Crabtree Electrical is one of Britain's most famous names when it comes to electrical innovation and manufacturing. With nearly a century in business it is perhaps one of our most iconic brands, showing a rare ability to not only adapt and survive changes over the years but also to thrive in the dynamic electrical market. In honour of this wonderful British brand, here is a quick look at Crabtree Electrical past and present.
The Crabtree Society wrote a book, The Crabtree Story, which was published in 2012 and widely celebrate. The book is a detailed account of the company's history and development, from its humble beginnings in 1919 to its current role as a market leader. Written in tribute to one of the West Midlands' best manufacturers, the Crabtree Society's book contains both facts and anecdotes (from the ex-employees and family members in the Society) about the company.
The book follows Crabtree's journey; starting with when it was first registered as a company on 19th April 1919 and covering its impressive growth. The book explains how in just one decade the company became so successful it was reputed to be the largest electrical company of its kind, in all of the British Empire. The book goes on to discuss the series of 20th century takeovers and the company's place in the modern market.
For more information on the book and a brief introduction to the ex-employees behind it, click here.
John Ashworth Crabtree founded the Crabtree company in 1919. Just 33 years old at the time, he was a qualified engineer who invented and patented the quick-make and quick-break switch mechanism. The quick-make, quick-break switch was built on the idea of the first quick-break light switch invented by John Holmes in 1884. Holmes had designed the switch as a way of making the lighting of lamps and control of gas easier. The snap action and dual purpose of Crabtree's development meant people only needed the one switch to turn lights on and off, with instant effect rather than the gradual build of previous switch models.
After developing his switch and introducing it and his new company to the world, Crabtree continued to build his business. He started small in the original factory site at Walsall but in 1923 he purchased a seven acre plot on which he built Walsall's largest engineering factory which he opened in 1926. Thanks to his innovation and entrepreneurship, Crabtree's company became one of Britain's leading manufacturers of electrical accessories, low voltage switchgear and motor control gear. Crabtree Electrical continues to grow and prosper, despite Mr Crabtree passing away in the 1930s. In fact, the company was not only a key manufacturer during World War II, it was also given a royal appointment in 1946 and even a royal visit in 1962.
By 1972 the company was a household name but it was acquired by the British Ever Ready Electrical Company, which itself was later acquired by the Hanson Trust in 1981. The Lincoln Works, the original factory in Walsall, operated for many years until it was closed in 1997 and converted into a hotel.
Today Crabtree Electrical is still a household name and market leader when it comes to electrical accessories and fixtures. Currently owned by Electrium, part of the Siemens Group, Crabtree Electrical is still very much part of the British psyche. Even now, it is regarded as a manufacturing icon, a market leader and a reputable, innovative company with over a century of experience.
Crabtree Electrical's own company maxim perhaps best explains the secret behind their consistently high quality products, their longevity and their success: That which is built soundly endures well