As a business, Crittall Windows spans three centuries, and their story began when Frances Berrington Crittall arrived in Braintree and bought Bank Street ironmongery. Through several major developments, the Crittall Windows of today has emerged; a global business whose name is synonymous with the best in steel windows.
The first steel windows were manufactured, under the ownership of Francis Henry Crittall who took over the business from his brother, in 1884 and the Crittall Manufacturing Company Limited was incorporated some years later followed by the building of the Manor Street Works.
Major developments in Crittall Windows history have included:
- the creation of the fenestra joint in 1909: because of its strength, the joint allowed slimmer glazing bars and therefore more light shining through windows;
- the introduction of the Universal Ranges of steel profiles in 1912 which allowed improvements in the manufacturing process;
- the new Witham Works in 1919 and the first standard ‘cottage windows’ produced for Government housing schemes. Up until this point, steel windows were not commonly used in residential properties; the change was brought about by Valentine Crittall (later Lord Braintree). From this time onwards, almost every housing scheme throughout Britain used the cottage window, right up until the 1980s;
- in 1939, the first galvanizing plant was opened in Witham – today, Crittall Windows uses hot-dipped galvanizing (as opposed to electroplate galvanizing), giving a thicker, all-weather coating.
- the development of the pressure chamber weather performance testing – these standards are still used in the UK today.
Since the early 1900s, Crittall Windows have developed operations in many countries across the world with their first venture being the operation of the Detroit Steel Product Co – the first steel window factory in the US – in 1907. Since that time, Crittall windows have operated in Belgium, South Africa, India, Australia, Nigeria, New Zealand, China and Germany.
Since 1965 and a merger with Henry Hope and Sons Ltd, Crittall Windows has seen several company takeovers; 1974 saw the retirement of John Francis Crittall and, therefore, the end of the Crittall family participation in the business. Despite all of these changes, the business continues to be the name associated with quality steel windows. In recent years, a management buyout in 2004 and new offices and a factory at Witham in 2007 have been major success stories alongside the presentation of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2010 in recognition of its export achievements in the American market. Crittall Windows is now the second largest supplier of steel windows in the USA; having rebuilt its entire distribution network there in just six years.
Bringing us up to date, the business is constantly developing new products and ways of working in order that its reputation remains consistent.