horticultural Buildings, Churches, Chapels, Schools, Warehouses, or any other Building Heated with hot water by T.G.M’s Patented and Warranted Boiler Pipes, fixed in Factories, &c., to heat the same with steam. Steamers, Steam Closets, or Hot Plates attached to Range Boilers”.

Finally, the horticultural department offered “Cheap and substantial Hot Houses, Vineries, Greenhouses, Conservatories re-erected and ventilated on a new and patented principle, Pits, Cucumber Frames, Hand Glasses, &c.

Five Department Advertisement – The Loughborough Monitor, 9 August 1860

Early Customers

The 1860 advertisement also, for the first time, mentioned specific customers, who unsurprisingly were all dignitaries living within a relatively short distance of Loughborough.

The list included William Perry Herrick of Beaumanor Park; Edward Warner of Quorndon Hall; Edward Chatterton Middleton[4], of The Grove, Loughborough; William Mundy of Markeaton Hall, Derby; Revd. R. Eddie, Upper Broughton Rectory, Nottinghamshire; Messrs White, Loughborough.

Reference to other early customers is also made in Thomas Messenger’s 1870 catalogue ‘Horticultural Buildings, Hot Water and Hydraulic Appliances’. Here he included a number of testimonials relating to installations between 1858 and 1860. These testimonials are generally from customers, their gardeners or their agents, some from further afield than those included in the 1860 advertisement include Rev. C. Evans of Blackwall, near Wirksworth, Derbyshire; Mr. Maunsell of Thorpe Malsor Hall, Northamptonshire; Pryse Loveden, Gogerddan, near Aberystwyth; J. Martin, Whatton House, Long Whatton, Leicestershire.


William Perry Herrick, Beaumanor Park


Beaumanor Park – 1884 OS Map

William Perry Herrick (1794-1876), was a wealthy landowner who lived at Beaumanor Park, Woodhouse, a few miles south of Loughborough. Thomas Messenger had obviously taken on a number of contracts for Mr. Herrick, over the preceding years, because in April 1859, Mr. Henry Humphreys, steward to Mr. Herrick, wrote the following testimonial, included in Thomas Messenger’s 1870 catalogue:

Sir – I am requested by Mr. Herrick to inform you of the satisfaction you have given in the numerous undertakings which you have so effectively executed upon the Beaumanor Estate during the last nine years: to enumerate some of them, I should mention the heating of the Melon pits in the Garden; the Heating of the Church at Woodhouse, with the use of your Patented Boiler, which is most effective, with the least consumption of fuel possible; and the supply of water to the Farm Buildings and Cottages in the village of Woodhouse is now working as well as it did the first day it was executed. I can with much satisfaction and pleasure recommend you to any gentleman requiring similar works…

Beaumanor Hall, which still stands, was purchased by Leicestershire County Council in the 1970s and is currently used as a Conference and Education Centre. It was built in the 1840s, on the site of an earlier, although smaller property, owned by William Herrick, also known as Beaumanor Hall.

The testimonial is interesting for several reasons. Firstly, it implies that Thomas Messenger was personally involved in the business from around 1850, presumably, from when his uncle, Joseph Gains, died. Secondly, it implies that Thomas Messenger installed two boilers, one to heat the melon pit and another to heat the church, although there is no explicit reference to Thomas Messenger having built the melon pit.

In 1867 and 1868, Thomas Messenger undertook further work for Mr. Herrick, which included providing glass for the Dining Room and 26oz. patterned and stained glass for the Drawing Room.

In the second half of the 1870s, Messenger & Co. undertook extensive work in the kitchen gardens, which were located about half a mile southeast of the Hall, on the opposite side of a country road leading to Woodhouse. The garden was about two acres in size, enclosed in a brick wall varying between 12ft. and 18ft. high[5]. Here they erected a number of structures, including, a 100ft. by 16ft. lean-to range, partitioned into three houses: one for growing peaches and nectarines, another used as a vinery to grow Black Hamburg and the third as a late house, for grapes, etc.. They also erected a 40ft. by 20ft. range, a 40ft. by 12ft. vinery, 90ft. by 12ft. pine pits and an 85ft. by 10ft. peach house[6]. The gardens remained until after the 1960s[7] by which time it was in use as a nursery. The site was subsequently flattened and replaced by a small housing development, known as Beaumanor Gardens.


