Wednesday, March 07 2018
The Romans brought rainwater systems to Britain. The technology was subsequently lost, but was re-introduced by the Normans. The White Tower, at the Tower of London had external gutters. In March 1240 the Keeper of the Works at the Tower of London was ordered by King Henry "to have the Great Tower whitened both inside and out". This was according to the fashion at the time. Later that year the king wrote to the Keeper, commanding that the White Tower's lead guttering should be extended with the effect that "the wall of the tower ... newly whitened, may be in no danger of perishing or falling outwards through the trickling of the rain".
In Saxon times, the thanes erected buildings with large overhanging roofs to throw the water clear of the walls in the same way that occurs in thatched cottages. The cathedral builder used lead parapet gutters, with elaborate gargoyles for the same purpose. With the dissolution of the monasteries- those buildings were recycled and there was plenty of lead that could be used for secular building. The yeoman would use wooden gutters or lead lined wooden gutters. 
When The Crystal Palace was designed in 1851 by Joseph Paxton with its innovative ridge-and-furrow roof, the rafters that spanned the space between the roof girders of the glass roof also served as the gutters. The wooden Paxton gutters had a deep semi-circular channel to remove the rainwater and grooves at the side to handle the condensation. They were under trussed with an iron plate and had preformed notches for the glazing bars: they drained into a wooden box gutter that drained into and through structural cast iron columns.
The industrial revolution introduced new methods of casting-iron and the railways brought a method of distributing the heavy cast-iron item to building sites. The relocation into the cities created a demand for housing that needed to be compact. Dryer houses controlled asthma, bronchitis, emphysema as well as pneumonia. In 1849 Joseph Bazalgette proposed a sewerage system for London, that prevented run-off being channelled into the Thames. By the 1870s all houses were constructed with cast iron gutters and down pipes. The Victorian gutter was an ogee, 115mm in width, that was fitted directly to the fascia boards eliminating the need for brackets. Square and half-round profiles were also available. For a brief period after the first world war asbestos-cement guttering became popular due to it being maintenance free: the disadvantages however ensured this was a short period: it was more bulky and fractured on impact