In 2009, Robert Elwall wrote about the impact that one British manufacturer had on 20th-century architecture…

Corner welder, Crittall's works, Witham, Essex, 1939.

Corner welder, Crittall’s works, Witham, Essex, 1939.
Photographer: John Maltby
© John Maltby / RIBA Library Photographs Collection
Click on image to enlarge

The Crittall Manufacturing Company has made an immense contribution to modern architecture in Britain and abroad. The company was founded in 1889 in Braintree by Francis Crittall and after World War I it developed the standard metal window, with which its name is synonymous, in response to a shortage of timber and the need for cheaper materials. Its Witham works opened in 1919. Among the buildings it has supplied are Water Gropius’s Bauhaus building, Dessau (1926) and Sir Owen Williams’s famous Boots factory in Beeston. The company also built model housing for its workers at Braintree (1918-1920) and Silver End (1926-1932).

From an article by Robert Elwall, Assistant Director, British Architectural Library, and originally published in December 2009. 

More images are available to view on RIBApix.

About Wilson Yau
I work for the British Architectural Library at the RIBA as part of a team to share news, images and information online about the activities of the Library and the fascinating items we have in our architectural collections – it contains over four million items, so there's plenty to see! If you’re curious about what we do at the Library and with the collections, or want to discover the latest about our education programmes, public events and exhibitions at the RIBA, please visit

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