Edward Warner, Quorndon (Quorn) Hall


Quorndon Hall – 1884 Ordnance Map

Quorndon, now known as Quorn, lies a few miles SSE of Loughborough and the Hall, which still stands, lies to the west of the village, near the River Soar. Edward Warner (-1894) was a partner in Cartwright & Warner, spinners and manufacturers of Angola hosiery, who at the time had a factory in Loughborough[8]. Thomas Messenger also undertook work for the firm in Loughborough, during the mid-1860s. A decade later Messenger & Co., undertook work for them at their Nottingham Road site.

Prior to March 1859, Thomas Messenger installed a pair of heated vineries and pits, for which Edward Warner wrote the following testimonial[9]:

Mr T. G. Messenger has erected for me a pair of Vineries and two Pits, and heated the Vineries and one of the Pits with one of his Triangular Tubular Boilers, each can be heated. separately, or the whole together. He has also supplied me with one of his Patent Garden Engines, the whole of which he has done in a very satisfactory manner, and I can recommend him for the carrying out of any similar work with confidence. I can also, as far as my experience goes, speak with confidence to the superiority of his patents.

A group of horticultural buildings existed just to the south-west of the Hall well into the twentieth century.

Conservatory erected for E. Warner, Quorndon Hall, attached to side of house. “The octagonal entrance is especially effective, being the approach to the residence” – 1870 Catalogue.

Following the death of Edward Warner in 1894, Messenger & Co., undertook work for his son, Edward Handley Warner. They also undertook work in 1910 and 1911; firstly rebuilding a stove house and secondly building a new glass roof carriage-washing shed.

Quorndon Hall – 1903 Ordnance Map


William Mundy, Markeaton Hall, Derby

Markeaton Hall – 1901 OS Map

The 18th century Markeaton Hall, which originally stood about a mile WNW of Derby city centre, was demolished in the 1964, leaving only the Orangery and stable yards. William Mundy (1801-1877) who owned the Hall was Member of Parliament for South Derbyshire from 1849 to 1859 and again from 1859 to 1865.

Thomas Messenger installed a heated vinery for Mr. Mundy, for which he received the following testimonial from Mr. Mundy himself, dated 12th April 1858[10]:

SIR – I beg to assure you that I am quite satisfied with the Vinery which you erected for me here. Your principle of heating is a good one, being very conducive to economy of fuel…

In the 1880s a set of horticultural buildings, presumably in the kitchen garden lay to the north-west of the Hall. Some of which survived well into the twentieth century. Whilst Thomas Messenger appears not to have undertaken anymore work at the Hall, Messenger & Co., were engaged, including in 1904, when they built an orangery with two curved domes, for Mrs. Mundy[11]. However, this is not the orangery (conservatory) that remains, which was possibly designed by Joseph Pickford of Derby and built in the late 18th century[12].


Edward Chatterton Middleton, The Grove, Loughborough


Edward Chatterton Middleton was a partner in the banking firm of Middleton, Cradock and Middleton with offices in The Market Place, Loughborough. He lived at The Grove, Ashby Road, Loughborough, which was built about 1830 by his father, William Middleton.

The Grove, Ashby Road Loughborough – 1886 OS Map

The exact nature of the work undertaken by Thomas Messenger at this time is undocumented. However, despite being a prominent member of Loughborough society, Edward Middleton, who was High Sherriff of Leicestershire in 1857, only appears to have engaged Thomas Messenger on one further occasion. That was in the second half of 1874, just prior to Thomas Messenger selling his business, when he provided heating (including 20 yards of 2-inch hot-water pipe, 12 cement joints, although no boiler) to an existing pit at a cost of £4 15s.

The following August, Messenger & Co., installed two 16ft. long heated plant protectors, again with no boiler. Unless Mr. Middleton purchased his heating boiler from another supplier, it is possible that the undertaken around 1860 included installation of one of Thomas Messenger’s triangular tubular boilers.

Edward Chatterton Middleton died on 19th July 1878, aged 68, at home[13], he had not been well for a few months, following the sudden death of his wife from bronchitis, a few months earlier[14].

Within a few weeks of Mr. Middleton’s death, the Middleton, Cradock and Middleton Bank, which was established in 1790, failed with gross liabilities of £183,908 2s. 11d. and assets of only £148,637 2s.[15]. As a result, The Grove, along with the rest of Edward Middleton’s estate was sold off in 15 lots, on 27th July 1880. The Grove described as a “Mansion House” sat in over 4 acres of land, with stabling, entrance lodge, paddock, ornamental grounds and plantations[16]. It was purchased by Edward Parkinson White, a partner in the firm of Cartwright and Warners, who was then living at No. 28 Sparrow Hill, Loughborough[17].

