British Quality: Built to Last

What do the E-Type Jaguar and the Vapac Electrode boiler Steam humidifier have in common?

I have to admit that the Vapac Humidifier does not appear on the list of iconic designs of the 20th Century. Neither has it appeared in films such as the Italian Job or Casino Royale.

However, both share a significant anniversary this year. For the E-type it is 60 years since the first car rolled – or should I say roared – off the production line, as at the time it was the fastest production car in the World. Designed by Malcolm Sayer with its 3.4 litres of power travelling through the wire wheels and propelling the celebrities of the day such as George Best, Twiggy and George Harrison to the next social event or photo shoot.

Without David Bailey or Lord Snowdon turning up, and marginally less fanfare or press coverage, the Vapac Steam humidifier was first produced in 1971 in Edenbridge, Kent by Eaton Williams ltd with the Humidifier being designed by the company founder Ray Eaton-Williams and so celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year.

For Vapac the stars of the day didn’t turn out to be photographed with the latest trappings of their lucrative high-profile careers.

However, fashion has a limited life, the styles of the day change, the new ‘latest’ toys turn up and steal the limelight. The Vapac steam humidifier was not burdened with these concerns.

Unlike the E-type, the Vapac humidifier – whilst having had several revamps over the years – works on the same basic principles of generated steam in a controlled manner and is still very much in production providing the reliability and consistency of performance that became synonymous with its name.

Vapac quickly established itself as a market leader not only in the UK but across the globe, becoming the ‘Hoover’ brand in its field of air conditioning humidity control. The Industry did not speak about installing an ‘electrode boiler humidifier’ just as people did not think of buying a ‘vacuum cleaner’.  Air conditioning engineers and specifying consultants would simply ask for a Vapac’.

Today it is still holding its position as the longest standing and most well-known brand of electrode boiler humidifier, and the only unit of this type manufactured in the UK.  Italian, Swiss and German designs have come along to compete using the same technology, but the Vapac brand is still holding its own.

Whilst the stars did not cue up for the humidifier straight out of the show room, most people whatever their status have experienced the benefit of a humidity-controlled environment in their offices, creating ideal conditions in manufacturing plants or the steam for a steam bath in a hotel.

Both brands have their manufacturing base in the West Midlands – the Vapac units are now constructed in Brierley Hill – just west of Birmingham and only 35 miles from the home of Jaguar.

Interestingly the Vapac humidifiers are regularly used in the motor trade creating a climate that assists in the manufacturing of components such as dashboard displays, sunroof construction, veneer stores at the assembly plants or within paint spray booths.

Once produced the emphasis goes on to preservation and conservation with the climate control of garages to store this, and other classic cars – whether this be in residential premises or commercial facilities.


  • Iconic look – no
  • Celebrity status – limited
  • Rock solid reliability – definitely
  • Efficient and effective design – absolutely
  • Value for money – extremely competitive

Combine that with home produced British manufacture and a leading independent UK distributor and you have: