Thomas Messenger’s first wholly horticultural structure related patent was No. 1859/1777, submitted on 1st August 1859, for “improvements in the construction of buildings or erections to be used for horticultural or other purposes”. Again he described himself as a “Horticultural Builder, and Plumber” on the patent application.
The improvements referred to in the application consisted of three elements.:
Firstly, by reducing the size and weight of the roof rafters replacing them by smaller, lighter ones. This was achieved, whilst also maintaining the strength, by the judicious use of tension rods running along the length of the underside, fixed at points to the lighter rafter.
Secondly, providing the ability to dispense with internal divisions or partitions, often used for support purposes; thus providing for a greater length of structure without supports.
Thirdly, a ventilation system capable of opening either the front, or roof, lights, along the whole length of the structure, from a single location normally situated at either end of the structure.
The patent application sealed on 31st January 1860 may not have been as significant as he would have wished, because when it came up to renewing the £50 stamp duty at the end of the initial three years, he failed to do so and the patent lapsed. However, the patent laid down the two important principles that were to be strategic to the long-term success of both Thomas Messenger’s tenure and that of the subsequent company, namely the use of lightweight rafters with tension bars and the ventilation apparatus. The practice of using lightweight rafters with tension bars was used well into second quarter of the twentieth century. An updated version of the ventilation was also used for a number of years, until replaced in the 1890s by a new design.
LETTERS PATENT to Thomas Goode Messenger, of High Street, Loughborough in the County of Leicester, Horticultural Builder and Plumber for the Invention of “Improvements in the Construction of Buildings or Erections to be used for Horticultural or other Purposes.
Sealed the 31st January 1860, and dated the 1st August 1859.
PROVISIONAL SPECIFICATION left by the said Thomas Goode Messenger at the Office of the Commissioners of Patents, with his Petition, on 1st August 1859.
I, Thomas Goode Messenger, of High Street, Loughborough, in the County of Leicester, Horticultural Builder and Plumber, do hereby declare the nature of the said Invention for “Improvements in the Construction of Buildings or Erections to be used for Horticultural or other Purposes,” to be as follows:-
My Invention consists, in the first place, in the use or employment of light rafters in lieu strong ones, and in supporting the same with a tensive rod; secondly, in making the entire length of a building without a division and, thirdly, in the use or employment of apparatus for opening any part of a building or erection the entire length at once, which said apparatus consists in part at least of two wheels; to one wheel a handle is attached and fixed in any convenient place for working the same, and to the other wheel a screw and rods are attached; a chain is made to revolve round the two wheels which turn a screw, from which motion is given to the rods attached to parts of the building to be opened and which by these means can be either opened or closed at pleasure.
My Invention thus affords, amongst other features of improvement, great strength with lightness of material, is rendered impervious to wet, and offers great facility for ventilation.
SPECIFICATION in pursuance of the conditions of the Letters Patent, filed by the said Thomas Goode Messenger in the Great Seal Patent Office on the 1st February 1860.
TO ALL TO WHOM THESE PRESENTS SHALL COME, I, Thomas Goode Messenger, of High Street, Loughborough, in the County of Leicester, Horticultural Builder and Plumber, send greeting
WHEREAS Her most Excellent Majesty Queen Victoria, by Her Letters Patent, bearing date the First day of August, in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and fifty-nine, in the twenty-third year of Her reign, did, for Herself, Her heirs and successors, give and grant unto me, the said Thomas Goode Messenger, Her special licence that I, the said Thomas Goode Messenger, my executors, administrators, and assigns, or such others as I, the said Thomas Goode Messenger, my executors, administrators, and assigns, should at any time agree with, and no others, from time to time and at all times thereafter during the term therein expressed, should and lawfully might make, use, exercise, and vend, within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the Channel Islands, and Isle of Man, an Invention for “ Improvements in the Construction of Buildings or Erections to be used for Horticultural or other Purposes,” upon the condition (amongst others) that I, the said Thomas Goode Messenger, my executors or administrators, by an instrument in writing under my, or their, or one of their hands and seals, should particularly describe and ascertain the nature of the said Invention, and in what manner the same was to be performed, and cause the same to be filed in the Great Seal Patent Office within six calendar months next and immediately after the date of the said Letters Patent.
NOW KNOW YE, that I, the said Thomas Goode Messenger, do hereby declare the nature of the said Invention, and in what manner the same is to be performed, to be particularly described and ascertained in and by the following statement thereof, reference being had to the accompanying Drawings, and to the letters and figures marked thereon, that is to say:-
This Invention relates to buildings or erections for horticultural and other purposes, particularly and principally to such as hothouses and other erections, constructed of glass and wood or metal, or with roofs and sides of glass, and consists, in the first place, in the use or employment of light rafters in lieu of strong ones, the same being supported by a tensive rod; secondly, in making the entire length of the building or erection without a division; and thirdly, in the use or employment of apparatus for opening any part of a building or erection the entire length at once, which said apparatus consists, in part at least, of two wheels, one of which has a handle attached to it, and is placed in any convenient situation for working the same, while to the other wheel a screw and rods are attached, and a chain is caused to revolve round the two wheels, whereby the screw is turned and motion is thence transmitted to the rods, these rods being attached to the part of the building which are intended to be opened, and which by means can be either opened, and which by these means can be either opened or closed at pleasure.
My Invention thus affords, amongst other features of improvement, great strength with lightness of material, renders the building impervious to wet, and offers considerable facility for ventilation.
I now proceed more particularly to explain my said Invention, and the mode of performing the same, reference being had to the accompanying Drawings.
Figure 1 represents front and end view of a lean-to roof; the same improvements, however, will also apply to buildings of other forms or shapes. A is the brickwork; B, B, are the iron mullions supporting the front place and roof; C is the cornice of the building, having within it a spout; D, D, D, D, represent the rafters, which are composed of very light or slender material, and are supported by tension rods, as shewn in Figure 2. The fast part of the roof E is without a division the entire length of the building, as are also the two moveable frames or lights F, G; H, H, Figure 3, represents the apparatus for opening the frames or lights to afford ventilation; I is the wheel provided with a handle fixed to any part of the building most convenient for working the same; J is an endless chain revolving round the wheel I, and also round a smaller wheel K, to which is secured a long screw L working in slings M, attached to a rod N, extending to the other end of the frame or light intended to be opened. This rod is moved backward and forward by the screw L, and so acting upon the arms O, O, O, O, opens and closes the lights or frames as desired.
And having now described the nature of my said Invention, and in what manner the same may be performed, I declare that I claim as my said improvements, –
First, the employment or application of light rafters instead of strong ones, such light rafters being supported by tensive rods.
Secondly, the construction of the entire length of the building or erection without a division, as herein-before described.
Thirdly, the employment and application of the apparatus constructed and operating in the manner herein-before described for opening or closing any part of the building or erection.
In witness whereof, I, the said Thomas Goode Messenger, have hereunto set my hand and seal, this Twenty-seventh day of January, in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and sixty.
THOMAS GOODE MESSENGER. (L.S.)
Geo John Robinson,
Patent Agent, Nottingham.
Annotated Patent Figures