It was subsequently owned by William Frederick Beardsley, a solicitor. When offered for sale in September 1910, it was again described as a “Mansion House” with entrance lodge, coach house, conservatories, gardens, tennis grounds and paddock, in a little over 4 acres[18]. In 1922, it was purchased by Loughborough College, for £3,500, opening it three years later as a hall of residence. Today (2015) it is still used as a hall of residence, known as Harry French Court[19], with the gardens have made way for numerous residential blocks.



Messrs White, Loughborough



White’s Hosiery Factory, Wood Gate, Loughborough – 1884 OS Map

Messrs Francis & William Edward White were hosiery manufacturers with premises in Wood Gate, Loughborough, just around the corner from Thomas Messenger’s own workshops. He undertook several contracts for the Company over the following 15 years; all factory or warehouse heating related.

Magistrates’ Court and Prison Cells, Loughborough


Old Magistrate’s Court and Police Station, Woodgate, Loughborough

In 1860, Thomas Messenger deployed one of his triangular tubular boilers to heat the Magistrates’ Court and prison cells of the then new Loughborough Police Station, which officially opened on 27th September 1860. The building, which occupied a site directly behind Messengers’ High Street Works, still exists. Having been empty for a while, it was converted in 2011 into business units, along with a cafe and shop.

Thomas Messenger was not only responsible for providing heating, he also, with his plumber’s hat on, installed “self-activating closets”, together with washbasins and “improved taps[20]. In the equivalent of today’s pre-launch press release, one local newspaper[21] reported the planned opening a week in advance:-

The New Police Station, Loughborough — This building, which will be opened on Thursday next the 27th inst., comprises a complete and general classification. It affords all the conveniences and modern improvements requisite for building of this kind. Ail the apartments and conveniences, excepting the bed-rooms, are arranged on the ground floor, which is considered a great desideratum. Next to Wood-street is the main entrance to the building and court-house, on the right of which is the clerk’s office and magistrates’ retiring-room, communicating with each other as well as with the court or bench. On the left is arranged the residence for the superintendent of police, with a side entrance from the right of road, such also having communication with the main entrance before referred to. The entrance for magistrates and attorneys is from Wood-gate, which has communication with the entrance for the public, and room for witnesses in attendance, which will avoid confusion; and from the latter a door is provided into the court, which is so situated as to be free from noise or interruption. There are two entrances to the bench for the magistrates, one being from the principal entrance and the other from the retiring-room, besides three other separate and distinct entrances; two being on one side and one on the other; one of the two for witnesses communicating with their waiting-room, and the other for the public, and the third strictly private for the prisoner, communicating with the corridor from the cells by which the prisoners will be brought and placed direct at the bar without the least possible interruption. Beyond the court just referred to, next the right of road, is the police office, also room for weight and measures, and eight cells at the back of the same, with separate airing court for males and females, all of which are under the immediate inspection of the police by windows from the police office or charge-room. At the rear is the sergeant’s residence, communicating with all the apartments before mentioned, with a large kitchen for washing, cooking. &c. A cart-house with stable and drill end is arranged at the extreme end of the building. The whole of the apartments have been so considered and arranged that every apartment may be respectively occupied and business carried on all at one time, without interfering (in the least) one with the other. Provision is made for the superintendent to have full access to any and every part of the building up to the sergeant’s residence without going out of doors. The fittings to the magistrates’ court have been well considered, and are in every way very compact. The table for the magistrates is of a circular or horse shoe form, the prisoners’ bar being in the centre or within the curve, by the side of which is placed the clerk’s desk, witness-box, and desk for superintendent of police. On the other aide is a table for attorneys at the back of which is an elevated desk for reporters which affords every facility both for hearing and seeing. The building throughout has been fitted up with the court being lighted with three ornamental star lights. The water is supplied by means of a force-pump into a large iron tank above the cells, thence by pipe and tap to the various apartments. In addition to this there is ample supply of soft water from large ground cisterns. The cells are fitted up with self-acting closets (by Mr. T. G. Messenger), quite of an improved description to those generally used, also with basin for washing, with improved taps. The magistrates’ court and cells are heated from hot water pipes by Mr. Messenger’s triangular tubular boiler which is proved to answer admirably for the purpose, and is well worthy the consideration of architect requiring the heating of buildings both for its simplicity and easy mode of application, also for the rapidity which the great amount of heat is conveyed through so through such an area of building. The buildings are executed of red and white brick with Bath and native stone dressings, with rusticated base. The frontage next Wood-gate 47 feet, side front facing the right of road 190 feet. The fronts are in every way appropriate for the occasion. The style adopted is the modern Italian and certainly reflect, the highest credit upon the architects, Messrs. Bellamy and Hardy, of the city of Lincoln, to whom too much praise cannot be awarded for the good taste and sound judgment they have displayed, both in the interior arrangements as well an exterior design. This is the second architectural feature these gentlemen have raised is a monument to the Town of Loughborough, and we hear the same architects have been engaged by the Savings Bank committee for their proposed new bank, which is looked forward to as a guarantee that Loughboro’ will soon be enriched with another architectural gem, which at all times adds much to the improvement and not lees importance to the town. The works have been very credit ably executed by Messrs. Pepper and Dolman, contractors, of Spalding, Lincolnshire; the iron work by Messrs. S. Frisby and Son, of this town. The clerk of the works employed was Mr. John Savill, who so ably filled the same office on our cemetery works, under the same architect.


Thorpe Malsor Hall


The village of Thorpe Malsor is 2¼ miles due west of Kettering, Northamptonshire. The Hall, which dates from the early 17th century, incorporates 18th and 19th century remodelling and is built of ashlar ironstone with limestone dressings with stone slate and Welsh slate roofs, lies adjacent to All Saints Church.

Thomas Messenger undertook work for Thomas Philip Maunsell (1781-1866) probably during 1858 as on 21st December 1859, Thomas Cokayne Maunsell (1818-1887), Thomas’ son, wrote the following testimonial[22]:

SIR,—The Greenhouse which you have erected here for my father, appears to be constructed most satisfactorily, both as regards workmanship and material. The Heating is very good, and the construction of the Boiler seems to answer its purpose well; your mode of ventilating is also superior to most, and certainly inferior to none; and the general appearance of the House is much admired by everyone who has seen it. I shall feel much pleasure in recommending you to any of my friends who may require Houses for Horticultural purposes.

In 1873, Thomas Messenger undertook further work at the Hall involving a heated 28ft. by 12ft. bedding plant house (£38 15s.) and two sets of quadrant apparatus to the front lights of an existing greenhouse (£6). The accompanying heating system, which cost £58, included a No. 4 Boiler, capable of heating both the new plant house and the existing greenhouse. This time the customer was the Revd. George Edmund Maunsell (1816-1875), an elder son of Thomas Philip Maunsell.

The kitchen garden lay just to the SSW of the Hall and the 1886-7 Ordnance Survey map shows five or six greenhouses at the NNE end of the garden, close to a dovecote. At the beginning of the 20th century, the greenhouses were still apparently extant. By 1926[23], one greenhouse, probably a lean-to had disappeared, with another one being built further to the SSW. Today it appears that none of the original greenhouses remain.


Marketing Ploy

Thomas Messenger came up with a novel marketing ploy for his divisionless horticultural structure by developing a model, which he was offering to send “carriage free to any gentleman requiring the same[24]. In the same advertisement, he was offering an illustrated price list for his garden engine, which he described as being “cheaper than any other”.



  1. The Loughborough Monitor, 9th August 1860.

  2. The Nottinghamshire Guardian, 6th September 1860.

  3. The Loughborough Monitor, 9th August 1860.

  4. A partner in the banking firm of Middleton, Cradock and Middleton, Market Place, Loughborough.

  5. The Gardeners’ Chronicle, Volume 12, 1st November 1879, Page 553.

  6. The Gardeners’ Chronicle, Volume 12, 1st November 1879, Page 553-4.

  7. Ordnance Survey Map.

  8. Drake’s Directory of Leicestershire, 1861.

  9. 1870 catalogue.

  10. Ibid..

  11. Leicestershire Record Office, Ref: DE2121/46.

  12. http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-405124-conservatory-in-markeaton-park-derby

  13. The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury, 27th July 1878.

  14. The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury, 18th May 1878.

  15. The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury, 10th August 1878.

  16. The Derby Mercury (Derby, England), Wednesday, 7th July 1880.

  17. Wright’s Directory of Leicestershire and Rutland, 1880

  18. The Loughborough Monitor, 10th April 1953.

  19. Named after Dr. Harry French, an engineer and physicist, Senior Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council 1981-1986.

  20. The Nottinghamshire Guardian, 20th September 1860

  21. Ibid.

  22. 1870 catalogue.

  23. Ordnance Survey Map.

  24. The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 28th April 1860, page 395.