Valve Construction Patent (1861/1754)

Despite spending time promoting and growing his various businesses interests, he obviously had sufficient time to be able to dedicate some of it in his search for improvements in the various components that he used. On 11th July 1861, he successfully applied[1] for another non-horticultural related patent (No. 1861/1754), this time for an invention involving “improvements in the construction of valves[2].

The design and particularly the manufacture of valves, capable of being used in a variety of applications, was a particular favourite of his and one that he continued to indulge time in well in to the 1880s.

The following is an extract from the patent application: –

My improvements consist in the first place in forming a chamber with a valve seat and valve, constructed of brass or other suitable material, the valve opening quite back, so as to give the same capacity in the valve as that which is in the pipe with which it is connected.

Secondly, in constructing a spindle working through a stuffing box or inside the chamber before mentioned, to which spindle the above valve is attached, and which said spindle forms the hinge of the valve; a toothed quadrant is fixed to the said spindle, and is acted upon by a worm or screw wheel, or by a handle or other suitable contrivance, so that the operator may be enabled by to open the valve any required distance.

And thirdly, in constructing a lid or door which may be removed with ease and at pleasure (should the valve require cleaning or repairing), without disturbing the pipes or breaking a joint.

I now proceed to explain my said Invention, more particularly with reference to the accompanying Drawings, which exemplify apparatus constructed according to my Invention.

Figure 1 is a perspective view, and Figure 2 a section. A is a socket which received the pipe to which the valve belongs; B is a chamber for the valve to work in; C is a valve; D is the valve seat; E is the spindle or hinge of the valve; F is a stuffing box or gland through which the spindle works; G is toothbed quadrant; H is the worm and I a wheel to work the worm; J is a lid or door to the chamber b; and K a bolt by which the door is secured.

It may thus be seen that the valve C can be opened quite back in the chamber B. so as not to obstruct the passage or fluid way; and that I can regulate the extent to which the valve can be opened, that the spindle E is worked by the quadrant G; when the valve is to be cleaned or repaired the bolt K is unfastened and the door J opened, so that the valve can thus be readily attained without disturbing the pipe or disconnecting the joints. The door J may be secured by other ordinary attachments instead of the bolt K.

Having now described the nature of the said Invention and in what manner the same may be performed, I declare that I claim,—

First, the employment of a chamber for a valve to work in, so that it may open quite back therein, in the manner and for the purpose described.

Second, the employment of the valve spindle, arranged and actuated as described.

Thirdly, the arrangement and combination of parts herein-before described.

Patent Figures


Annotated Patent Figures

This was not his first venture into valve production; he had been manufacturing and marketing hot-water valves from early 1860. In an advertisement, from March 1860[3], he described the valve as both “perfect and simple”, priced at 22s. for a 4-inch valve and 18s. 6d. for a 3-inch valve. Presumably, this valve was not the model he patented but an earlier version, possibly an interim design.

Again, Thomas Messenger was entering a competitive market place already occupied by a number of suppliers, such as Mr. Lynch White of Upper Ground Street, Blackfriars Bridge, London. Some such as James Gray were already competitors in both horticultural building and hot-water heating fields.

The patent was sealed on 3rd January 1862, although he appears to have only started advertising the valve towards the middle of 1862, describing it as being “unequalled for its efficiency, simplicity, durability and cheapness”. Again, Thomas Messenger was emphasising the low price, offering a 2-inch valve for less than 17s. 6d., a 3-inch for under 23s., and a 4-inch for under 28s. These prices were less than those he was charging two years previously, prior to obtaining the patent. Normally patented products carried a premium but it is likely that the pricing structure was targeted at beating those of James Gray, who, at the time was sole agent for Beck’s patent hot-water valves. Gray was charging 18s 6d. for a 2-inch horizontal valve, 25s. for a 3-inch valve and 30s. for a 4-inch valve, with angle valves being almost exactly the same price at Messenger with a 2-inch valve at 17s., a 3-inch valve at 23s. and a 4-inch valve at 28s[4].

Thomas Messenger was obviously looking to increase the volume of sales and to achieve this he made the decision to distribute the valves through the industry by offering “a liberal discount to the Trade[5]. It did not take long to find a London outlet. He agreed a trade deal one of his competitors, John Jones of No. 6, Bankside, Southwark, London, a horticultural engineer, hot-water apparatus manufacturer, and iron merchant[6]. Obviously, John Jones had made the decision to both manufacture his own equipment and act as an agent for other manufacturers and designers. Besides Messenger’s valves, he was also offering Beck’s patent valves and Monro’s Cannon boiler, which he appeared to manufacture also. In addition to a complete hot water installation service, similar to that offered by Thomas Messenger, John Jones was also offering to deliver hot-water pipes and fitting to “any station in England…………parties availing themselves of this offer will in many cases get their Pipes at a Country Station at a less price than would be charged in London”. This may have been one of the reasons for Thomas Messenger entering into the agreement. Amongst the list of stations specifically listed by John Jones was Loughborough, giving rise to the peculiar possibility of someone living in Loughborough ordering a set of Messenger’s valves, only for them to be sent from Thomas Messenger’s factory down to London by train and for them to be immediately returned to Loughborough station for collection by the customer.

Whether the patented valve was as successful as he had hoped, is questionable, as he let the patent lapse after the initial three years. He declined the opportunity to pay the £50 additional stamp duty before the expiration date[7]. That was not the end of the story for he was still he was still marketing the valves ten years later[8], In 1867 he was describing them as “T.G. Messenger’s VALVE (Single or Double), is effective, simple, easy to work, and as durable as the pipe to which it is attached[9]


  1. Sealed on 3rd January 1862.

  2. The London Gazette, 26th July 1861.

  3. The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 17th March 1860, page 250.

  4. The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 8th February 1862.

  5. The Gardeners’ Chronicle & Agricultural Gazette, 5th July 1862, page 616.

  6. The Gardeners’ Chronicle & Agricultural Gazette, 1st November 1862, page 1040.

  7. The London Gazette, 22nd July 1864.

  8. The Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 19th August, – 1871, page 1090.

  9. The Nottinghamshire Guardian, 25th January 1867.