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The very first double glazing salesman

Imagine being the very first double glazing salesman, attempting  to sell homeowners an unknown product to replace something they’ve been happy with for years. It certainly didn’t take long for the word to catch on and before long, double glazing became the new must-have. But where did it start, and who was that person given that daunting task?

Windows have come an awfully long way from stretching animal hides over a gaping hole in your bronze age property. We now have a sometimes baffling choice of window material from:

Although we may not consider or even know about half of these types, it’s incredible to see how the changes over the years affect something as simple as a hole in the wall to let light in.

The discovery

Long before double glazing came into production, there are reports that the concept was first discovered in Scotland by a Victorian family. To protect against the harsh weather and limited heating, the families fitted a second sheet of glass with putty to the existing windows. This concept was rumoured to be in use in Germany and Sweden too.

The production

The modern double-glazed window which consists of two layers of glass bonded together in a single frame was devised in 1930 by an American, C D Haven. Amongst several of the patents, Haven’s was awarded the Double Glazing US Patent 2030869. It was described as follows:

“…The invention relates to a commercially practical, single unit multiple glass sheet glazing construction consisting of two or more sheets of glass spaced apart by separating means cemented between the glass sheets entirely around their edges…”

He created the Thermopane (incorporating the integral vacuum between the two panes of glass) which was snapped up by the Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company in Toledo, Ohio where it became a luxury item in the 40’s and 50’s amongst the higher echelons of American homeowners. Due to America’s involvement in the Second World War however, mass production was delayed until 1952.

Double glazing introduced to the UK

Although we were aware of the concept here, it was unattainable for the average household because of the cost and it was deemed unnecessary. Even with the harsh winters and difficult to heat homes, there wasn’t a breakthrough until 1965 when two things occurred:

  • Building Regulations were introduced that addressed heat loss in homes
  • Anglian Home Improvements and Everest Windows  were founded (though neither sold double-glazing at the time).

It took another decade before the UK finally caught up with America and Scandinavia, as reports show that double glazing was also commonplace in Scandinavia even in 60’s.

By the late 1970’s there was strict legislation in place on home heating losses, and it was becoming impossible to rely on traditional heating methods to keep the home warm. Double glazing was proving to be an efficient and now relatively affordable method of keeping warm, sticking to the heat loss legislation guidelines and actually saving money through lower energy bills. It wasn’t long before households were adding patio doors, building conservatories along with double glazing all the windows and doors.

For a whole generation of people in the UK double glazing will always be synonymous with a wind blown Ted Moult and the phrase: “Fit the best, fit Everest”. There followed a host of memorable adverts highlighting the ability of a double glazed window in buffering the blustery outside elements.

Up to today

There have been several updates to the 1965 heat loss legislation which have resulted in all  replacement glazing keeping in line with new thermal performance standards set out in the Building Regulations of 2002. With the industry having taken quite a beating over the years from so called ‘unscrupulous’ salesmen, the introduction of FENSA (Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme) has gone a long way to turning its reputation back around. With a FENSA registered company, like Unicorn Windows, you can be sure you are being given expert advice and the best service available.

So it may not seem all that long ago that comedy sketch shows were rife with digs at double glazing salesmen and his products were the unknown commodity in a hard sell, but take a look around you today and oggle at the aesthetic wonder of the double glazed window.

[Photo by jarmoluk]