A life in concrete

“No example, that I am aware of, exists in Scotland of the best form of concrete roof, the domed concrete roof of the Arlington-street Swimming Baths, Glasgow, being the best of the concrete roofs I have executed in Scotland.”

The Builder 14 Sept 1878 p970

So wrote Charles Drake in The Builder of 14th September 1878.

Drake, born the son of a Devon builder, made his name with a technique of poured concrete between iron shuttering. The no-fines concrete was light, strong and thermally insulating. Iron shuttering meant that buildings could be constructed quickly and cheaply. He patented and licensed his equipment, but the business was short-lived and beset by tragedy.

In this recording with his great-grandson, David Scott Cowan, you can hear more about Charles Drake the builder, entrepreneur, businessman, and how his work shaped the Turkish Suite at the Arlington:



Engraving of the Drake Brothers & Reid shuttering technique with concrete poured between the vertical iron moulds – quicker, cheaper and requiring less-skilled labour



No-fines concrete wall in the basement beneath the Turkish Suite at the Arlington. No-fines means it has no sand in it.



Drake concrete house

Drake’s ‘Concrete House’ at 549 Lordship Lane, London

You can see more about how we discovered the Charles Drake connection in our blog post Turkish Delight.


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