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The History of Garage Doors

14th September 2022

Like many essential but mundane items we use every day, your garage door probably isn’t something you take much notice of, and the chances are, that you’ve never given the history of the garage door a second thought.

But, now you’re thinking of buying a new set of side-hinged garage doors, some roller garage doors, sectional garage doors, or electric garage doors and you suddenly want to know a little bit more about the product.

That’s why, in this article, we dig down into ancient history to find out where the concept of a garage and garage door came from, and how we ended up with the designs we have today.

Early Garage Doors

Go back to 450 BC, and you might have been the proud owner of a chariot, whether you used it ‘Ben Hur’ style or you simply used it to get from A to B. Whatever the reason for your chariot, you’d need somewhere to store it.

Interesting Fact – Some of the earliest spoke-wheeled horse chariots found on ancient burial sites in Russia, date back to 2000 BCE.

The traditional storage place for your chariot when not in use would have been a gatehouse, which many believe to be the ancient forerunner of the modern garage in which we all store our cars and/or our tools, gyms and junk.

And of course, as with all the other parts of the castle or settlement, a gatehouse needed defending to protect the chariots it stored, hence a robust, easy-to-access swing door was designed, heralding in the modern garage door.

Interesting Fact – The word ‘garage’ is derived from the French word ‘garer’, which means ‘to shelter’.

Garage Doors for Horse Drawn Carriages

As time moved on, and chariots became less common, horse-drawn carriages became a much more familiar sight and a necessity for many people to carry out their work, such as hackney carriage drivers, draymen, and those who transported various goods etc.

And, just like the chariots, carriages of this type required storage, both to protect them from the elements and from theft or vandalism. So, coach houses came into existence, and you’ve guessed – coach houses needed practical doors that allowed easy and convenient access.

The doors on coach houses were swing doors, but their construction of heavy wooden planks and clunky iron hinges prone to corrosion didn’t make these doors the most practical of ‘garage’ doors, especially if you needed to put your cart away on your own.

Garage Doors for Motorcars

Towards the end of the 19th century, or January 29th 1886 to be precise, the motor car was invented, and the need for garage doors suddenly increased. But, the garage doors required to house these new, motorised carriages needed to be sleeker and lighter than coach house doors, so the race for a better design of garage door was on.

Interesting Fact – An average car has 30,000 parts, and around 87% of that average car is recyclable.

The Modern Garage Door Arrives

Engineer and founder of the ODO (Overhead Door Corporation) C.G. Johnson, came up with a slightly crude version of the up and over garage door – a garage door that opened upwards, and rested parallel to the garage roof.

After demonstrating this overhead garage door at countless trade shows across America, C.G Johnson and his wife, popularised the design amongst car owners, leading to an improved design by Leno Martin in 1936 for an up-and-over garage door, similar to the ones we know today.

A final interesting fact – Certain studies show that up to 50% – 80% of homeowners use their garage door as the main entry to their home.

Garage Door Specialists

Whether you’re looking for composite garage doors, hardwood garage doors, or any other type of garage doors, contact Garage Doors Ltd. today. We have over 50 years’ experience manufacturing, installing and repairing all types of garage doors for customers throughout London and beyond.