On the surface, it appears that 1874 was a rather quiet year for Thomas Messenger. There are no known reports of him having attended any shows or exhibitions, nor submitting any patents applications. He did not even attend the RHS Great Show held at Aston Park, Birmingham, from 7th to 10th July, where the horticultural buildings exhibition was held on the site of the ill-fated boiler trail of two years earlier.

Advertisement – The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury, 10 January 1874

The Cowan Compensating Heating Company


The Drowmore Patent Heating Company advertisement from The Principles of Landscape Gardening, JJ Johnson, 1874.

In July, Thomas Messenger’s name along with a number of others was being used in conjunction with a share issue on behalf of The Cowan Compensating Heating Company. The Company was set-up to purchase the patent rights of the Dromore Patent Heating Company Ltd.


Annotated diagram of section through Cowan’s Boiler, The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 17th May 1873

Mr. John Cowan of Dromore, Kenmare. County Kerry, Ireland, had developed a new system that combined a limekiln with a hot-water apparatus. The system had won several awards and received favourable reviews in the horticultural press. The accompanying prospectus used a quantity of publicity material, some in the form of suitable commendations, including a presumed extract from a letter by Thomas Messenger, stating, “I have just got the first boiler to work on your system and it appears perfectly successful[1]. Whether Thomas Messenger actually purchased one of Cowan’s systems or developed his own using the patented technique is unclear. There is no evidence that Thomas Messenger was actually involved in the formation of the new Company and there is no indication that he acted for the Company in any capacity. This is probably as well as The Cowan Compensating Heating Company, was within seven months of the issue voluntarily wound up[2]. However, in October, he did supply 6 sets of ventilating apparatus to the Dromore Patent Heating Company Ltd., at their headquarters No. 40, Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin.


Cowan’s Boiler advertisement, The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 5 July 1973


Between 1870 and 1874, the number of estimates and orders, handled by Thomas Messenger, fluctuated by almost 100 per cent. In 1870 there were almost twice the number compared with 1874. This may have been due to an exceptionally large number of estimates. In one case, eight were submitted for the heating of a residence for Mr. Thomas Swift Taylor, a cotton merchant, of Leicester Frith, Leicester. In another a total of nine for horticultural buildings and accessories for Mr. William Blott, a corn, seed and coal merchant, of the Poplars, Gold Street, Wellingborough.

Advertisement – The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 3 January 1874

There were no apparent consistent growth figures throughout the five-year period. In all years except 1871, the heating apparatus estimates and orders were larger than those for Horticultural-only products were.

1874 appeared to be a relatively poor year for the volume of orders or estimates; it is the second lowest recorded compared with the previous seven years.

Geographically, around 60 per cent of Messenger’s customers or potential customers were located within about a 50-mile radius of Loughborough. Those over 50 miles distance were concentrated across the southern counties of England. Scotland accounted for less than 2 per cent and Wales a maximum of 4 per cent. One order, in 1873, for heating apparatus (including No. 5 boiler) was received from a Mr. Malthe, an architect from Oslo (then Kristiania), Norway with the material being shipped out by sea, via Hull.

Advertisement – The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 1874

1874 Customer List

Country County Town/Village Customer
England Bedfordshire Bedford J. Howard
  Berkshire Wokingham Marquis of Downshire
  Buckinghamshire Buckingham Edward Chapman Clayton
    Winslow George Roads
  Cheshire Ashton Hayes Thomas Philip Parr
    Lymm Morland Crosfield
    Stockport Benjamin Whitham
  Cornwall Boconnoc George Matthew Fortescue
  Derbyshire Allestree Thomas William Evans
    Ashgate Mrs. Sarah Ann Barnes
    Borrowash William Barron & Son
    Clay Cross John Jackson
    Osmaston John Wright
    Sheepbridge The Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Company (Limited)
    Winshill Frederick Gretton
  Devon Monkleigh Rev. Charles Saltren Willett
    Tavistock Reginald Kelly
    Torquay William James Veitch
  Durham South Shields N. Paget
    Westoe Mr. Bruce
    Wynward Marchioness of Londonderry
  Essex Plaistow Schools
  Gloucestershire Gloucester W.P. Hume
    Lydney Thomas Sully
  Hampshire Calshot Count Edmund Batthyany
    Crawley John Warren
    Fareham W.H. Deane
    Fawley E.A. Drummond
  Huntingdonshire Farcet John Bird
  Lancashire Blackburn Thomas Ainsworth
    Didsbury H. Masters
    Guide Bridge Jones & Co.
    Leyland John Stanning
    Manchester Dr. Thomas Pigg
    Manchester William Brockbank
    Morecambe D. Waller
    Over Hulton William Ford Hulton
    Southport Mrs. Longshaw
  Leicestershire Ashby-de-la-Zouch Samuel Ratcliff
    Hinckley Samuel Davis
    Husbands Bosworth Francis Fortescue-Turville
    Keyham Roger Dutton Miles
    Leicester George Louis Vaughan
    Leicester Joseph Whetsone
    Leicester Thomas Fielding Johnson
    Long Whatton H. Hall
    Loughborough Edward Chatterton Middleton
    Loughborough Francis & William Edward White
    Loughborough Miss Marianne Chapman
    Loughborough William Byerley Paget
    Maplewell Charles Ashton
    Market Harborough Edward Fisher
    Newtown Linford Rev. G.A. Smallwood
    Rothley F. Woodcock
    Woodhouse Eaves Edwin Ewen
    Woodhouse Eaves Mr. Bonser
  Lincolnshire Grimsby Edward Dawson
  Middlesex London Edmund Hannay Watts
  Middlesex London John Wills
  Northumberland Dudley Thomas Eustace Smith
  Nottinghamshire Arnold Duke of St. Albans
    Basford Charles James Cox
    Basford Cox & Son
    Nottingham J. Frettingham
    Nottingham John Pearson Cox
    Nottingham Stephen Waine
    Nottingham Thomas Butler Cutts
    Sanidacre J. Stevens
  Oxfordshire Middleton Stoney Earl of Jersey
  Rutland Oakham Oakham Church
  Staffordshire Alton T. Rabone
    Enville Earl of Stamford & Warrington
    King’s Bromley Col. John Henry Bagot Lane
    King’s Bromley John Bradbury
    Rugeley John Holt Moxon
  Surrey Crawley John Warren
  Warwickshire Birmingham Thomas Richards
    Rugby J. Ally
  Westmorland Maulds Meaburn Mrs. Thwaytes
  Wiltshire Stapleford Henry Bennett
  Worcestershire Birmingham John Cartland
  Yorkshire, East Riding South Dalton Lord Hotham
  Yorkshire, North Riding Kepwick Edward Warner
    Bradford William Hudson Bilbrough
    Ecclesfield Ecclesfield Church
    Rotherham Clement Beatson Clark
    Rotherham R.A. Evans
    Sheffield G. Taylor
    Sheffield Henry Howson
    Woodlesford Henry Bentley
Ireland County Dublin Dublin The Dromore Heating Co.
Scotland Lanarkshire Glasgow Royal Botanic Gardens
Wales Cardiganshire Gogerddan Sir Pryse Pryse
  Merionethshire Penarth W.R.M. Wynn




  1. The Standard, 28th July 1874.

  2. The London Gazette, 9th February 1875.