As long ago as 1801, the Charles D. Young company of Edinburgh, London, Liverpool and Glasgow, specialists in all sorts of wire and metal fencing, was also producing pre-fabricated espalier training supports. Here are a couple of examples from their catalogue, A Short Treatise on the System of Wire Fencing, Gates, Etc.
The text reads:
"For individual trees, Espaliers or Trainers are made in the form of cones or umbrellas, the engraving above representing the latter. The stem of the tree rises up singly in the centre, and the branches spread all round outside from the apex to the circumference, or to the base of the figure. The whole iron work is made sufficiently strong to resist the effects of the wind, and they are so constructed that they can be easily put together and fitted up by any one without inconvenience or trouble, being made in two halves to encircle the stem of the tree, and then permanently fixed in their place by means of bolts. The price of this pattern is from 50s. to 70s. each, according to the size. If 12 or more are ordered at once they will be delivered free at any of the principal seaports."
At 20s. to the old £ and using the Bank of England’s ‘In Today’s Money’ calculator, I reckon that’s roughly £200 to £280, which doesn’t sound too outrageous to me. A bit pricey, but not break-the-bank pricey, considering how much ironwork you got for your hard-earned.
The text reads:
"This is another pattern of the same article. From the manner in which it is made, in having the ribs or radiating main-bearers brought down to the ground, there to be fixed wither to wood or in stone blocks, greater strength and steadiness is obtained, and at a less cost for material and workmanship. The prices in this case vary from 30s. to 50s. each. "This method of management, from its great advantages, must eventually, in course of a few years, be adopted in almost every garden of any consequence in the country, particularly in those where there are few fruit trees, or where a few out of a number are required to be thrown into such shapes for occasional effect, or for specimens of the finer and rarer varieties. Another recommendation exists in the columns of these Trainers being easily made Hare and Rabbit proof when required."
Slightly cheaper model here – £120 to £200 at today’s rates, but still a very nice-looking bit of ironware kit. Mind you, if you think the espalier frames are impressive, you should see Charles D. Young and Co.’s range of conservatories. Wow.
The full online version of the 1801 catalogue can be found at Google Books, if you’re at all interested in fancy garden ironwork.