The Bridgecraft tradition started nearly 70 years ago in a tiny workshop by Leeds Bridge just a stones throw from this showroom. This was in 1935 when Maurice (Morry) Lee started out in
business in a converted stable called Shepherds Fold. In a press interview in the 1980s Morry remembered that the space was so small that a six foot settee was impossible to complete
without breaking a hole in the wall first.
Known originally as the -Bridge- Upholstery, the fledgling firm staked its early reputation on the uncompromising craft standards Morry learned as an apprentice on the bench.
As a very gifted and intuitive upholsterer, he set out to produce the kind of furniture that would be durable, affordable and always just that little bit better than its competitors.
Indeed, the competition was truly fierce in Leeds at the time with a score of upholstery firms all fighting for business in the town.
The extraordinary brand values that were to emerge from these simple beginnings grew to further prominence in the factory complex in Mabgate, again, literally across the road from
where you stand. With so many craftsmen perfecting their skills in Mabgate over the years, Bridgecraft soon became known as the -Leeds University of Upholstery-.
But it was in the late 40s and early 50s following the end of wartime utility restrictions that the Bridge Upholstery and Bridgecraft furniture really took off. From its new home in
Mabgate the unique -signature- of Bridgecraft design could be detected in much upholstery styling in the northern marketplace. In the very early days all three piece suites were in either
rust, green or brown moquette - a far cry from the choice, style and colour flair that became the hallmark of the brand. By the early 1960s it was generally considered that to have a
Bridgecraft suite in your living room was somewhat akin to having a Jaguar car parked in your drive.
But by far the greatest compliment paid to Bridgecraft came from the furniture trade itself. Bridgecraft became the standard by which most upholstery was judged and as few firms could
copy the interior quality of the furniture (the demands of its construction being simply uneconomic for most) the sincerest form of flattery was a steady following of its design ideas
by many imitators.
Fabric suppliers and distinguished weavers in Britain and Europe also hitched their fortunes to the unswerving market instincts and creativity at Bridgecraft. Often exclusive fabrics
were produced for the firm and always the list of quality independent retailers and national multiples supporting the brand spoke for itself. An early ardent fan of Bridgecraft was the
legendary Manny Cousins who, although perhaps better known for his chairmanship of Leeds United in the 60s, built his own furniture empire on a shrewd understanding of product values and
But Morry Lee s ability to translate timeless style and comfort into three luxurious dimensions was made possible only by the combined efforts and talents of a wonderfully loyal
team of Leeds men and women who shared his almost obsessive demands for good workmanship and customer service. Family members too were very important in the growth and success of the
firm, not to mention a certain Mrs Dora Lee who was the proverbial power behind the throne from the very start.
When Bridgecraft celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1985, now with the resources of a larger furniture group behind it, its designs were at last available to a wider audience. And still
at the centre of the design process, was the now silver haired father figure of Morry Lee, inspiring a new generation of designers and craftsmen to the arts and the craft of a three
piece suite. It was only as the millennium approached that Bridgecraft scaled down its operations and relocated, first to a site in Bradford and then to its present, purpose built
factory and studio-showrooms in Hebden Bridge.
Today with an explosion of home interest in Britain making us ever more conscious of our visual surroundings and our craft heritage, the renaissance of -Hebden- Bridgecraft means an important
and unbroken link with what is -truly- traditional. Bridgecraft today, as in the past, means people passionate about upholstery, determined to offer the kind of special quality
that remains (as the old saying goes) hard to define but easy to recognise.
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