Haden stove

Published:  17 December, 2006

Haden stove
Warm-air heating for royalty — the Haden stove. This model now serves as a post box.

In 1797 the brothers George, James and John Haden, with their father George Senior, were working at the world-famous firm of Boulton & Watt at the Soho Manufactory in Birmingham. The brothers all worked for the Engine Company. After serving their apprenticeships George and James worked as erectors for the improved steam engine of James Watt. In 1814 George went to Trowbridge for the firm, later being joined by James. In 1816 the pair formed their own company of G&J Haden to act as agents in the West Country for Boulton & Watt.

A natural development of the engine work was the installation of steam systems, both for process work and heating in the mills.

The heating-stove business seems to have been initiated by James, with the encouragement of Matthew Boulton, and taken up enthusiastically by both brothers. For the next 20 years or so James travelled the British Isles meeting prospective clients, giving them estimates for heating stoves and fixing them or supervising their installation. Throughout these travels he sent a stream of letters back to George — ordering stoves and their fittings and telling what prices to quote and how much to pay contractors.

Their early clients were mostly the landed gentry and nobility, and the orders flowed in by personal recommendation. The work was later expanded to include churches, schools and various kinds of institution. The Haden warm-air stove brought warmth and comfort to the privileged class, but also to many of the middle and working class in their religious and educational activities. It was the forerunner of the larger, more powerful heating stoves that appeared in the second half of the 19th century.

Many hundreds of Haden stoves were supplied, the most prestigious warm-air installation being for George IV at Windsor Castle. When this project delayed the work of other customers, he delighted in writing letters of apology: ‘But I have been much occupied fixing stoves for His Majesty at Windsor.’ A few Haden stoves still exist, and the company, now Haden Young, continues.

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