Cast Iron Radiators

History of Cast Iron Radiators

Cast iron radiators were introduced at the end of the Victorian era around 1890 and were hugely popular in France and America in particular, possibly due to the cordial trading relationship between the two countries at the time following the Paris Exposition of 1889. The British market was slightly slower to catch on but the radiators were mass-produced and installed in public buildings in great quantity at the turn of the 20th century.

Paris Exposition 1889

Paris Exposition 1889

Radiator Designs

The cast iron radiators were often elaborately decorated with floral designs, popular during the late Victorian and early Edwardian periods, in the Art Nouveau and later Art Deco style of the 1920s. The earliest French radiators were very typical of the flamboyant French artists at the time such as Monet and Renoir with beautiful elegant floral designs as on the Rococo and Verona radiators. These styles were mirrored in Massachusetts by the ‘American Radiator Company’  during the 1890s before tastes changed to simpler organic forms at the turn of the century.

Bespoke Victorian cast iron radiators

Bespoke traditional Victorian period cast iron radiators

The ‘Orleans’ radiator shows this off emphatically with its beautifully simple, organic flowing ribbon designs in the form of flower stems which wind their way up the radiator legs. However, not all radiators were so elaborate such as the model we call the Victorian, which is very simple in form with columns forming the structure of the radiator, which could easily be mass-produced to keep down costs. These were widely used throughout public buildings where functionality was more important than looks, but are hugely popular today as the simple design is very contemporary. There are more variations on the Victorian cast iron radiator than any other in our catalogue with a choice of 7 sizes available.

Originally, many of the radiators were designed for use with steam which later evolved to be used with water. The cast iron radiator construction is ideal as it enables them to withstand the high pressures involved.

Radiator Valves

All of the radiators can be fitted with modern radiator valves with thermostatic controls. However, there is a wide selection of beautiful brass, chrome and antique effect radiator valves available to enhance the look of the radiator.

Cast iron radiator valves

Radiator valves to fit Victorian cast iron radiators

Victorian cast iron radiators also require wall stays, also known as wall ties, to stop the radiator from tilting if leaned on or pulled. The wall stay doesn’t support any weight of the radiator, it just stops movement that could damage the pipe work. The radiator wall ties are fitted approximately 1 for every 10 sections of radiator.

Radiator wall stays

Wall stays or wall ties to fit cast iron radiators

When buying cast iron radiators, it’s important to choose the radiator that is the right heat output for the room. Cast iron radiators can be assembled to almost any length by simply adding more sections to each other to the size required. But be warned, when adding more than 20 sections together the radiators become incredibly heavy and can require 6 or more people to lift just 1 radiator. It is advisable to have 2 smaller radiators than one big one, as this will provide a more comfortable heat distribution around the room. The cast iron radiators will take longer to warm up than standard steel radiators, but take much longer to cool down giving superb comfort and heat distribution.

Traditional period radiators can be supplied in a variety of finishes such as painted, polished, antique, highlighted or base primer. The primer finish is ideal way of buying the radiators on a tight budget, as the radiators are purchased assembled and tested but can be sprayed or painted in any colour to suit you. Never fit polished or highlighted radiators in a wet area. This is due to the moisture in the air which would cause the cast iron to rust. Unfortunately cast iron radiators can’t be lacquered on to the bare surface, because if the lacquer is chipped, moisture will penetrate the cast iron under the lacquer and there is no way to stop it. If the bare cast iron gets rust spots, a light oil is applied with a soft cloth.

Cast iron radiators can enhance the look and feel of any room and are well worth considering when renovating  or just improving a property. With a choice of designs from highly decorative to contemporary or minimalistic, they look superb in any setting.

Cast iron radiators

Victorian cast iron radiators enhance any period property.


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