Understanding Georgian & Regency London Houses

Building the House

This section looks at the way Georgian and Regency London Houses were built. We see a drawing made by one of Soane’s assistants to record the process of building. We see a drawing for a roof truss by George Dance the Younger, one of Soane’s teachers.

There is a drawing of the dangerous process of working with molten lead, which gives a good idea of the dangers in the building trade in the Georgian and Regency period.

Collections | Georgian & Regency | Building the House
Working with Molten Lead

Working with Molten Lead

Vol. 81/19 

Lead was used extensively in building work in Georgian and Regency London. It was used for plumbing, guttering and on roofs as it is soft to work with and resistant to water and corrosion. This is a drawing from 1812, by one of Soane’s pupils of a cauldron of molten lead at the Dulwich Picture Gallery but the same kind of thing would have been used in domestic work. Here we see the cauldron hanging over a fire which is contained within a structure of bricks loosely put together to allow the air to feed the flames.

The beam from which the chain hangs is supported on the left by what appears to be a re-used bit of old timber and on the right by some blocks standing on a trolley which could be wheeled around so the cauldron could be taken away from the fire. Imagine how dangerous the whole process was! Not only is the molten lead tremendously hot (327°C or 621°F) but it is very toxic and can severely damage the nervous system, brain and kidneys. It is now not used as much as it was in Soane’s time.