Crittall’s enduring appeal
The name Crittall is synonymous with modern architecture in Britain. The company’s spare and elegant steel framed windows are an integral part in the design and appearance of buildings such as the Royal Festival Hall, the Pioneer Health Centre in Peckham and even the enormous engraved West Wall window in Coventry Cathedral. But they are also found in more humble domestic designs from the 1930s onwards
The company was founded in the mid-19th century when Francis Berrington Crittall purchased the Bank Street ironmongery in Braintree, Essex, though no metal windows were produced until 1884. These windows became particularly popular after World War I when a shortage of timber led to a need for cheaper alternatives. In 1939, this galvanising plant was opened in nearby Witham enabling stronger, more durable products which was used widely in housing and in government projects and is still manufactured today.
The photographer John Maltby regarded Crittall as one of his more prestigious commercial clients. As well as shooting the windows installed in various architectural locations and at trade shows, Maltby also documented the manufacturing process in the Crittall factories.