Glazing without Putty Patent (1861/2235)

Thomas Messenger was clearly determined that this move into the horticultural business should be a success when on 6th September 1861[1], he submitted yet another patent application (No. 1861/2235). This time for an invention for “Improvements in glazing horticultural buildings, the roofs of railway stations and other erections”[2]. Messenger believed that this invention could be used outside of the horticultural arena, having a wide range of applications.

The following is an extract from the patent application: –

LETTERS PATENT to Thomas Goode Messenger, of High Street, Loughborough in the County of Leicester, Horticultural Builder, Plumber and glazier for the Invention of “Improvements in Glazing Horticultural Buildings, the roofs of railway stations, and other erections”.

Sealed the 4th March 1862, and dated the 6th September 1861.

My improvements consists of laying glass in such wise that each edge of the glass (which glass may be of any required shape or size) shall lie on one side of an open gutter and rafter, either cast or rolled in one or two parts. The said gutter is made to carry off all the condensed vapours from the interior, as well as the rain, etc.

I now proceed to explain my said Invention more particularly with reference to the accompanying Drawings.

Figure 1 is a plan of a portion of a roof glazed according to my Invention: Figure 2 is a section of bar B and gutter A; Figure 3 section of screw E and plate to secure glass; Figures 2 and 3 are on a larger scale than Figure 1.

A, A, A, represents the metal gutter to convey the water from the glass; B, B, is the sash bar made of wood or other material but when made of other material than wood may have a gutter A formed in it; C, C, C, C, is the glass, with the edges bent downwards into gutters, and consequently requiring neither putty nor paint to render the glazing waterproof. If it is required to be air-proof, I bed it with putty on the edge of the gutter; the glass is cut (where one square laps over the other) so as to convey the condensed water into the gutters; D, D, is a brass plate, to which are attached india-rubber pads to press upon two edges of squares of glass; E represents a screw passing through brass plate, and india-rubber into the bar B to secure two edges of glass; F is a tube secured to the bottom of the gutter in order to prevent the water passing out of the gutter to the wood bar B.

To make a flat glass roof I propose to bend four edges of each square of glass downwards, and to form four gutters to intersect each other to carry away the water.

Having now described the nature of my said Invention, and in what manner the same may be performed, I declare that claim the method of glazing herein-before described.

Patent Figures


Annotated Patent Figures


Whilst he did not extend the patent period when it came up for renewal in 1874[3], this was one of Thomas Messenger’s most enduring and probably important inventions. It provided for a lighter weight glazing system, whereby each piece of glass was laid in such a way that one side was an open gutter, which could have a dual role, either that of only a gutter or as a combined gutter and rafter. The gutter was designed and manufactured in such a way as to allow it to remove internal condensation as well as rain, etc.[4].

Glazing without putty was not a new phenomenon; it had been used, albeit sporadically for about twenty years[5]. However, the technique usually employed was to stick the glass down using three or four coats of paint, which often suffered from moisture penetration and subsequent rotting timbers. Messrs Cottam and Hallam of No. 2, Winsley Street, Oxford Street, London, devised a putty-less glazing system around the 1830s[6], although it never caught on.

An interesting article appeared in 7th March 1865 issue of The Journal of Horticultural, Cottage Gardener and Country Gentlemen; whereby following a number of previous articles regarding the glazing of horticultural buildings without using putty, Thomas Messenger sent the editors a number of woodcuts and notes regarding his patented method. The editors duly responded by printing the following article:

………The glass used for this glazing has the sides turned down, as shown in No. 1, which conveys the water into small gutters made of lead, copper, zinc, or iron ; or the sash-bar itself is made with a gutter in it.

The mode of securing the glass down to the gutter, is shown by section No. 2, which is by a screw passing through a brass plate and india-rubber pad into the wood or metal bar; the india-rubber slightly pressing upon the two sides of glass keeps it in its place.

The plan shows the brass plates and shape of the glass, which is so arranged as to convey the condensed vapour into the gutters internally, as well as the rain externally.

The first cost is rather more than that of ordinary glazing, but is much more than compensated for by the following advantages—viz., no paint is required, saving the usual periodical expense of painting once in every two years; any handy labourer can replace a square of glass when broken; all annoyance of pieces of glass and putty falling amongst plants, &c., during repairs is avoided; also the appearance is far superior, and minor advantages would be experienced by its use.

Where it is necessary to make it air-tight as well as water-proof, a back putty is used, but which is never exposed to the action of the weather, so that it is as durable as the glass itself.

The above is a section of a very simple and effective structure for covering Peach, Fig, or Apricot-walls, and which could, if heated with hot water, be used with advantage for a very early vinery. It is, in fact, when unheated, a lean-to orchard-house……..


  1. Sealed on 4th March 1862.

  2. The London Gazette, 20th September 1861.

  3. The London Gazette, 16th September 1864.

  4. The Building News, 11th April 1862.

  5. The Journal of Horticulture, Cottage Gardener and Country Gentlemen, 28th February 1865, page 173.

  6. Ibid.