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Rain Gutters History

The earliest known rain gutters are from the Indus Valley civilization, dating back between 3000 to 1500 BC. Made from burnt clay bricks, these gutters were fashioned into a water-based toilet. In ancient Greece as well as ancient Egypt, gargoyles helped divert water from buildings by acting as water spouts. Romans, who understood the importance of water management and had a goddess of the sewers named Cloacina, used early forms of gutters between 27 BC – 14 AD. The Romans realized they could raise the street slightly in the middle, creating a runoff for water to pour into gutters. The Romans brought gutter technology to Britain in 47 AD.

During the middle ages, gargoyles became the dominant gutter system as the Norman Invasion sparked the massive rebuilding of town and churches in Britain, using new architecture that included stone roofs and parapets. What could possibly be the first British down pipe was erected at the Tower of London, protecting the newly whitewashed walls.

In 1539, the dissolution of the monasteries made large amounts of recycled lead available, creating a boom in rainwater goods, including hopper heads and cisterns on grand houses, incorporating heraldic designs.

The early 1700s saw cast iron become an abundant, inexpensive material. This led to it replacing lead as the most popular material for creating gutters. Towards the end of the century, aesthetically pleasing wooden V-shaped gutters began appearing on public buildings and homes for the wealthy. This style would continue well into the 20th century.

The 20th century saw numerous advancements in technology that had their impact on the materials and styles of rain gutters available. The invention of metal rolling machines, for example, let to half-round steel gutters. The development of plastics, accelerated by the demand created by World War II, saw cheap plastic gutters replace cast iron as the popular choice of material by the 1950s. The 1960s saw an industry-revolutionizing invention in the form of the seamless aluminum gutter machine. Stronger than plastic yet lighter than other metals, aluminum continues to be the most popular choice of gutter material, even today.

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