articles and news
25 Jun 2016
A brief history of cast iron radiators
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by paula

At the early beginnings, the only method of heating a house was either through a stove or a fireplace, with smoke going through the chimney, pushing the heat upwards. Not only were these methods ineffective, they were dangerous as well. There was always the risk of chimney fires, or sparks which could ignite the floor.

Secondly, man invented coal gas, which introduced us to further more dangers, as it was itself highly toxic killing many home dwellers if the flame went out, leaving the owner to die as the gas supply would be still running. So, it was only natural that man needed to carry on with the search of better solutions. The result was the ingenious development of controllable heat in the form of piped circulating hot water held in cast iron vessels that radiated the heat by manual command.

Since Russians were the most exposed people to very low temperatures, it is easy to believe it was a Polish-born Russian man, Franz San Galli, who introduced the heating radiator for the first time, in St. Petersburg. The actual process took place between 1855-1857. Briefly after, wealthy Victorians discovered this ambitious, very useful invention, proving themselves hasty to bring it to Great Britain, although radiators have been mostly certified in the early 20th century in Great Britain. Previous attempts of designing radiators have been known since around 1830 in America, but one thing is certain: cast iron radiators were run by steam, rather than hot water, unlike nowadays. Steam works at great pressures, hence all the radiators were provided with security-valves, supposed to release the steam, should the pressure rise too much. However, steam-powered pipes have not proved to be very safe either, therefore, new designs suggested steam being replaced with water.

Victorian cast iron radiators managed to emphasize the elegance of Victorian and Edwardian homes, through the details carved in the casting molds which could bring out the delicacy of the age’s specific organic lines. Today’s modern radiators are manufactured from pressed steel sheets, being unable to express a trend as elegant and as classy as the Victorian. This unique beauty makes it exactly the reason why people are increasingly opting for traditional column radiators in vintage-decor homes. The passion for beauty and class, as well as faultless functionality and lifetime warranty of quality products are precisely the grounds of our desire to revive these one-of-a-kind pieces. Indeed, the process of restoration can take a lot of time, but the result will not be disappointing. Cast iron radiators are a pleasure to work with, even if they are used and old, each tells their own story, making us proud of yet another life saved! Take a look at our selection of vintage and new cast iron radiators.