Heritage Built Glasshouses

Published on 25th October 2018
Apropos has a heritage dating back over seven decades – and it’s a heritage built on glasshouses.

hartley van

In 1938 our founder; Vincent Hartley, patented his first aluminium glasshouse design.

Vincent was influenced by the glasshouses of the Victorian period.  He, however, believed that these glasshouse designs could be improved – by using aluminium frames instead of iron.

With this in mind he set about creating new, innovative and modern designs. Vincent began with the simple premise that glasshouse design should be clean and uncluttered. He was the first to use strong but light aluminium purlins and joists. This method created spacious, elegant glasshouses, which optimised the natural light in an entirely new way, unrivalled by the standard wood and wrought iron frames of the era.

Vincent’s glasshouses excelled on the market and from his initial designs his work progressed to incorporate a unique style of glazing. With each glass pane separately enclosed in its own frame, to avoid pane overlaps, permanently edge-sealed with a durable gasket, and firmly secured with capping using stainless steel screws. Fitted with safety glass, Hartley’s glasshouses proved deceptively storm proof and maintenance free for life – a luxury hitherto unheard of until Vincent’s innovation.

One of the grandest examples of Vincent’s structures was the huge Royal Floral Hall glasshouse he built on Rhyl’s promenade. This opened in 1958/59 and many examples of Vincent’s original glasshouses are still in working order.


Long after Vincent retired, Apropos continued creating magnificent glasshouses. The most famous being the glasshouse that protects the famous vine at Hampton Court Palace, which was opened in 1969.


Today, whilst Apropos is more renowned for contemporary bespoke conservatories, orangeries and other glass and aluminium structures, the company still creates magnificent glasshouses for both the commercial and residential market. These glasshouses maintain the strong traditions of Vincent Hartley’s original glasshouse designs, which have proved timeless and classic. Apropos’ glasshouses can be enjoyed in both the summer and the winter months, and are truly magnificent creations, providing wonderful environments for rest, relaxation, and serious gardening.

To find our more about Apropos’ designs for the modern world get in touch with us today or download our free buying guide.
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