B Murphy & Co – Independent Joinery


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In 1849, Francis Berrington Crittall took over an ironmonger in Braintree, Essex, and set up home above the shop with his new bride, Fanny Godfrey. Ten children followed, and after Francis’s death in 1879, eldest son Richard inherited the business, handing over to Francis Jr two years later. He began by diversifying the manufacturing side, directing his small team of craftsmen to make everything from bicycles to bridges, street lighting to drainage. Bolstered by success – the firm now boasted an order book stretching all the way to Liverpool – in 1884 Francis began experimenting with the product that would light up the world.
Old Crittall brochures: detailing the design and layout.

Slender Frames

Metal windows had been around since the mid-16th century, but were both heavy to operate and, being individually crafted, time-consuming to manufacture. Crittalls lighter, slender frames proved so popular that, within a decade, a new factory had been built and the 11-strong workforce inherited by Francis had grown to 60; come the end of the Great War, the number would be 500.

There were two key reasons for the growth. In 1907, Crittall bought the Fenestra joint patent from the Düsseldorf company of the same name, enabling both increased production and slimmer glazing bars. That same year, the firm established its first overseas factory in Detroit, where their wares helped illuminate the factories of the nascent car industry.

Operations in numerous countries would follow, as modern architects such as Walter Gropius and Frank Lloyd Wright helped popularise the use of large steel-framed windows. Notable adoptees of crittalls output would include Yale and Princeton Universities, The Big Ben Tower in London, some parts of The Houses of Parliament and, notably, RMS Titanic.
Crittal bay window fitted in Hampstead Garden Suburb on a grade 2 listed property.
Crittal window fitted in Highgate on a listed property.
Crittal window under construction at our workshop.
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