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British Industrial History

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Marsh, Jones and Cribb

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of Norwich

March, Jones and Cribb was a major painting and decorating contractor.

1760 A. Kendle, trading as Kendle and Co, opened a Decorating and Furnishing business in Leeds. From the first, the firm specialised in fine interior decoration, carrying out work in the stately homes of the aristocracy of England and Scotland.

Kendle's business flourished and with continued expansion and the desire by John Kendle, the grandson of the founder, to move from Yorkshire resulted in a change of control.

During the first half of the nineteenth century the business was taken over by Mr Marsh, who was soon afterwards joined by Mr. Jones, who hailed from Oswestry.

Henry Humphries Cribb and Son, who had an exclusive furnishing business in Soho Square, London, then a fashionable quarter, was sent to serve his apprenticeship with Messrs. Marsh and Jones in Leeds. He was in due course admitted as a partner in the firm.

Ultimately Marsh died; Jones then retired, leaving Cribb on his own.

The firm carried on under the name of Marsh Jones and Cribb until about 1897, when it was joined by A. I. Swift and E. J. Thompson. These gentlemen were formally with Gillows of Lancaster, which had been taken over by S. J. Waring and Sons

1905 The company was registered on 5 May, to carry on the business of cabinet makers as Marsh, Jones and Cribb Ltd. [1]

1909 Thompson retired.

1919 Cribb and Swift retired.

WWI Marsh, Jones and Cribb were makers of aeroplanes.

After the affects of the first World War, the Company affairs were restored to something like normal by Mr. Redman and Mr. Fenton who had taken over the business in 1919, and who tried to maintain the old styles and traditions.

In 1923 the business was bought over by C. P. Sixsmith, who later took a P. Whaley as partner and they carried on for two or three years, when Mr. Whaley left the business and Mr. Sixsmith was sole proprietor.

This period in the company’s affairs was marked by an expansion into the field of Marine decoration. At the rime, the interior decoration of many liners was based on specifications which attempted to revive past architectural and artistic glories, with ornate workmanship in fibrous plaster, a liberal use of gold leaf and elaborately carved woodwork.

Examples can be recalled by older members of the firm, who carried out the ornate decorations and furnishings on the old "Acquitania" and "Mauretania", (the last of the four funnel transatlantic liners).

In the 1920's, the firm had many craftsmen working in fitting out yards as far afield as Trieste.

It was a ship from this port at the yard of Cantiere Navale Triestno, Monfalcone, the M.V. "Saturnia' launched in 1927, for the Consulic line, that had a domed first class dining saloon, seating 250 passengers, with a huge frieze round the base of the dome, which was an exact reproduction from the Parthenon at Athens, in painted and gilded fibrous plaster. No effort was spared in these vessels to make them outstanding in the quality of their decoration.

During the 1930's the plaster embellishments and extravagances vanished, to be replaced by contemporary furnishings, and the increased use of wood panelling and paint. Some of the finest hotels in London were furnished and decorated by the Company.

The firm of James Chappell and Son, which was established in 1868, as a fine decorating and painting contracting business, had earlier become associated with the firm and eventually bought the name and goodwill of the company in 1930, from Mr. Sixsmith, who transferred his business activities to London.

Mr. Chappell realised that the gradual increase in taxation and death duties had struck a death blow to the once enormous business of furnishing and decorating the big country residences and steps were taken to establish a new Contracts department.

The premises in Broad lane, Leeds, were then closed and new offices and showrooms taken in Park Square, later to be transferred to Cookridge Street, where the business was carried on until 1940 and the days of the blitz.

During the early days of the war the firm's records going back to foundation of the business in 1760 were among the irreplaceable casualties.

From that time it was necessary to carry on from the firm's storage works at Beeston Road. As it is now generally known, furnishing houses suffered a severe blow as a result of the war, but, fortunately, the firm had always maintained the contract side, and it was to this department that the company turned its efforts when it reorganised to meet war conditions.

After the war, the contracts department was extensively developed and extended until now it constitutes a large section of the Company's turnover. Specialist executives arc employed to deal with this branch of the business which handles contracts for Government and Local Government Bodies, Industrial Concerns, Banks, Insurance Companies and similar institutions. The Company is also approved Contractors to the Admiralty, the War Office, the Ministry, of Works, the National Coal Board, the North Eastern Gas Board, the West Riding County Council, Lancashire County Council and numerous Municipal Authorities.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  • Aeroplanes of the Royal Flying Corps (Military Wing) by J. M. Bruce. Published 1982 ISBN 0-370-30084-x