Pipe Coupling Patent (1871/53)

On 10th January 1871, Thomas Messenger submitted the first of three patents he submitted over the following three-year period concerning pipe coupling.

This first application (No. 1871/53) was entitled “improvements in the coupling of pipes”. The invention, which received provision protection only, involved forming a socket at the end of each length of pipe with a flange with lugs and slots on the outer end. The following is an extract from the patent application: –

I cast or otherwise form the socket at one or both ends of each length of pipe with a flange (or with a ring) having one, two, or more lugs, ears, or tabs, or their equivalent, and having holes or slots in it at the outer end.

Or instead of a flange I sometimes form the socket with one or more pairs of tabs or ears. The interior of the socket may be of the same diameter for the whole of its length.

Or I divide it into two lengths of two different diameters. In such case the length of socket nearest the pipe which forms a part thereof is of such diameter that it will allow the end of the next adjoining pipe to be slipped into it. The outer end of the socket is made of somewhat larger diameter to receive one or more rings, or a coil, collar, washer packing which encircles the pipe inserted in the socket. Previously inserting the pipe in the socket the flange with holes in its projecting part or the flange or ring with tabs or ears on its outer circumference is slipped on the end of the pipe, the holes in the two flanges, or the spaces formed by the tabs or ears, being then brought opposite each other screw bolts are placed in the holes or spaces, nuts or equivalents are placed on the bolts and screwed or forced up. The smallest part of the flange is forced into the enlarged diameter of the socket and compresses the packing, thus forming a tight joint.

Patent Figures

How important or successful this invention became is unclear.

As part of his submission, Thomas Messenger described himself as a “Hydraulic Engineer, Valve Engineer and Horticultural Builder”, in that order. Presumably he was trying to emphasise the importance of being a hydraulic and valve engineer in relationship to the patent submission. Several months later[1] when completing his census return he recorded his profession as Horticultural Builder.


  1. 2nd – 3rd April 1871.