Further to my first blog about the history of sash windows, I thought it timely to tell you how they continued to thrive before falling out of favour during the 20th century until today where they are again enjoying their rightful place in the nation’s popularity.
As the 18th Century progressed, the construction of sash windows improved,glazing bars became steadily thinner and became the norm. In more expensive work, these bars were sometimes constructed of iron or brass and often painted to appear like wood.As the century progressed and larger panes of glass became available.
Window construction also improved and by the end of the Century the basic construction, that is familiar today, had developed.
Later, cast-iron and brass sash pulleys superseded the earlier types, illustrating the care, thought and invention, that went into the improvement of sash windows.
Although early sash windows were mainly constructed of oak, imported Baltic softwoods became widely used for sash windows. However oak remained common for window sills, the rest of the window being constructed of soft wood.
Glass & Glazing
The most common form of glass throughout the Georgian period was Crown glass. This was made by blowing, with a central bull’s-eye.
By the 1850′s, more expensive villas and terraced houses were built with plate-glass windows to front facades whilst glazing bars were still used in basements,attics and on less important elevations.
The most widely used design were four-paned sash windows. Sheet glass was common in Victorian Gothic villas and terraces, and by the 1870′s the four paned sash was the standard for cheaper terraced houses, although there were regional variations.
In the 1870′s and 1880′s the influence of architects such as Philip Webb and Norman Shaw, and the Queen Anne Revival style, led to the return of glazing bars, which often imitated Queen Anne windows with Victorian modifications, such as sash windows horns.
Many patents were taken out for sash windows in the later 19th Century, One of these may be seen in hotels and public buildings in particular with a device which allowed the sash to pivot inwards to facilitate cleaning.
Victorian & Edwardian
The construction of sash windows involved sophisticated techniques and mouldings,with added labour costs, and this was probably one of the major reasons why mass-produced steel and timber windows became popular, particularly for housing estates.
Twenties & Thirties
During the twenties and thirties, chains often replaced sash cords in the domestic setting. Chains had been employed for large plate-glass windows in the 19th Century, but were then rare in houses. By 1939, the use of sash windows was confined largely to neo-Georgian buildings, particularly post offices, banks, public houses and local
authority housing estates.
After the Second World War, the sash window popularity declined. The steel spiral balance began to replace the pulley and weights, which were expensive to make. Mass-produced casements became universal, and the sash was considered
By the 1950′s, many owners of older houses were replacing sash windows with up-to-date steel casements and by the 60s with plate-glass, often with louvered vents at the top, thus disfiguring many a splendid Victorian house.
By the mid 1970′s the aluminium window, with its sealed glass unit, began to supersede the idea of internal double glazing, and window replacement began on a scale never before seen in this country. By the early 1980′s, this process increased. It became quite usual, not only for the actual sash to be replaced, but for the whole frame to be replaced by a hardwood frame and an aluminium double-glazed unit-totally unsuitable aesthetically for an older house.
I believe this disfigurement on such a large scale has been a motivation behind people’s decision to return to the sash window as a replacement style for their homes.
Hundreds of years of nurturing a classic style cannot be wiped out purely for financial practicalities alone and the enduring appeal of the sash window is now seeing a revival.
Long may it continue and long may we at Croxfords provide you with timeless and durable traditional timber sash windows for your home.