Monday, November 05, 2007

Wrinkly tin

Adam Mornement's Corrugated Iron: Building on the Frontier is reviewed at the FT by Edwin Heathcote (oh, I must get this, it sounds quite excellent and just what I like):
Corrugated iron was developed to provide a rigid sheet material which could be used as both structure and cladding – a one-stop shop for industrial building. It was used in building London’s St Katherine Docks, as well as for the ships which berthed there. Isambard Kingdom Brunel was an early adopter, using it for the great spans of Paddington Station, but it was the US gold rush of 1849 and the subsequent Australian rush that filled the coffers of the still almost exclusively British manufacturers.

In those harsh, dry environments, rigid metal sheet proved ideal for temporary construction and was recycled ad infinitum as settlements grew. Corrugated sheet was used for buildings as diverse as the Brompton Boilers (the forerunner of London’s V&A) and a weird ballroom for Balmoral. It appeared in colonial churches and chapels around the world and at home. Mornement points out that these churches formed the spiritual home of the Labour party as those tin tabernacles housed audiences for Keir Hardie’s preaching.

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